There has been a lot of discussion around the terms “conservative” and “Establishment.”
If you are reading this blog, you are not unaware of the ever increasing divide between the Republican Party bosses and their minions in Washington, DC and those who live in real America. At the center of this fight are ideology and control of the Party of Reagan. Even just as important are the definitions of the words “conservative” and “Establishment.”
In 2014, the team at Madison Project and I corporately wrote a blog titled, “Defining Conservatism.” Having just re-read the post, I believe it still holds up. There are tenets that define the word “conservatism” as a whole, much like the tenets of faith. You either believe in something or you don’t. For those living in our modern age, the thought of actually believing or not believing in something is an antithesis to how recent generations have been taught to think. To sum all that up, it boils down to, “Hey, if it works for you, do it.” There is nothing new under the sun. There was, after all, a time when “every man did what was right in his own eyes.”
Bottom line is that you can define “conservatism” in a very concise way. It is the belief that individuals know best, not the government, in all areas of life. Any attempt to grow the latter and its intrusion into our lives is, well, not conservative. Taxes, ever expanding bureaucracy, more government red tape-these and more fall into the “not conservative” column.
Enter the term “Establishment.” It was with some interest that I noticed Senator John Thune of South Dakota (who I know-my dad and he served in the House of Representatives together) said last week that he was “very offended by being called ‘The Establishment’.”
If you click on the hyper-link above, you will note that Senator Thune has a 48% on the Conservative Review scorecard. He also holds a 54% on the Heritage Action scorecard and a -25.5% on the Madison Performance Index. Some will trot out other scorecards like the American Conservative Union and say, “Buuh, but he has an 86% on the American Conservative Scorecard!” Keep in mind the ACU is the same group that also gives out awards to the likes of Mitch McConnell, including the Award for Conservative Achievement in 2015.
Chew on that one for a second. . . .
So what does “Establishment” mean? How do we define it?
The simple answer is: the opposite of conservatism. And if conservatism is the approach that individuals know best, not the government, and therefore seek to constrain the size, scope and intrusion of government into our lives, then being part of the Establishment means that those who are part of it believe government knows best, not individuals, and do nothing to constrain the size, scope and intrusion of it into our lives and, in fact, seek to grow it that they may benefit from its growth. The latter is collusion between Big Business and Big Government.
Can it be that simple, you ask?
But for more clarity, in 2015 alone, Senator Thune voted for the DHS bill that funded amnesty. He voted for the $500 billion Doc Fix, No Child Left Behind Reauthorization, the Continuing Resolution that funds Planned Parenthood and in 2014 for the $956 billion Farm Bill, calling it “a significant win.” Add to all this what the Conservative Review team wrote:
“Not surprisingly, as a member of the Agriculture Committee, Thune has supported consistent federal involvement in farm subsidies. And as a member of the panel overseeing transportation, he has supported federal control of infrastructure and is a proponent of earmarks.”
There’s a lot more I could add to this. Things like, “If you are part of the Establishment, you work to maintain the status quo.” Or, “If you are part of the Establishment, you run around talking about all the stand alone bills you voted for that have no chance of becoming law.”
Or, last but not least, your sentences justifying your political existence begin with, “Look, there is no one more conservative (or pro-life) than I am, but. . . ”
While not the definitive post on what “Establishment” means, let’s at least use this as a marker going forward.