It will come as a shock to many that in this, the year of the outsider, the ‘establishment’ is still very likely to come out on top.
I said early on that despite his strongest protestations, Donald Trump is an establishment candidate. At that point I did not even realize the precision of my statement. I only meant that with his money, fame, longstanding political connections and easy access to the media, he was very much LIKE the establishment we have come to disdain.
Of course, Trump wants you to believe that any candidate other than Trump is the establishment, as if the mere fact that he is not currently holding elected office makes him a foreigner to the game. This isn’t because he finds himself necessarily ideologically bound to an outsider position, but because it is the position that he calculated would be his best possible approach to obtain the position of immense power he has been seeking now for over 28 years.
Yes, 28 years. Remember that Donald first pondered the idea of running for president as a republican in 1988, but when he realized his positions didn’t line up with the republican party at that time, he rebranded and took more serious steps in 1999 under a reform party platform. When his reform candidacy never produced any steam, he rebranded himself again into a left-leaning New York moderate until 2015 when he saw the perfect opening to further his quest to run the country. He held his famous July “they’re rapists” announcement speech, and BAM! he was rebranded as a straight-talking anti establishment outsider. Armed only with angry speech and lacking foundation in any tangible principles, he was ultimately challenged in the outsider lane by Ted Cruz. Whether you think Ted Cruz or Donald Trump won the exchange (I have an opinion, but I prefer neither of these two), it is revealing that Ted Cruz stayed where he was, and Donald ran for cover in the most unlikely of places. This week, Donald has rebranded once again, and willingly accepted his new role as the establishment favorite.
It started early last week when Trump, facing polling pressure in Iowa, sounded his dog whistle to the establishment deal-makers, that he would not blow up the Washington game, but would join in, even if as referee. In an interview on Fox and Friends, Trump upped the ante on his attacks on Ted Cruz: “When you have somebody that can’t get along with anybody in Washington, you’re not going to get deals done,” he explained. Finally, when asked how he would operate in Washington, he casually revealed how he will get those WINS he’s been promising us: “You get Congress, you get ‘em together, you get everybody together in a room, you cajole, you get along, you have dinner, and you make deals.”
This is textbook Establishment operating procedure. In fact, on day one of Establishment orientation, on page one of the Establishment handbook, it says “We make deals.” The generally accepted conservative principle is that our elected leaders have done enough cajoling. We know what happens when they make deals. Gang of Eight was a deal. Omnibus was a deal. Obamacare was a deal. Politicians on both sides won. We lost.
Three days after the “Nasty” Cruz rant, Donald Trump put his dog whistle away and shouted from the bullhorn. This is a video of Donald Trump standing in front of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit (this is what the ‘outsiders’ call a special interest group) pledging his commitment to federal government subsidies while READING FROM A SCRIPT. He recites his oath at around 1:38. For the man who ‘tells it like it is’ and ‘won’t ever use a teleprompter’, certainly his supporters were disappointed to watch him read ceremonial words of loyalty to Iowa’s largest special interest, even though he claims to have written the words (“I wrote some stuff down”). On a discrete side note, in the furtherance of RFS, Trump puzzlingly assigned a large regulatory role to the EPA, one of two federal government departments he previously said he would consider eliminating.
In typical Establishment fashion, Trump’s pledge to the Corn people garnered a quick return. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. We all win.” Within hours of his impassioned ethanol speech, one of the longest sitting pieces of GOP furniture in the nation with over 35 years in office, Terry Branstad, broke with longstanding tradition of pretending to be neutral, and publicly endorsed Trump. (Technically, he did not endorse Trump, he merely said Iowa needed to defeat Cruz), but in a race that has been all but narrowed down to Cruz/Trump, this is endorsement by default.
To pit establishment against establishment (Trump/Clinton) like we haven’t seen since Bush/Gore would be a tragic result in a year with several solid conservative candidates.
Even the Trump loyalists must admit he is a different candidate this week than he was three weeks ago. The scripted ethanol speech paints a clear picture. Donald Trump wants to win. He will say anything, and be anyone, to claim victory.
Ask yourself: who will he become if he wins the nomination? To contend with Hillary, Trump WILL MOVE LEFT. Disagree with me? What set of core principles has Donald Trump enunciated that you believe he will fall back on?
Meanwhile, Donald’s new friends in the hallowed halls of venerable GOP society have found another way to win.