Big Day for the E-Word (Like Every Day)

With the possible exceptions of “and” and “the,” the word that conservatives use more than any other is “establishment.” Just now, I saw a headline that said, “GOP Establishment Win in N.C.”

In a November issue of National Review, I had an essay titled “The E-Word: Thoughts on the use and abuse of ‘establishment.’” See what you think.

Also, I think that people who use the word “establishment” should think about this question: Who is it? What is it? What do I mean? Similarly, thought should be given to the words “neocon” and “Zionist.” There are many other words we could add to the list.

In the current issue of NR, there is an ad that says (with characteristic nuance and typography), “Don’t Let the Republican Establishment Pick another Loser in 2016.” The Establishment, as far as I can tell, is voters: voters in primaries. Sometimes they pick ultimate winners; sometimes they pick ultimate losers. But the people, in primary and general elections, decide.

If there is a Republican establishment — a big, whopping if — then one of its least favorite politicians in the last decade was John McCain. I can tell you as a political journalist, working the GOP side of the fence, that it was very, very hard to find a major Republican willing to say anything good about McCain.

And he was the presidential nominee in ’08 because he was the choice of the voters. He was not my choice: not my first choice. I preferred Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson. Others liked Rudy Giuliani or Mike Huckabee, or someone else. But McCain was the voters’ choice (and I voted for him and Palin enthusiastically over Obama-Biden).

Voters nominated Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin, and all the other nominees. There is no clique in a smoke-filled room. I myself have voted or rooted for many losers — i.e., candidates whom majorities or pluralities have voted against. So? You can’t win ’em all, and this country is not a Dictatorship of Me: Other people have the right to vote, too (frustratingly).

I wish Angle, O’Donnell, Mourdock, Akin, McCain, Romney, and all the others had won. They were a lot better than their Democratic opponents. I have a particular affection for Sharron. Once upon a time, there was a smoke-filled room. Hell, not until 1913 were senators popularly elected. Was it better in the old days? I’m willing to listen, actually.

But today, we have primaries: senatorial, presidential, and so on. If you like Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Romney, Newt, or Huntsman, vote for him. But remember: Others have a vote too, and their preference may not be yours (again, frustratingly).

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