Why The GOP Establishment (NOT Conservatism Inc.!) Has Been Tip-Toeing To Trump
Print Friendly and PDF
I don’t have the faintest idea who will win the Iowa caucuses on Monday (and neither does anybody else) although if forced to bet, I would bet on Trump. But as the GOP nomination battle has appeared to narrow down to Ted Cruz vs. Donald Trump, something unexpected has occurred: Many in the previously hysterically anti-Trump GOP Establishment began tip-toeing towards him—and, emphatically, away from Cruz. Why?

Before explaining this phenomenon, it’s important to distinguish between the Republican Party Establishment and Conservatism Inc. The GOP Establishment used to be easy to define. It consisted of the moderate and liberal Northeast Wing of the Party that supported Willkie, Dewey, Eisenhower, Rockefeller, and Ford in contrast to the Heartland and Western conservatives like Taft, McCarthy, Goldwater and then Reagan.

Old WASP Rockefeller Republicans like Lincoln Chafee are now often Democrats. Today, the Establishment does not present as Northeastern WASPs, but a professional and ideological class: the lobbyists, donors, consultants and party bureaucrats, and the elected officials they support, whose primary objective is to get Republicans into office, with little concern for ideology.

In contrast, what VDARE.com calls Conservatism Inc. is the journalists, think tanks, ideological donors (like the Koch Brothers) and staffers who obsess over ideological wonkery. They have principles of sorts, but over trivial issues—like the Export Import Bank. Conservatism Inc. actually believes voters care about these issues and has hammered Trump over eminent domain and ethanol subsidies. National Review even said the latter should be “A Simple Conservative Litmus Test” [Maria Loyola, January 23, 2016]

Both the GOP Establishment and Conservatism Inc. have typically been hostile to patriotic immigration reform. They both seem to honestly believe that winning the Hispanic vote is necessary for the future of the GOP, despite repeated refutations. Cheap labor interests fund both the GOP Establishment and Conservatism Inc., and the latter often holds universalistic and libertarian ideological beliefs as well.

But despite this shared support for mass immigration, Conservatism Inc. often pretends it is at war with the GOP Establishment. Ann Coulter masterfully exposed this charade at the 2013 CPAC.

the scapegoating of a fake Republican establishment . . .is allowing the real Republican establishment to plot and scheme undetected. My example of this is: What public policy will harm average Americans, drive up unemployment, change America permanently in negative ways and on the other hand is supported by businessmen who will never vote for a Republican anyway?

Amnesty for illegal aliens! And half of elected Republicans support it, as far as I can tell most conservative talk radio and TV hosts support it.

You want the Republican Establishment, that‘s the Republican Establishment. [Ann Coulter’s CPAC Speech: The Transcript (With Links) That The MSM Somehow Forgot To Post, March 25, 2013]

Without using VDARE.com terminology, the New York Times has explained how Conservatism Inc. has lined up against Trump, while the Establishment prefers him to Cruz:
“The Republicans who dominate the right-leaning magazines, journals and political groups can live with Mr. Cruz, believing that his nomination would leave the party divided, but manageably so, extending a longstanding intramural debate over pragmatism versus purity that has been waged since the days of Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller. They say Mr. Trump, on the other hand, poses the most serious peril to the conservative movement since the 1950s-era far-right John Birch Society.”
In contrast
…the cadre of Republican lobbyists, operatives and elected officials based in Washington is much more unnerved by Mr. Cruz, a go-it-alone, hard-right crusader who campaigns against the political establishment and could curtail their influence and access, building his own Republican machine to essentially replace them.

[Donald Trump or Ted Cruz? Republicans Argue Over Who Is Greater Threat, by Jonathan Martin, January 21, 2016]

Regardless of the reasons, the NYT’s Martin is certainly correct about the split. As we’ve reported, Conservatism Inc. is almost unanimously against Trump because (among other things) he has shown that voters do not care about their pet causes and that a nationalist candidate can climb the polls without begging for their support—either directly or ideologically.

Commenting another such analysis [The GOP establishment capitulates to Donald Trump, by Greg Sargent, Washington Post, January 22, 2016], liberal immigration patriot Mickey Kaus speculated on eight possible reasons for the Establishment’s easing, though he was not confident about any of them. They included: a Machiavellian desire to harm Trump (after all, he seemed to get stronger after they attacked him); a desire to bow to the inevitable; a belief the Trump is more electable than Cruz, and—most worrying to Kaus—a belief that they could ultimately get Amnesty passed with Trump. [8 Theories in Search of an Establishment, Kausfiles, January 25, 2016]

My view: I actually am willing to take the GOP Establishment at its word. Generally, there seem to be three reasons why they tend to support Trump over Cruz. The question is whether these should concern immigration patriots. I don’t believe so.

1) Electability: As I noted, above all, the GOP Establishment is invested in having a Republican president. While I think most of the Establishment has drunk the Hispanic vote Kool-Aid, they do see that Trump is bringing in previously disaffected white working class voters.

As Senator Orrin Hatch noted: "For us to win, we have to appeal the moderates and independents. We can't just act like that only one point of view is the only way to go. That's where Ted is going to have some trouble." Trump, in contrast is doing well among moderate GOP voters and working class voters. Hatch said "I've come around a little bit on Trump." He said. "I'm not so sure we'd lose if he's our nominee because he's appealing to people who a lot of the Republican candidates have not appealed to in the past." [The Ted Cruz pile on: GOP senators warn of revolt should he win nomination, by Manu Raju, CNN, January 21, 2016]

To the extent the GOP Establishment believes this, this is a major step forward. While corporate America in general has pushed for mass immigration, the desire for cheap labor does not explain why donors, lobbyists, and executives in finance, industry, technology, and other sectors that do not particularly need cheap unskilled labor have promoted it. I suspect that for these it is less cheap labor than stupidity—believing the conventional wisdom that Republicans need to support Amnesty to win national elections.

If Trump wins the election, especially if he does so without doing any worse among Hispanics than other GOP candidates, res ipsa loquitur.

2) Someone the GOP Establishment can work with.

Bob Dole said: “He’s got the right personality and he’s kind of a deal-maker.” Craig Shirley, quoted in U.S. News & World Report, said: “Ultimately, the Washington establishment deep down—although they find Trump tacky or distasteful—they think that they ultimately can work with him.” [The GOP establishment embraces Donald Trump because he's not Ted Cruz, by Robert Schlesinger, January 21, 2016]

Three of Trump’s most high-profile “Establishment” tip-toers—Trent Lott, Rudy Giuliani, and Bob Dole—all work as lobbyists. Similarly, the New York Time’s s Martin cited three other leading GOP lobbyists who said they could work with Trump.

Does the fact that Trump will compromise and make deals mean he’d be a disaster? Of course not. Immigration patriots have been playing defense for years. Obama and George Bush would never sign any good bill, so all we had to do was obstruct. However, if we have an immigration patriot in the White House, he will have to make concessions to pass his agenda.

Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney has written fearfully about the deals President Trump might negotiate. He might go

…to the Chamber of Commerce” and say “I need to reduce the number of legal immigrants, in exchange, I'll give your members some good contracts to build a wall, and many more guest-worker visas. I'll even throw in some sweet tax credits and loan guarantees for the hospitality industry. Deal?”

[Donald Trump: The lobbyists' dream come true, January 26, 2016]

For Carney, whose journalism and think tank career is dedicated to fighting “crony capitalism,” this is supposed to be a bad thing. Personally, however, I’d gladly trade loan guarantees and earmarks to save America.

(Of course guest workers are not ideal. But under certain conditions—no birthright citizenship and requiring that a large portion of the guest workers’ salary goes into escrow, which they can only access after they leave the country—they can truly be temporary).

3) Party Infrastructure.

Lobbyist Richard Hohlt told the New York Times’ Martin, “Do they all love Trump? No. But there’s a feeling that he is not going to layer over the party or install his own person. Whereas Cruz will have his own people there.”

The maxim “personnel is policy” is clichéd but true. The giant federal bureaucracy is too large for the president to micromanage, and so whoever he appoints greatly affects policy. And even if the GOP loses in the general election, the nominee will effectively control the party apparatus.

Ted Cruz is a career Conservatism Inc. operative. And while we can criticize Conservatism Inc. for being ineffectual, it certainly has its own institutions. If Cruz gets the nomination, he will likely push out many of the GOP Establishment types from the party apparatus and replace them from with the staffs of the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. And Conservatism Inc. would be guaranteed even more jobs if Cruz won the White House,

In contrast, even if Trump wanted to staff the party and his Administration with immigration patriots, our institutions are too small to really provide more than a handful of people. The GOP Establishment is right that Trump will not likely clean house if he gets the nomination.

However, as I have said, the GOP Establishment is, marginally, less bad than Conservatism Inc. on mass immigration. And a Trump candidacy—regardless of whether he wins the general election— will help grow immigration patriot institutions, independent of Conservatism Inc.

When Ronald Reagan was asked about the John Birch Society’s support of him, he said it evidenced that he had “persuaded them to accept my philosophy, not me accepting theirs.”

GOP Establishment support of Donald Trump, to the extent it exists, is not evidence of either. Rather it’s evidence of them slowly coming to grips to reality as Donald Trump shatters all of their past illusions.

And one of those illusions is that America’s post-1965 immigration disaster can continue any longer.

Washington Watcher [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.

Print Friendly and PDF