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June 11, 2014

David Brat's Victory Helps the GOP -- and the Establishment, Too

When Establishment politicians were beating their Tea Party challengers, the gloating from the Establishment was unseemly and toxic.

What were they celebrating, exactly? Having crushed the political aspirations of half of the GOP?

It's one thing to gloat and do endzone dances when you beat the opposing party. True, in that case, you're also celebrating the despair of millions of Americans.

But we can't completely end bad behavior. What we can do is confine it, limit it, set up socially-acceptable safe harbors for it, while otherwise squelching it.

We cannot deny ourselves the joy of winning an election, nor the schadenfreude of seeing a hated rival brought low.

But such Endzone Touchdown Dances are unseemly and destructive when directed at those inside the political family.

Now, Establishment types will point out, with great justification, that the Tea Party has not been abashed about celebrating and spiking the ball when they defeat an Establishment figure. The Tea Party doesn't worry too much about the Establishment's feelings when they whoop the Establishment.

True, but that doesn't give the Establishment license to do the same. The Establishment is the Establishment largely because they represent -- at least for now -- the dominant clique within the larger faction.

And those in a dominant position are expected to exercise their dominant power with more decorum and maturity than insurgents (who are generally expected to behave like teenagers at a keg party, and seldom disappoint those expectations).

In addition, part of the Establishment's justification for their continuation as the dominant faction within the conservative movement is that they are far more politically savvy and far more cunning and judicious in their political rhetoric than the Tea Party insurgents.

The Establishmentarians are the Adults in the Room. That's their selling point.

If the alleged "Adults in the Room" are going to engage in juvenile, puerile dick-measuring and chest-thumping, then what good are they?

If they're simultaneously squishes (or worse) on actual policy and also impolitic and intemperate as regards comportment, what conceivable theory exists to support their continued dominance of the conservative movement?

If I'm in the mood for impolitic and intemperate and politically naive, well, then I'll take the impolitic and intemperate and politically naive Tea Party candidate who actually wants to cut federal spending.

But here's how the Brat win actually helps the Establishment far more than they realize:

Does the Establishment really want to crush the spirit of millions of potentially energetic and industrious political partisans?

Do they really want to convince 40% of the party that they have No Hope Whatsoever?

Do they really want to convince so many people, who would otherwise vote 88% Republican, to just give up on politics completely and tend only their own farms?

Whether the Establishment understands this or not -- and despite their protestations, they don't seem to have very much more emotional intelligence than those Tea Party wack-a-doos they despise -- it is critical to a political movement for the partisans within it to feel as if they actually have a chance to prevail in the marketplace of ideas, to feel as if the game is not entirely rigged against them.

For all the Establishment anger and angst over Cantor's loss -- and Cochran's likely upcoming loss -- would the Establishment really prefer that the Tea Party agree with Barack Obama that the Conservative Cause is doomed and that the only route forward is acquiescence to the relentless march towards the Socialist States of America?

Everything Obama has done since he began running has been calculated to create a sense of inevitability, in his own partisans but even more importantly in hostile partisans.

From the relentless attempts to create a false bandwagon effect, to demonizing and intimidating opponents, to abusing and prosecuting whistleblowers, to accumulating more and more power in his own clumsy, ratty hands, Barack Obama's insight into politics -- borne of his natural base cunning and his years of apprenticeship in the Chicago Machine -- is that the easiest way to win a war is to break the heart of your opponent, such that he never bothers fighting in the first place.

Does the Establishment really wish to join Barack Obama in convincing the Tea Party that they are racist relics of a well-lost age? Do they wish to add to Barack Obama's efforts to make Americans feel that they are doomed, powerless, and bred only to serve?

I should certainly hope not (though I'm sure some commenters will say that that's precisely what the Establishment wants).

Political partisans can either be spirited or dispirited. Spirited partisans may cause some trouble, and may pick some fights, especially when they get the crazy idea in their heads that they ought to have a say in their own political destiny (what a Revolting thought!), but here's the thing: They actually fight for something.

The dispirited just keep their heads down low and go along with whatever the socially-dominant faction says. And as the socially-dominant faction is, and likely will be for 40 years, the progressives/socialists, dispirited partisans will tend to either opt out of the system entirely or simply do as their socialist masters wish.

It's better to have spirited partisans.

There is no political movement that ever advanced without spirit or hope.

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posted by Ace at 04:09 PM

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