Here is the beginning of a 3-parts series on The Establishment. Why this series? There is much talk about the Republican Establishment’s presidential candidate.  Unfortunately, in spite of all that talk, we have heard relatively little discussion about the nature of The Establishment. Thus, the meaning of that expression, The Establishment, remains vague and clouded.

Defining “The Establishment”

The definition of the term “establishment” is easy enough.


3. the persons (or committees or departments etc.) who make up a governing body and who administer something; “he claims that the present administration is corrupt”; “the governance of an association is responsible to its members”; “he quickly became recognized as a member of the establishment”

Therefore, when we speak of The Establishment, we sort of know what we are talking about. So what is the problem? The definition does not address why or who.

  • Why does The Establishment exist? To be a part of some group, we must share a common interest. Without that shared interest, we have little motivation to work with the members of that group. In fact, if we are ambitious, we will almost certainly have objectives that put us at crossed purposes with other group members. Therefore, that shared interest must be dominant.
  • How do we decide who is part of The Establishment? By definition, a member of The Establishment is part of the governing body. That is, Establishment members have significant power, but power only satisfies a prerequisite. To be a member of America’s large and amorphous Establishment, members must exercise their power on behalf of The Establishment.

So what is the primary aim of The Establishment? In What The Republican “Establishment” Really Means, Dan McLaughlin explains his theory.

The answer is a simple one: it’s almost entirely about spending. The current trajectory of American government spending is one in which spending by government in general, and by the federal government in particular, just keeps on growing as a share of the economy, further and further crowding out the space occupied by free private citizens and businesses in the private sector. Worse, much of this happens automatically, without the consent of the governed in any but the most perfunctory way: discretionary spending is designed to grow because budgets are set by using the prior year’s spending as a baseline, and entitlement and public employee benefit spending – which consume a far larger share of spending – grows by itself in the absence of any affirmative legislation to stop it. (from here)

Rush Limbaugh concurs.

What is, who is (and don’t give me a name) the Republican establishment? What is it about them that makes them the establishment? (interruption) They run Republican thought in…? No. It’s far more specific than that. The Republican establishment wants spending. They want active government; they want to be in charge of it. They’ll tinker with it on the margins, but they want to be inside the entire power structure. They don’t want to be at odds with the power structure in New York, in Washington, in the whole Northeastern Corridor. They want to be part of it, and they’re happy being a minority part of it as long as they’re close to power. As long as they have the respect of the people who run the overall large government. (from here)

Does government spending define The Establishment? I think the answer to that question is both yes and no. Yes, The Establishment does oppose controls on reckless spending. No, it is not just about spending. What The Establishment wants is power. Control over government spending just one aspect of what it means to exercise power.

Consider why The Establishment defends the status quo. Because they gained and now retain power within the existing state of things, the status quo, The Establishment  — the people who govern our nation — tend to oppose any changes which would reduce their power.

When a People understands the weaknesses of their leaders, they hand power over to them with great reluctance, demanding proof of the need. Moreover, they require that those they entrust with public office serve honorably. When a People becomes naive about human nature and how their government functions, the People put rascals in charge. These rascals become The Establishment. Thus, they corrupt The Establishment.

Under the leadership of rascals, government no longer serves to protect the Rights of the People. As members of The Establishment, rascals do not seek the public good. As that gang we call The Establishment, rascals seek personal power and personal prerogatives.

Therefore, we have the current situation. Even though government spending is now wildly out of control, The Establishment still opposes any changes which might allow us to bring spending under control.

With rascals in charge, these characteristics define The Establishment.

  • Establishment leaders define and execute their official duties principally by exercising “control” over prolific government spending such as welfare and entitlement programs. Our nation’s Founders created the Federal Government to protect our Rights, and they envisioned the Federal Government as a means of national defense, a tool for cooperation between state governments. The Founders did not anticipate a national welfare state or massive entitlement programs. Nonetheless, such programs now absorb most of our nation’s spending
  • Establishment leaders oppose or table any changes in Law which would effectively reduce the growth of government spending and power.
  • Establishment leaders define progress as growing government.
  • When confronted with a “problem,” Establishment leaders propose new government programs and increased government power as their preferred solution.

Note something important. In many respects, the Republican Establishment and the Democratic Establishment is one and the same. The difference appears to be this. Whereas much the Republican Party either opposes or is relatively satisfied with status quo, members of the Democratic Party openly seek to increase their power.

So why do we focus on spending? Government spending is visible and relatively easy to quantify. That’s why exploding deficits engendered the Tea Party movement, but we must study the problem further. We must understand what makes The Establishment so irrational. The Establishment does not fight just to spend our money. The Establishment strives for ever greater power. We fight pride-filled men and women who would play as gods with our souls. As smug, self-righteous, pompous busybodies, they would dominate and rule over every moment of every day of our lives.

Continued in two parts:


  1. I can’t say I fully understood everything I just read (not your fault-you wrote about it plainly) but I get a sense that there is no way out of this establishment rule unless we go for a third party? Its such a game of strategy, and I guess it always has been since the third election race of our nation, that I can’t see anyone willing to go third party. What to do, what to do…

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