Opinion - The "Establishment" On Trial

by Placerville Newswire / Feb 15, 2016 / comments

After the New Hampshire primary results, it is appropriate for those of us who have obtained the status of the “establishment” to consider our path and purpose.

This reflection must be done not only by my brethren in the Republican Party but also by our fellow travelers in the Democratic Party.

To begin with, it should be noted that if you hold major public office and actively participate with other officeholders in your party — or, god forbid, with officeholders in the other party — in the act of legislating or governing, you are part of the “establishment.”     

You cannot avoid this leper-like status unless you are willing to degrade, in the manner of Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders, all those around you who also hold office. 

Ideally, one should present one’s fellow officeholders as dupes of the powerful interests behind the curtain who we know control all things. 

Thus you must accept your role as the purveyor of ills that confront our nation, and the tool of someone out there whom we do not know, but who is obviously doing better than most.   

Most importantly, it is likely that you have committed the cardinal sin of the establishment politician: you have tried to govern. Worse yet, you may have tried to govern in a bipartisan way.

Since it has been thus determined that you are a member of the "establishment," it is time for you to confess and face up to the course of the nation as it sets off in the direction of “The Donald” or “The Bern”.

And what is that direction?  Why is it so alien to those of us who have gained this terrible designation of “establishment”?

First, the rise of candidates such as Donald Trump and Sanders is rooted in massive frustration with the direction of the country. 

This emotion is not unique to the supporters of The Bern and The Donald. But if you are "establishment," you are not trusted by those supporters.   

It is ironic that The Bern and The Donald are joined at the hip with this concern as the fuel of their engines because one is a pure socialist and the other is a pure capitalist. 

But they are so joined. The people who they draw to them feel fundamentally disenfranchised from the present system of governance which — for the moment at least — we call constitutional, checks-and-balances democracy and a market economy.

This frustration, according to the supporters of The Bern or The Donald, is incomprehensible to those who are in the “establishment.”   

Under the new regime of politics, all the failures of the nation, whether economic, political or social, need to be met with pure outrage. And their correction can be handled with singular and simple actions.  

This is the catechism of The Bern and The Donald. As an “establishment” person, you simply must learn this or be shunned.

Inexplicably, as an “establishment” crony there is that little voice that keeps speaking in the back of your head that says thing like:   

How does socialism, which destroyed millions of lives and the economies of successful nations throughout the twentieth century, work better in the twenty-first century?  

Or, how does insulting massive numbers of Americans including women, the disabled, immigrants and people of other religions, build up a nation that was founded on the idea of “e pluribus Unum”? How does it carry forward the optimism that has always been the cultural center of our country?

Of course, as part of your confession, you must expunge such thoughts.   

We may have skipped over 1984 successfully but we still have a shot at 2084 or sooner to totally undermine the core elements that have given our nation its freedom and economic success.   

Specifically, the reality that market economies lift exponentially more boats than collectivist economies is being eroded. So too is the sense that our nation’s strength comes from everyone getting to participate and being respected for their contribution to building a better country.

It may be that the “establishment” has been driven from the field of play.  

It is also true that this pummeling is the result of the failure of this president to lead effectively, and of the Congress to avoid gridlock on the core issues that concern people, such as national security, economic growth and the passing of a better and fiscally sound nation to our children. 

The "establishment" is rightly indicted for this nonfeasance. We confess.

But, neither the catastrophically bad path of socialism presented by The Bern or the excessive simplicity offered by The Donald will lead to anything other than failure.  

The populist causes they espouse have a history of leading nations toward chaos and dramatically reducing the standard of living for the citizens of those nations.

The simple fact is that government, especially under our unique constitutional structure, cannot work without people of good intention and purpose trying to make it work. 

They do this by building on inherent strengths and driving consensus on core issues through strong leadership.   

This is the establishment path and over 200-plus years it has worked fairly well.

Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee. He has endorsed Jeb Bush in this year's presidential race.