This column by Kurt Schlichter has gotten a lot of attention from the DextroSphere. It’s worth your time to read it in full. Schlichter’s tone is openly combative toward the Left, its spokesmen, and its iconic institutions, but buried beneath the overt message is another one of even greater importance. Here are the passages that really bring it forward:
[W]e have a GOP establishment that’s too wimpy to take its own side in a fight, much less humanity’s – or ours. No wonder a walking punchline like Donald Trump is walking all over them.
And we don’t need any more decorum cops like Mitt Romney sucking up to the libs and their MSM buddies by adopting their memes and chiding the likes of Ted Cruz for telling the truth. Hey, giving $150 billion to the Iranian mullahs means Obama is giving money to terrorists. That's called “the truth;” maybe you squishes ought to try it out instead of whining when GOP voters respond to it from others.
In the above Schlichter implies that the Republican Party’s Establishment is only a component in a larger, essentially unitary Establishment. And indeed, it is so. It provides a perfect explanation for its major figures’ hostility to boat-rockers such as Ted Cruz. Had we been alert to the possibility that the kingpins of the Left and the Right might join forces sub rosa, we might have had a chance to prevent it. Were more of us awake to current political reality, the GOP’s treatment of the Tea Party caucus and conservative “troublemakers” generally would confuse no one.
However, confusion and the concealment of power-brokers’ motives is essential to the advancement of totalitarian oligarchy under a veneer of democratic self-government.
It’s been observed by commentators with a much larger readership than mine that what most Trump backers like most about him is his combativeness, and the contrast it makes with GOP luminaries’ hypercautious, civility-above-all-else, don’t-make-the-New York Times-angry approach to doing business. That also applies to many, perhaps most, of the backers of Ted Cruz. Were a few more genuine fighters to make themselves heard nationally, the pattern would be clearer. As matters stand, the Establishment and the media are able to dismiss Trump, Cruz, and their backers as marginal players in the national political dynamic. More, the facility with which their detractors can marginalize them – Trump as the “angry outsider” in a time of anti-“insider” sentiment; Cruz as the “feisty Latino” of merely regional appeal – helps to deflect attention from the substance of their campaigns.
If you’ll allow me a quick swerve of focus, let’s consider Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Few persons anticipated Sanders’s entrance into the race for the Democrats’ nomination, and fewer still expected the substantial degree of enthusiasm he’s garnered. Yet there were clouds over the Hillary Clinton campaign from the very first. We ought to have seen them in such phenomena as the speculation about a Biden candidacy and the calls to draft Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Clinton, to put it as briefly as possible, is the Establishment’s choice for Democrat nominee, and those on the Left committed to the ideology rather than to the Democrat Party have known it all along.
The speculations about a second Clinton / Bush showdown in November 2016 are ultimately about whether America’s political Establishment will succeed in euchring all the fighters – the men of conviction and courage – out of the running. That is, indeed, the Establishment’s aim: to perpetuate the state of affairs that has existed since the election of John F. Kennedy, whose elevation to the White House began the dominance of federal politics by a quiet coalition of Yankee and Rimster political baronies.
There are tensions within that coalition, as there are within every coalition, but the members are united on one overarching rule: No boat rocking. Sudden, convulsive changes are the enemy of every Establishment. What is an Establishment but that assemblage of persons and institutions that have gained dominance over The Way Things Are – the group that has contrived to take the helm of the ship of state and steer it to its members’ profit and security?
Anyone who dares to raise a sincerely angry voice about any important aspect of the status quo is a boat rocker: a threat to the Establishment that must be neutered before he can mass enough sentiment behind him to compel a major change.
Even when nominally focused on a narrow issue, a major change to existing political arrangements is always widely destabilizing. Consider all the following thinkable major alterations to federal law:
- Ending the minimum wage.
- Establishing a national right-to-work law.
- Securing the southern border of the United States.
- Abolishing the Departments of Energy and Education.
- Firm dollar and duration limits upon federal welfare support.
- Abolishing the income tax in favor of a national retail sales tax.
- Repeal of the National Firearms Act of 1934 and all other federal firearms laws.
- A Supreme Court ruling that strikes down all state and local laws that infringe upon Second Amendment rights.
- A Constitutional amendment defining human life as beginning at some point earlier than emergence from the mother’s birth canal.
- A Constitutional amendment that establishes, in plain English, that Congress may not delegate its powers to unelected regulatory bodies.
Any one of those ideas would shake the American Establishment to its foundations. What the destruction of the One Ring did to Barad-dur would pale in comparison. Accordingly, should a candidate other than Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton gain his party’s nomination, the Establishment will make it quietly clear to him that its support is conditional on an enforceable promise that should he win, he will not act effectively to promote any such initiative.
The Establishment doesn’t control the votes of private citizens, though it strains mightily to bias public opinion against boat-rockers. Thus, there is a possibility that someone who has demonstrated political courage and determination, such as Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, will secure the GOP’s presidential nomination. Should Governor Walker get the nod through the primary process, an effort to pre-constrain a Walker Administration would begin at once. We the People would not be permitted to see that operation. Neither would it be guaranteed to succeed immediately, such that President Walker would be neutered from his first day in office. But it would be real and ongoing.
A great deal of Establishment control of the federal government is exercised by Cabinet members and “advisors.” The “inside Washington” mystique makes it difficult for a president-elect to select as major figures of his administration persons not steeped in that culture and its premises. Thus, a fighter in the Oval Office would be encysted with Establishment figures from the start of his tenure. Those “flappers” would perpetually counsel the president against any policy or initiative that might rock the boat. They would work to exclude from the president’s consciousness any individual or proposal that might countervail Establishment policy.
It happened to Ronald Reagan; it would surely happen to Scott Walker, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz. If not futile ab initio, resistance would be difficult at best.
To sum up: working to change the system from within it has never faced such long odds. There are no guarantees in politics, of course; it’s still remotely possible that a fighter in the Oval Office could mobilize significant changes back toward Constitutional governance. But it’s not the way to bet.
There are more promising directions for freedom advocates than conventional political involvement. One is private action: the weakening of the Omnipotent State by seizing its supposed duties and discharging them through voluntary mechanisms. Another is the pursuit of off-the-grid status, whether complete or partial, such that one’s public profile is minimized. A third, flight, remains problematic for the present, though progress in geoformy (e.g., the construction of artificial islands) and private spaceflight hold out some hope for the future.
To those straining to put a sound conservative fighter in the Oval Office: May God smile upon your efforts. But don’t kid yourselves about the size and power of the forces aligned against you. They’ll do whatever it takes to keep the boat steady. They’ve proved remarkably good at it for half a century and more.