Establishment Republicans, establishment-friendly, establishment-types, establishment politicians, and [insert whatever else you call these people here] do not exist.
Bear with me.
Throughout this delegate/contested convention/rigged system conversation, many have referred to a shadowy cabal of insiders, electeds, and money men that are either currently manipulating events or most assuredly will in the future at a contested convention. In talking about this group, the concerned individuals (mostly Trumpkins and their media shills) also warn of the dire consequences should this cabal decide to “steal” the nomination from Trump. This uber-secret band of fat cats is apparently powerful enough and sufficiently cohesive to get 1,237 delegates to vote for someone other than Trump. Hmm.
Hypothetically speaking, if such a group existed in the form that the Trumpkins say it indeed does, where have they been for the last year and a half?
Some might say, “Well, they backed Jeb Bush with 120 million dollars.” While it is true that Jeb raised 120 million in his failed bid to become the 2016 Republican nominee, his gang of political bosses did a pretty terrible job at clearing the field for him. No less than 9 former or current governors ran for the nomination and were accompanied by four sitting US Senators and Rick Santorum.
This was arguably the strongest Republican field in half a century with 17 candidates – but the “establishment” was all in for Jeb. Sure.
According to 538, Jeb was endorsed by a whopping 5 Senators (including Lindsey Graham) and precisely zero current governors. There has never been a more “establishment” candidate than John Ellis Bush, and you’re telling me that the best they could muster was Orrin Hatch? Yes, Jeb had a lot of money. Truck loads. Tons. Millions. Tens of millions. Which makes me wonder, if this cabal was really behind Jeb, how in the world did they fail to keep Marco Rubio out of the race? For Pete’s sake, they are both from Florida!
Jeb should have been able to make no more than three phone calls making it impossible for Marco to have as much as a lemonade stand in downtown Miami. Of course, none of this happened. Marco was stealing Jeb’s cabal donors left and right throughout the end of last year and continued to do so all the way up until the South Carolina primary. If the money was coming from any organized entity, surely it would have been utilized in a better way. Rather, it seems that a lot of rich people just wanted to shovel exorbitant amounts of money into another Bush campaign.
Forgive me, I digress.
However, to further illustrate my point, in order for this shadowy cartel to exist, you’d think that the most establishmentarian, RINO, posh, old-school Republican candidate in the history of the GOP would do pretty well…right? Honestly, the utter failure and disaster that was Jeb Bush 2016 should point to one overall truth. There is no Republican establishment. There are no smoke-filled rooms where Republicans get together and decide on their Chosen One. The reality is that there are a lot of greedy, narcissistic, power seekers that hold grudges from campaigns ran two or three decades ago. There is no coordination. There is no grand council who runs everything.
It holds true for state, local, and national politics. Ninety percent of the time no one knows what is going on, they instead wisely practice the age-old maxim of “Fake it, ’til you make it.” The sheer number of rivalries, grudges, and back-biting would make it impossible for these folks to ever become a cohesive group that could make a decision of any consequence.
Now, you may ask how I know all of this to be true. I believe the answer to be pretty simple: just look at the results of this election cycle. You’d be hard-pressed to dream up a 2016 scenario that could’ve turned out worse for ‘the establishment’. If they had the power that many say they do, there is no way they would’ve sat idly by as Donald Trump took control of the party.
We are now seeing the talking heads say that ‘the establishment’ is going to somehow anoint their white knight at the convention. Again, a shadowy group that has such a terrible track record in supporting and electing their candidates in multiple election cycles is supposed to be cohesive and organized to the extent that they can corral 1,237 party stalwarts to back their Chosen One who they will no doubt despise? Give me a break.
No one is trying to steal this election. If Donald Trump is stupid enough to ignore the rules regarding how we choose our nominee, he shouldn’t get to blame it on a cabal that doesn’t even exist. While Trump is whining and complaining, Ted Cruz is cleaning up the delegate selection process, virtually ensuring that Trump will lose on the second ballot.
Saying that ‘the establishment” is going to this, or ‘the establishment’ is going to do that, is just a lazy, sensationalized way to make people feel victimized. And when people feel victimized, they become angry that they are being taken advantage of. Then, they conveniently turn on Fox, tune into Rush or Hannity, or go out and vote for Donald Trump. The phrase ‘establishment’ is a tool used by the media to make you feel outraged regarding anything having to do with state or federal legislature(s), elections in general, and now also delegate allocation rules. Because explaining and understanding these things takes time and very few media outlets are willing to forego clicks or flashy headlines to provide you the information.
So, please, let’s all acknowledge that there is no mysterious cartel running the Republican Party and remember that the GOP is a political institution that must have rules in which to operate. Those rules should be fair (which they are) and benefit no candidate over any other (they don’t). Politics ain’t beanbag and if Donald Trump and his ilk can’t take the heat, they should get out of the kitchen.