It’s become de rigeur these days for opponents of [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] – particularly those in the Trump camp, but by no means exclusively them – to refer to him as the “establishment” candidate. This is an unfortunate indicator that the word “establishment” (like the term “RINO” before it) has lost all meaning and is currently most often used by people who are incapable of articulating disagreement on policy without resorting to insult.
The insult in question, of course, has come to mean “person who disagrees with me on literally anything.”
It’s sad because “Establishment” was actually a useful term. There really is a cadre of politicians, consultants, donors and pundits who have become captive to the DC (or sometimes New York) culture, and who have for years cynically played conservative voters by promising to deliver things they never had any intention of fulfilling. [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ], [mc_name name=’Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’A000360′ ], David Brooks, George Will… the list could go on and on. Some of these people are not bad people per se, but they have become dangerously out of touch with conservative voters and subconsciously invested in preserving their own positions above actually advancing the ball on conservative causes.
We fight them every day here.
But here’s how dumb and useless the term has gotten. When Erick Erickson criticized Donald Trump – who has been a pretend conservative for about five minutes – for saying that Megyn Kelly must have been on her period, roughly a billion people lined up to say that Erick Erickson was establishment.
Erick Erickson. Let that sink in for a moment. A guy so opposed to DC culture that he has repeatedly refused to move there to advance his career, preferring instead to live in small town Macon, Georgia. A guy who once had hundreds of balls mailed to [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ]’s office. A guy who has supported every insurgent candidate who has ever existed, including the ones who lost by 20 points like Christine O’Donnell.
In fact, it’s pretty common these days for Trump and his legion of Twitter eggs to call the whole RedState site “establishment,” in spite of the fact that literally none of our current front page contributors work in DC, are campaign consultants at all, or have (to my knowledge) ever worked on Capitol Hill, in the White House, or been a columnist for a major newspaper.
We all – each and every one of us (with the very recent exception of myself) – have other, first jobs that have nothing at all to do with politics. We are ordinary Americans who write from the heartland, far away from DC, with our honest thoughts about politics. Although we have differences of opinion, we have almost unanimously joined Erick in always supporting conservative challengers in every major primary. I myself remain at home in Nashville, away from DC as constantly as I can be.
To call this site “establishment” is to indicate that you really just don’t have any other words in your vocabulary to express that you disagree with something one of us has said. Tip: online thesauruses are free.
One of the insurgent conservative candidates that this site supported – back when he was trailing establishment candidate Charlie Crist by about 40 points – was [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] (another, for that matter, was [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] in his fight against Dewhurst). Then candidate Rubio came to our very first humble RedState gathering in Atlanta with about 150 RedState readers and commenters.
The current spate of attacks by Trump supporters are indicative of people who claim to be lifelong fed up conservatives but who actually are completely ignorant of the history of the movement to change the Republican party from the inside out. The evidence of that is that they are recycling discredited personal attacks from convicted multiple felon and former Crist stooge Jim Greer about Rubio’s private life. These attacks, when made public, were one of the first things to open people’s eyes as to how rotten the “establishment” really was. They were even more disgusting than the horse manure shoveled against Chris McDaniel in Mississippi, which really put the nail in the coffin for so many people.
And now these exact same attacks are being used by supporters of Trump as pushback against the “establishment”?
If the phrase “some animals are more equal than others” isn’t rattling around in your head right now, you probably need to invest some time in reading a book every now and then.
One of the things that’s changed in terms of the way the actual establishment got away with hoodwinking people for so long is that groups like our friends at Heritage Action decided to expose the way many Senators and representatives gamed the ACU’s borderline fraudulent rating system. HAFA – headed by Jim Demint – scores procedural votes and provides an actually honest rating of who the true conservatives in Washington are. You can see Cruz and Rubio’s scores throughout this post.
There’s absolutely no doubt, as evidenced the fact that you see a big fat 100% next to his name repeatedly throughout this post, that [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] has been an unparalleled rock star in Washington, DC. He and [mc_name name=’Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’L000577′ ] have set the standard others in the Senate should aspire to. I don’t mean to suggest with a straight face that Rubio has been the warrior that Cruz has against the duplicity and self-dealing of McConnell, et al.
But neither could I – or anyone else – say that a person who’s earned a 94% next to that name is an “establishment” candidate, as that term might be objectively defined. That’s all the more true about a guy who is knocked in many quarters for having been in DC for about five years.
And he has, without question, been a more solid movement conservative for years than Donald Trump has ever dreamed about being.
“Well,” Rubio’s detractors might say, “All of that is true, but you cannot deny that the actual establishment prefers him to Trump.”
That’s completely fair and I don’t think anyone would deny it. It does, however, gloss over the fact that the establishment mainly tolerates Rubio because the five candidates they would have preferred over him (Bush, Walker, Christie, Kasich, and Graham) have utterly face planted this election cycle. It’s not like the smoke filled rooms this year entered 2015 really enthusiastic about placing all their chips behind Rubio. The fact that he is seen as the lesser of two (or three) evils does not make him an “establishment” candidate.
Moreover, if we are going to start holding Rubio accountable for his supporters – in the sense that we will call him “establishment” because he is supported by some members of the establishment – then we had better start applying that same logic to other candidates.
I have to tell you that if this is the standard we are going to use, Donald Trump is not going to come off the winner in this exchange. Anyone who has spent about ten minutes on Twitter knows that Donald Trump has the almost exclusive support of the so-called “alt right,” which is how the neo-Nazi David Duke crowd has rebranded itself. This isn’t Donald Trump’s fault any more than it’s Rubio’s fault that the WSJ editorial board supports him.
If being supported by some establishment types makes Rubio an establishment candidate, then being supported by almost all the neo-Nazi types makes Trump a neo-Nazi. Fair is fair.
There are good and defensible reasons to prefer other candidates (particularly Cruz) over Rubio. I won’t pretend that there are good and defensible reasons to prefer Trump over Rubio, but anyone who started with that position didn’t read anything but the title or maybe the first paragraph of this post anyway
The point here is not that everyone has to support Rubio or agree with everything he does or has done; far from it. The point is that intra-party disagreements between two guys who are not far apart ideologically at all do not have to inevitably result in total war.
And finally, people who disagree with Rubio and would rather have another candidate would do well to maintain some self-respect by being honest about who and what he is. He may not be your candidate, but neither is he “establishment” any more than Trump is a neo-Nazi.