The Conversation

The Establishment perspective

Consider this a companion to "The Cruz perspective," because the GOP Establishment does have some good points to make.  The Republican primary challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Matt Bevin, told Glenn Beck, "I'd be willing to risk losing the Senate if we could keep America."  This is wrong on so many levels that Bevin might want to think about suspending his long-shot campaign and coming back in a few years when he's ready for prime time.

Just for starters, that is not the choice on the table.  Lose the Senate and we lose another big chunk of America, an inexorable process that has been grinding us down for decades, shifting into a higher gear in 2009.  The system Bevin wants to run against has its own dreadful inertia; do nothing, and it will consume more of the nation we inherited from our grandfathers.  Big, insolvent government has all the inertia at its back.  It wins ties and draws.  

The existing status quo has gotten us a largely impotent House of Representatives, stripped of even its constitutional powers until such time as the Democrat Party retakes it and loses the White House.  It's not fair to say that the House has been totally inert, or that the GOP leadership has accomplished nothing.  Charles W. Cooke at National Review, while professing himself sympathetic to the grassroots conservative cause, makes an excellent case that critics of the Establishment undersell what it has been able to do with the limited legislative tools at its disposal.  (I'd say it's mutual, since Establishment critics of the Tea Party make a fetish of underestimating them as well.)

But even the most generous assessment of the Republican leadership's performance must concede they have done little more than slow down the machinery that is grinding America to dust.  And they haven't really been able to slow it down all that much.  The result has been a reconfiguration of the electorate to the Left's advantage.  Conservatives, most prominently Newt Gingrich back in the early 2012 race, may have deep reservations about engaging in "social engineering," but liberals love it and can't get enough of it.  Leave things as they are, with Republican influence reduced to a speed bump that also gives Democrats a largely neutered hate fetish to run against when it's time to whip up electoral support - "Everything wrong with America is because the intransigent Republican minority gets in the way, and they only do it because they hate black people (2009-2016) or hate women (2017 onward)" - and the transformation of America will continue without remorse.

So the Establishment is quite correct to say that winning the Senate is necessary to effecting meaningful change, especially since the media is so diligent in its absolute refusal to report what Harry Reid does to kill the Republican House legislation that would build enormous public support for the GOP agenda, if it were ever enacted.  Bevin's comment is meant to show his sincerity, his eagerness to rise above petty politics, but frankly if grassroots conservatives and Tea Party activists want to get anything done, they need to win petty politics.  

I think that can be done without pandering or losing your soul to the very machine you want to fight, but at the end of the day, a candidate who underestimates the importance of prevailing in the next few critical elections is a candidate who radically overestimates the ability of dissenting Americans to walk away from the Leviathan State.  You can't, kids.  It will hunt you down.  You will not be allowed to live your own lives, in accordance with your beliefs, winning gradual support from persuadable voters over the coming decade with your inspiring example.  Your beliefs will be waved out of existence by a combination of legislation and imperial fiat.  The way things are going, you might run into trouble for merely talking about your dissenting views in a few years, or at the very least, finding public venues where such talk is acceptable.

It's tough to hear the Establishment types offer the latest round of "we'll fight next time" promises, especially for those of us who remember when the debt ceiling was very clearly stated to be "next time," by the people who were telling Ted Cruz to shut up and let ObamaCare roll over America unimpeded.  It's pretty clear that you need people like Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and the rest of Rogue Squadron to lead that fight.  You certainly aren't going to get much battle leadership from the elements of the Establishment who are actually quite comfortable with being the privileged leaders of a permanent minority, having long ago made their peace -and found their profit - with a system they offer mild rhetorical criticism of, when it's time to "prove" they're different from Democrats.  

But it's equally clear that you need to win those elections to give the revolutionaries a fighting chance at winning their brave battles.  And really, a healthy Party armed with conservative beliefs should be able to win elections.  The Establishment and its defenders are absolutely right about where we need to go; the conservative upstarts are right about what we need to do when we get there.


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