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George Will And the Establishment Republicans

Here’s a bit of George Will from the archives

But Reagan is 63, and looks it. His hair is still remarkably free of gray, but around the mouth and neck he looks like an old man. He’s never demonstrated substantial national appeal. His hardcore support today consists primarily of the kamikaze conservatives who thought the 1964 Goldwater campaign was jolly fun. And there’s a reason to doubt that Reagan is well suited to appeal to the electorate that just produced a democratic landslide. If a Reagan third party would just lead the “Nixon was lynched” crowd away from the Republican party, and into outer darkness where there is a wailing and gnashing of teeth, it might be at worst a mixed course for the Republican party. It would cost the party some support, but it would make the party seem cleansed.”

So said George Will during the 79 80 election cycle.

Now, please understand before we go any further. This post is not specifically about George Will, but about a line of thinking that he represents here, and it’s one he apparently has never recanted. His insistence in the 76 cycle for Gerald Ford to be the nominee, and his insipid in objections to Reagan’s campaign even then, are of an exact match with his current objection to anyone who dares be conservative. And understand, I do not consider any of the establishment GOP to be of the right.

And yes, we’re talking about his whining about Donald Trump.
Do I consider Donald Trump to be the next Ronald Reagan? No.

That said, I can’t help but notice that his comments as regards Trump and for that matter to a lesser degree Ted Cruz and so on are so close to match to his rhetoric during the 1980 cycle that one could easily substitute one for the other with a simple change of names and dates. Does anyone really suppose, that assuming Trump is moved out Of The Way by some event, that Will wouldn’t be breaking out his poison pen to use against the new non establishment frontrunner?

The fear that Will shows us when he mentions the 64 cycle and Goldwater, is a cancer among the GOP leadership, that has long since metastasized. Despite being shown that their fears are unfounded and being shown a specific path to victory, and an overwhelming victory at that, the GOP establishment is so wrapped up in its fears, that it refuses to actually be conservative. So deeply rooted are those fears, that it’s my belief that even assuming somebody like a Cruz is elected and ends up being a wildly successful president from a conservative point of view, those fears will never be put to rest.

If Reagan and his successes did not teach the GOP establishment the truth of the matter, simply repeating those successes under another name isn’t going to teach them either. Remember, gang, the GOP establishment wasn’t too happy about Reagan back in the day either. That’s how we ended up with Bush for a vice president. The leadership felt the ticket needed what they called balance. They thought Reagan was…. sing along together children…., “too conservative”.

So long as people like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are running the show, the lesson will never be learned institutionally speaking.

To try and explain this, I’m going to draw a parallel from the Christian world, that I hope will give you a framework to understand my thought here. It has long been observed by Christian scholars that there is a large delta between Christian doctrine and Christian tradition. So steeped in that tradition are many people that when it’s pointed out that that tradition runs directly afoul of Christian doctrine, and specifically the Bible, the tradition still thrives. It’s by far the easier path to lean on tradition then it is to actually examine the Bible to find the actual doctrine.

Alas, so it is with me GOP leadership. The rank and file of the GOP is by far more conservative than the leadership is, and has a better idea of what we are supposed to be about. The leadership is so wrapped up in its fearful traditions, that it stands no chance whatsoever to fight for the values they claim to support. Which, in turn, is how we end up with the John McCains the Mitt Romney’s and the Jeb Bush’s of the world. And how it is that we have a huge number of the of the rank and file sitting on their hands during every election cycle.

One can easily understand why the conservative gets disrespected by the GOP leadership. After all, they are being asked by the tenants of the conservatism to reject the use of the power that they have in their hands to “effect change”. It doesn’t take too many years for somebody with power in their hands to start seeing it as a good thing as opposed to the evil that needs to be controlled as the founders saw it. I suggest that this is precisely why the founders never foresaw the terror of multi-decade “service” in government. Do you know, that if there was a 12 year limit on service in Congress for example, was that over a half of the congressman and senators would have to go find themselves a real job?

Clearly the intent of the founders was to make sure that people coming into both houses of Congress would not be there long enough to become infected by the love of power. By the love of government power.

There’s something else, here too. The GOP establishment is deathly afraid of being seen as conservative, because they’re still shooting at the political center. Well, children, the political center is a myth. It does not exist in this country. Never has.

Consider the liberal reaction also to George W Bush, whom they compared to Adolf Hitler. And Bush wasn’t a conservative. Neither was his old man. Both of them wear at best centrists. Trust me when I tell you, that the left isn’t going to like this any less if we actually stand up for our beliefs.

Which brings me to my final point for this lesson. There’s a reason they don’t stand up for our beliefs, the leadership. It’s because they don’t believe in them. I’ll say this again, the GOP leadership needs to be replaced immediately.

We are now seeing indications that the GOP rank and file has had enough and is about to go nuclear on the leadership. 15 years ago I argued against such an eventuality. Its to the point now where I’m actually looking forward to it because I see it as the only way to save the GOP.