I find it bothersome that when I listen to some of the obvious establishment hacks, what I hear from them sounds suspiciously like the things I hear coming from the left. They attack Sarah Palin, and as Breitbart famously pointed out, it’s almost like a membership card that people in the GOP establishment throw down to prove their credentials with the leftist media and cocktail crowd. Those who want in must pay the toll, and that will mean running down actual conservatives whenever possible. They tell us it’s because we are all blithering idiots, and that’s evidenced because we don’t understand the art of compromise, but that too has the suspiciously similar ring of disdain that we most frequently get from the left. Worse, when a conservative overcomes the GOP establishment, they tend to think all that remains is to defeat the left, but slowly and surely, the establishment crowd works its way back in. Conservatives frequently find themselves wondering if there’s any difference between the Left and the Republican establishment.
One could examine the politics of Alaska to get an idea of how that all works. Sarah Palin was a marvelous reformer who defeated a bastion of the GOP establishment when she beat Frank Murkowski on her way to victory and gubernatorial success. In 2010, Joe Miller defeated Murkowski’s daughter Lisa in the GOP primary, but as an establishment insider, Murkowski ran instead a write-in campaign, and defeated Joe Miller from the left. This is emblematic of the way the establishment plays the game, and what quickly becomes apparent is how they’ll do anything to maintain power. Lisa Murkowski won the Senate seat, but she had to abandon the base of the party she had claimed to support in order to get it done. The Democrats voted defensively, by supporting her over their own candidate in many cases, because they knew they’d rather have Republican Lisa Murkowski than Tea Party-inclined Joe Miller. What that will mean in the future for Alaska politics is unclear, but I suspect the Tea Party and conservative base there are seething over her actions.
Naturally, this is just a microcosm of how it works in Washington DC. where the establishment rules the Republican roost. When you notice that Republicans have wavered on this or that, you can almost always be assured that you will find one of the establishment pack at the root of the surrender. It leads many to wonder, nowadays openly: Is the Republican establishment really any better or any more than a fifth column for the institutional Left? Of course, much like the Devil, whose best trick is purported to have been to convince others he didn’t exist, the GOP establishment denies their own existence too. It’s actually a bit of a farce for George Will to have said this, but say it he did, and they run around pretending they do not exist. Part of it is that they’re a bit slippery, because they will pose as conservatives on this bill or that, and come up with some dandy rationalizations for their sell-outs of conservatism.
Part of what makes conservatives wonder about the possibility of a “fifth column” appearance of all of this is that without fail, these are the same people to whom the media turns when they want a “republican” or “conservative” opinion. Asking John Boehner on to speak on behalf of conservatism is roughly equivalent to asking Joe McGinnis his opinion on Sarah Palin. John Boehner isn’t a conservative, though he frequently claims the title. What Boehner really represents is a mind-set that Washington DC commands all, and that sometimes one must go along to get along. The problem with Boehner, Cantor, et al, is that they really don’t care about the underlying principles in any issue. They’re more interested in the appearance of a deal, but the deals are always with leftists, and they never, ever work out as advertised.
The great Debt Ceiling debate of last July is an example. Boehner was catching hell from every direction, but in the end, who did he abandon? Did he abandon his make-nice with the President? No. Did he force the issue via a shutdown? No. Instead, he sent another bill to the Senate after the bill his whole caucus had supported was pronounced “dead on arrival” by Harry Reid. The truth of the matter is that the deal had been done for some time, and he was looking for cracks in his own party in order to push it through. Boehner knew it, Reid knew it, and Barack Obama knew it too. When you know your adversary’s alleged leader is undercutting his own folks in order to make a deal, you can go a long way in really pressing your advantage. The Debt Ceiling debate ended with a victorious Obama and a devastated Republican base. We watched people in whom we placed a great deal of hope walk the plank for John Boehner, and all to end up in the same boat just a little later in the year.
This prompted the question among many in the Tea Party at the time, including in this blog: “With friends like these…” Of course, at the time we were turning our attentions to the Presidential primary season, but little did we conservatives suspect, with a field brimming with actual and potential candidates that the Republican establishment had a plan brewing for this too. They managed to manipulate the early states forward, moving up the process for a purpose I still don’t think most have grasped. Those early states are now bound by the rules to yield half of their delegates to the National convention. Who will be choosing them, and who do you suppose they will be? Conservatives? Or more establishment hacks? So you see, that’s been part of their back-up plan too, engineered to make sure they have a number of delegates they can throw to Mitt Romney if it comes down to it. Drudge is happily running a story pointing out that Santorum will need to win 74% of delegates in order to win, but what he’s not reporting to you is that Romney will need almost 60% from this point forward. While Santorum’s chore is an order of magnitude more difficult, Romney’s road isn’t easy, even with the sandbag delegates the party now has put-away for just such an emergency.
All of this is much like what they did to Ronald Reagan in 1976. They did everything possible to stymie him and still it came within a whisker of going his way. I suspect if they could have stopped him in 1980, they would have, but they still managed to get one of theirs on the ticket. In many ways, the conservative base of the party has been paying a price ever since. Let’s be blunt, if we may, and suggest that in the halls of power, and where it matters, and in the money of the GOP, George HW Bush is still a terribly powerful force, or at least his legacy has been. They’re already preparing the next generation, both for the Presidency, and up-and-coming, and there’s little doubt that they prepare a back-bench thick with their folks, ready to retake control when the opportunity arrives. Given the way the GOP has been run since the Bush establishment took over, I wonder if we’ll ever see a time when our country is free of them, and if it’s even possible any longer.
I tend to agree with those who say that in order to be rid of them, the GOP must ultimately go the way of the Whigs. The GOP establishment is nearly indistinguishable in their methods and goals from the institutional Left who is our open adversary, and in any case, they’re dragging the country in the same sad direction, albeit somewhat more slowly. Win, lose or draw, when this election cycle ends, whatever happens, we’re going to be forced to confront this issue or accept that we’ve lost our country. We tend to think of our fight for the country in terms of our battles with the Left, but I believe we must consider amending our thinking because I don’t know that we can ever defeat the left until we oust their friends from among our number. We must at some point ask: Are these the actions of a friend?