When we were schoolkids, we were taught that the longest word was “antidisestablishmentarianism.” Lately, I’ve been thinking that the most common word is “establishment” — as in “establishment Republican.” I read it every day, especially in the conservative press. I read it in virtually every article about politics, certainly in articles about the Republican party. And I find it nearly as empty and cheap as it is common.
At the end of October, a reporter for the Associated Press wrote, “The GOP is struggling to control tensions between its tea party and establishment wings and watching approval ratings sink to record lows.” Further on in his article, he reached for different language, to describe the same division. He spoke of “business-oriented Republicans and the GOP’s more ideological wing.” None of these words will quite do.