There exists some confusion as to what is the establishment, more so in the 2016 election than at any time before. Republican presidential contenders are divided into two groups, those who are said to be a part of the establishment and those who are not. For the general Republican population the distinction is simple. They keep electing more Republicans to undo the blunders of primarily the Barack Obama administration but nothing changes. They had a long list of things that should have been corrected as Republicans retook, first the House of Representatives and then the U.S. Senate, but weren’t.
The Republican base felt betrayed and career politicians, justly blamed, became toxic to voters. This is why Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee, all past or present governors, have not been able to get traction despite vastly outspending those not considered the establishment. They are viewed as the problem.
Immediately outsiders, those said not to be the establishment, skyrocketed in the polls, notably Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, each a Tea Party sponsored first term U.S. Senator, did not escape the blame game. Only one of these, Ted Cruz, was able to survive and rise because the establishment hated him even more than Trump and he was seen by the Republican base as having stayed loyal to his campaign promises. Rubio was seen as having sold his soul to the establishment and Democrats on immigration as a member of the so-called “gang of eight” and thereafter could not be trusted. Polls soon showed Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, collectively holding almost 60% of the expected voters, as they were seen as the most believable and likely to make the changes demanded by the Republican base. Carson and Carly Fiorina (also an outsider) began to fade.
But longevity in public office is not the real definition of the establishment and scholars, and those well connected politically, understand this very well. The establishment is content to let the definition as described above remain in place as it deflects the angry population from them as being most responsible for selecting our presidents.
The real establishment is the moneyed elite capable of bringing to candidates the millions of dollars that are needed to win. They are in both political parties and they own the major media outlets. This is where the term “establishment media” originates. They only cover two of the more than 20 political parties in existence in any presidential election, many of which offer presidential candidates. Informed voters must get the names of other party candidates from the Federal Election Commission directly. In every presidential election I provide this list to my students and will do so this November for my column readers. The establishment picks winners and losers long before public exposure and guide them through the election process to victory by the money and exposure they allocate.
They have been the most powerful force in elections since Mark Hanna financed William McKinley for president 120 years ago. Payback for them is their ability to guide the nation as they see the need, immunity from any negative influences on their financial empires, and market favoritism should they need it. Benefits include being well connected and the largely secret power that they hold over the government and their crowned candidate.
The crowned Democratic candidate is Hillary Clinton and has been since 2008. For the Republicans it has been Jeb Bush for the last three years. Millions went into his coffers. Both the establishment and Bush were shocked when Trump entered the race and Bush could not ignite a movement for the reasons cited above. He spent millions to change this. Nobody in recent presidential elections has spent the kind of money this early as he. Nobody is more establishment than Bush and Clinton.
By early November the moneyed establishment abandoned Bush and coroneted Marco Rubio. He too flooded the airways with millions in attack ads to raise his poll numbers and has, thus far, placed himself in third position. Still, Trump dwarfs his numbers and the establishment knew that they had to destroy Trump. Virtually everything was tried and failed. They conceded that, barring a major misstep by Trump, one of two men Trump or Cruz (neither owned by them), was going to be the next president.
The establishment hates Trump but they despise Cruz. But there is a big difference Trump, although formerly not a team player for them, and a bit of a rogue, could be counted on to make deals to get things done, Cruz could not. For the first time in a century they would have to work with someone not fully in their camp. But Trump is of the wealthy class so some of their goals he could be counted on to support.
By mid January 2016, Trump was publically noting that the establishment was beginning to like him. They had to have loved his unmerciful attacks on Cruz prior to the Iowa primary. The former friendship between the two collapsed overnight. Cruz noticed the new alliance and began speaking of it as well.
I suppose that either definition of the establishment has its place but the general one will be short termed. Unless more voters pay attention to the moneyed establishment, and it is curbed in its power to control elections, it will be doing so again within eight years.
To read more of Dr. Harold Pease’s weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.