A recent piece in Washington Monthly’s “Ten Miles Square” blog by Jonathan Bernstein decried the use of “Establishment” to describe elements or factions of the Republican Party. However, careful scrutiny of the GOP identifies these perceived nameless faces, revealing their effects and continued influence on the party.
Several existing definitions of the elusive “Republican Establishment” have been
propagated. David Brooks professed the belief that it is “anyone who knows what Newt Gingrich is really like.” Dan McLaughlin explains that the Establishment differs from the new, Tea Party-infused brand of conservatism in its willingness to preserve the status quo in regards to the size of government. Though partially instructive, these definitions fail to pinpoint the people and personalities that comprise and characterize the true Establishment: the Established Republicans, Moneybags, Media, Pseudo Intellectuals and They-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
The simplest way to define a party’s establishment is by recognizing its longest-serving and influential members of Congress. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who if re-elected will be the longest serving current GOP senator, best exemplifies this brand. Consistently pro-military, this founder of the Federalist Society has often introduced a balanced budget amendment yet has also voted for numerous debt-ceiling increases. Chuck Grassley (IA), Jeff Sessions (AL) and Lindsey Graham (SC) are also stringent anti-environmentalists who promote national defense. Graham’s case is especially instructive of the modern GOP – he once supported climate change legislation but later flip-flopped in order to accommodate offshore drilling. Sessions, for his part, would like to see the Bush tax cuts become permanently enshrined in law.
The Moneybags are a facet of the Establishment that facilitates the election of Republicans sympathetic to their causes by monetary means. Karl Rove is representative of this label but serves as the tactician to bring about the Moneybags’ agendas. This honorific title goes to gentlemen such as Edward Conrad, Louis Moore Bacon and Paul Edgerly, gurus in the world of finance. As well, the construction moguls such as H. Gary Morse, Howard Groff and Bob Perry – best known for his generous donation to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth – are longtime GOP donors. No list of Republican donors would be complete without energy-sector billionaires such as Robert Rowling and Harold Simmons, who built a radioactive dump for waste in Texas that cannot be filled due to existing regulations on nuclear waste.
A number of prominent journalists and intellectuals play a role in formulating and articulating expressions of the Establishment. George Will – who has infamously compared the GOP Establishment to the Loch Ness monster – is undoubtedly a card-carrying member. In 2009, Will misstated evidence from the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center, claiming that global ice sea levels in 2009 were identical to those in 1979. This fabrication fits into the widespread denial of climate change that has festered in the modern GOP. In addition, the aforementioned Brooks has been referred to as neoconservative in Salon for his writing in support of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
The Pseudo-Intellectuals differ slightly from the Media, consisting of well-educated individuals who head advocacy and research organizations of a certain ideological slant. The most prominent example is Harvard graduate Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, whose Taxpayer Protection Pledge has handcuffed Republicans running for Congress to the Bush tax cuts. Norquist, also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, endeavored to build a center-right coalition to pull out of Afghanistan, but only after public opinion had turned against war.
Finally, there exists a secret part of the Republican Establishment – the ones they hope you don’t know about: They-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Company. This group implemented all essential elements of Establishment dogma and was held in contempt by a vast majority of Americans after doing so.
Why are they so ignored, even by members of the Republican Establishment?
Because the Establishment is composed of old dogs with no new tricks who are relying on American amnesia in hopes that they can reinstitute their agenda once they regain the reins of power.
Want more? Head to: