A reader writes on the “Trump vs. the GOP Establishment” thread, in which I asked conservative and Republican readers if they hate the Republican establishment, and why:
What is the Establishment one is talking about? The Wall Stree/Silicon Valley money guys or movement conservatism? I’m not an insider by a long shot but I’ve tended to distinguish the two.
I think the leaders of both “groups” are sweating balls. And so be it. I’m a Moderate Republican who incessantly gets chided with the RINO epithete from ex-Democrats who tried to make the GOP into their own little Conservative chapel. As a I see it, Conservative Republicans are now getting served the über-version of what they’ve been peddling for the past 20 years or so on talk radio, on Fox, and in politics high and low. To the GOP’s Hubris, comes Trump whose true name is Nemesis.
That being said, I hope the best for the Republican Party.
The reader raises an interesting point that David Brooks takes on in his column today: that there are two Republican establishments. Brooks:
During the 1970s conservatives self-consciously built establishment institutions to counter the liberal establishment. But with the election of Ronald Reagan, the conservative establishment split into two. There was the regular conservative establishment, filled with mainstream conservatives who wanted to use the inside levers of power that Republicans now controlled.
But there was also a conservative counter-establishment. This was populated with people like Paul Weyrich, Richard Viguerie, Brent Bozell and others who were temperamentally incapable of governance. Many of these Old Right people broke with Reagan because he wasn’t ideologically pure on this or that policy matter.
Today the conservative community still has at least two establishments, or three if you want to throw in the young Reform Conservatives. The mainstream establishment tends to side with party leaders like Paul Ryan and whoever the presidential nominee is. The Old Right Counter Conservative Establishment has grown in recent years. For example, the Heritage Foundation, which used to be more or less conservative establishment, has gone more Counter Establishment.
The difference is the establishment wants to use the levers of power to practically pass reforms. The Counter Establishment believes that Washington is pervasively corrupt and is implacably hostile to the G.O.P. leadership.
Brooks’s column is devoted to discussing Ted Cruz as an avatar of the Counterestablishment.
Are you a conservative and/or a Republican who hates the GOP Counterestablishment? If so, why?
It occurs to me that if I’m asking readers to put their cards on the table, I should do the same with mine. In my case, I don’t “hate” either one. I don’t care enough about politics any longer to hate any faction, even among the liberals and the Democrats. That’s not so much a virtue as it is the effect of sheer exhaustion turning into indifference.
I am a conservative who doesn’t care for the GOP Establishment primarily because I see it as far too militaristic, eager for war, and beholden to Wall Street’s interests over Main Street’s. I think they tend to see society as a market, not a family. The party’s leadership sees social and religious conservatives as its useful idiots — and it can do this because it knows we have nowhere else to go with our votes. I may end up voting for this kind of Republican by default, but I don’t like it.
But I am a conservative who doesn’t care for the GOP Counterestablishment either. It is far too ideologically driven, and conspicuously lacks the virtue of prudence. Brooks is right: it is temperamentally incapable of governance. True, you have some antiwar people like Ron Paul, but most of the Counterestablishment strikes me as being just as hawkish as the Establishment (for example, Ted Cruz promised to nuke the Middle East). It’s powered not by principled reason, but by the passions of talk radio. I may end up voting for this kind of Republican by default, but I don’t like it.
There is no home for conservatives like me in the Republican Party. This is why my conservatism is primarily social, cultural and religious, and seeks social, cultural and religious expression.
So, let me repeat: Are you a conservative and/or a Republican who hates the GOP Counterestablishment? If so, why?
I request that only Republicans and conservatives answer this one. And I request that Republicans and conservatives who do answer keep their opinions about David Brooks to themselves, and stick to the question.