Saturday, December 12, 2015

Voters Are More Guilty Than The Establishment

Here's something I recently wrote in an email, in case anybody would find it helpful. I'm responding to an article by Ben Shapiro :

Shapiro's argument doesn't make much sense. There are major obstacles to Trump's winning the nomination, which Shapiro doesn't even mention. His negative numbers among Republicans are unusually high, and his negatives are even worse outside of the party. When it's still 2015, there's still a double-digit number of candidates running, and most of the negative ads against Trump haven't even started airing yet, his consistently getting in the twenties or thirties in polls doesn't amount to much.

The phrase "the establishment" is vague and defined and redefined in so many ways. If everybody would stop using the term, I think we'd be better off for it. The phrase didn't have much value to begin with, and it's now been overused to an absurd degree.

Is Karl Rove part of the establishment? He recently told Michael Medved that he includes Cruz among the candidates he considers to have the stature of a president. He didn't include Trump. What about the National Review writers who have been most vocal in opposing Trump? I've repeatedly seen them make positive comments about Cruz and comment on how he's an acceptable choice and better than Trump. Shapiro's claim that Cruz is the candidate the establishment is most opposed to strikes me as ridiculous. They'd prefer Cruz to Trump.

And given how conservative Rubio is, I'd say that the widespread support for him among people often labeled as part of the establishment goes a long way in demonstrating that the establishment isn't opposed to conservatism. Their problem with candidates like Trump and Carson (and Cruz to a lesser extent) isn't that they're conservative. (As if Trump is too conservative for them.) Rather, they're concerned about electability. And they should be. Shame on the people who either aren't concerned about it or are far less concerned than they ought to be.

There are some problems with many of the people who are often labeled as part of the establishment. But the problems are often exaggerated, and a lot of their critics have some problems of their own.

Shapiro's comments about talk radio are misleading. He writes:

"Members of Republican media are now attacking others in Republican media who don’t see Trump as the gravest threat to the Republican Party or the republic; they bash Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin for focusing in on the left and the media, rather than on stopping Trump."

The problem critics see with people like Limbaugh and Levin isn't that they "don’t see Trump as the gravest threat to the Republican Party or the republic" and "focus in on the left and the media". Rather, the problem is along the lines of what Guy Benson describes in his article I recently linked on Triablogue.

Then there's Shapiro's failure to criticize the people most responsible for choosing our candidates and the people most responsible for making poor choices in the past: the voters. Who chose McCain and Romney? Voters made the choice more than anybody else. And they rejected candidates like Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Perry in the process. I can see rejecting some of them. But choosing Romney over Pawlenty was a mistake. That wasn't the establishment's mistake. It was the mistake of the voters, and talk radio and other critics of the establishment were at the forefront of making that mistake happen. They were focused on Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and other weaker candidates while they gave Pawlenty almost no support. They rejected Rick Perry for far less significant problems than the ones many of them are willing to overlook in Trump.

For a party that puts so much emphasis on personal responsibility, Republicans spend a remarkable amount of time blaming a vague establishment and not much time holding the voters responsible for their mistakes.


  1. It's become a circular definition: anyone opposing Trump is by definition "the establishment."

  2. Thanks, Jason. This is helpful and informative!

  3. By the way, I could easily be wrong, but I suspect "establishment" may primarily refer to those party members who can donate the big bucks. Not just the hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars but perhaps hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars. Just a guess, but again I could be entirely wrong.