Friday, April 29, 2016

Donald Trump: Establishment choice

One of the more popular explanations people have given for supporting Donald Trump for President is he is willing to stick it to the "GOP establishment" (or "GOPe").

Trump supporters have this belief that he's willing to enact policies which D.C. Republicans are afraid to even broach (e.g. a yuuuuuge border fence, bombing the s**t out of ISIS, etc.). Never mind that many (if not all) of Trump's policy initiatives lack any substantive game plan. Remember, he's the ultimate deal maker. The idea in negotiations is to start with an absurd proposal and then work towards a more palatable conclusion. A President Trump may get a border fence, but he'd have to acquiesce to some  Democrat demands such as tax increases, expansion of certain social programs, etc. And he'd be OK with that because, contrary to the popular belief among the barking, clapping seals Trump supporters, he doesn't have nearly as much interest in "making America great again" as he does solidifying his legacy as the ultimate negotiator and deal maker.

While Trump supporters refuse to believe they're being played, they're now having to face the realization that their "anti-establishment" candidate actually may not be all that unpopular among establishment types.

Over the last 24 hours, Donald Trump and his allies have giddily quoted and cheered on two unlikely figures: Former House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump cited McConnell on the stump, attacking Cruz for antagonizing many of his colleagues in the US Senate. And Trumpworld is reveling in on-the-record comments from Boehner, who called Cruz "Lucifer in the flesh," and a "miserable" SOB. The Trump train is ostensibly fueled by anger at Washington's various betrayals, and a rigged system that benefits insiders and elites at the expense of average Americans. But the billionaire's bandwagon is more than happy to embrace card-carrying, central-casting members of The Establishment, so long as they're saying or doing things that are deemed helpful to the 'Trumpstablishment.' Trump supporters angrily rail against Beltway fat cats who "go along to get along" in political fights, then prance from one lavish cocktail party to the next, toasting their own superiority. Then they'll turn around and applaud bona fide establishment fixtures -- from Rudy Giuliani, to Newt Gingrich, to Boehner and McConnell -- while applying that now-meaningless term to conservatives who oppose Trump on policy and ideological grounds. Suddenly "go along to get along" is a necessary and laudable dealmaking virtue, and policy arguments are for uppity, weak-kneed nerds.

In 2014, I and many others worked on behalf of (and donated money to) Republican candidates in an effort to regain the majority in the U.S. Senate and tighten the stranglehold on the U.S. House. While both occurred, the "non-establishment" crowd chided us for such efforts, essentially saying they were in vain because the "establishment" would sell out the people. Even if that were true (it's not, by the way), many Trumpkins are now embracing the very figureheads of the very GOPe they have decried from the outset. What's even more rich is that someone like Ted Cruz is now being labeled as an "establishment" type.

You just can't make this stuff up.


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