More Abuse of a Self-Serving Establishment

To accompany Doug Brady’s post about about the latest effort of the Republican establishment to protect itself, look at Jerry Bowyer’s Forbes article on: Kept Conservatives: Prominent Right-Wingers Who Sound Very Liberal:

The kept conservative’s announced job is to represent the conservative point of view, but their real job is to give the illusion of balance without really challenging any of the core tenets of liberalism. They spend lots of time ‘reinventing’ the Republican Party, and the new invention is always the same: more liberal. They live among liberals, their friends are liberals, and, of course, they are paid by liberals. . . .

They raise money from across the U.S. on the grounds that they will represent heartland values in the corrupt seat of political power. But, nevertheless, they live in Washington, D.C., they think like D.C., they are haunted by the fear that if their career flags too much they will be banished from D.C., and they fight each other for the right to sit on the floor nearest the table of the liberals, where they can get the biggest scraps which fall from that table.

They are the loyal opposition: loyal, that is, to the regime, not to the people. They are not the solution. In fact they are more of a problem than the liberals, because when occasionally they are in power, they spout disconnected free-market slogans while they spend us into oblivion and practice crony capitalism, giving free-markets an undeserved black eye. True resistance to socialism will not come from such an opposition force as our current conservative ruling elite. Better no opposition than faux opposition.

I have now gone to several post mortems on the Republican 2012 campaign, and the conclusion, often masked in verbiage, is that the Republicans spent their money in ways that enriched the campaign consultants while the Democrats spent theirs in ways that elected their candidate. It is not surprising that the consultants are releasing squid ink by blaming the Tea Parties — while ignoring the long list of Senate seats that were blown by the establishment. Also, as I said in The Republican Establishment Wants a New People, the establishment wants Tea Party candidates to lose, and happily joins the Progressives in excoriating them for any mistake.

Because the Tea Parties represent spontaneous citizen activism, anyone can present him/herself as a “Tea Party candidate” — and some of these are indeed weird. There is nothing wrong, indeed it is beneficial, for donors and establishment types to vet those they support and call a loser a loser when that is the case. The problem is that the establishment types are inclined to tag anyone not part its racing stable as one of the losers, and this will not do. One of the reasons for supporting Sarah Palin is that her endorsement (or the lack thereof) means something real. I feel that she is trying to tell me the truth, and that cannot be said about many in politics.

As a companion to Bowyer’s piece, the latest City Journal has Hail Columbia! with the subtitle: “The federal government’s relentless expansion has made Washington, D.C., America’s real Second City.” It recounts the tide of wealth rolling through Washington and its environs:

[A] wider and wider variety of businesses and organizations must be located there to lobby the government that decides their fate. (According to the Center for Responsive Politics, total spending on lobbying rose from $1.6 billion in 2000 to $3.3 billion in 2011.) These firms pay local taxes. So do their workers, who also buy houses, patronize stores, pay tuition at private schools, employ local doctors and lawyers, and so on. The regulatory superstate is turbocharging Washington’s local economy.

The author,  Aaron Renn of the Urbanophile, does not think this will end well:

This looks like a winning recipe locally . . . But it’s a loser for America. Even more than the old leaky-bucket system did, the regulatory superstate depends on inflicting pain on the rest of the country, pain that only Washington itself can relieve—if you pay up and have the right connections, that is. Washington’s fortunes and America’s are increasingly at odds. The region is prospering because it’s becoming something that would have horrified the Founders: an imperial capital on the Potomac.

The establishment, Republican and Democrat, makes a good thing out of having the right connections, and neither is interested in reforming the rules of the game. They just like to change ends of the field every once in a while, as in football.

Both the Bowyer and Renn articles should be read in their entirety. And let me add a reference to my own book, Ending ‘Big SIS’ (The Special Interest State) and Renewing the American Republic. I grow more pessimistic by the day about the prospects for reforming the Special Interest State without serious political and economic upheaval.


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Author: "Ending 'Big SIS' (The Special Interest State) and Renewing the American Republic" (2012) [] and "Property Matters--How Property Rights Are Under Assault and Why You Should Care" (1997). Some former jobs: Assistant Director of Consumer Protection in FTC; member of the Program Analysis Staff of the US Bureau of the Budget; Research Director of the Administrative Conference of the United States; Director of IPCentral at the Progress & Freedom Foundation; VP & GC of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest. Graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, former Book Review Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

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