Opinion

Kamioner: Everybody Is In The Establishment

It's only a matter of different establishments.

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It’s become fashionable these days, and perhaps continually since the 1960s, to pan “the establishment.” Then, the New Left used it as a pejorative to trash adult traditional leadership. Today, the Populist Right uses it as, well, a pejorative to trash adult traditional leadership.

But regardless who is throwing around the term, many times in comparison to “the people”, the canard rings hollow because everybody who is politically active falls into and under one establishment or another.

There are those populists who believe the Republican establishment stands in direct opposition to the people and that the true heart of the nation’s ideals lay in the “We the People” principles of the Founders who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But who were the men who wrote those documents? Were they salt of earth average working stiffs who looked to the downhome wisdom of the people for inspiration? Hardly.

They were establishment aristocratic gentlemen farmers and merchants steeped in the classics and the notions of the Enlightenment. Their idea of “the people” were the rich families they socialized with. Thus the American revolution was merely a secession from Great Britain, as real revolutions, like the unfortunate one in France, overturn social orders. Our revolution threw out government run by titled establishment gentlemen and wealthy merchants from London and substituted it with their social, cultural, and economic peers on this side of the Atlantic. For which, we should be eternally grateful.

The belief that there are those in politics who by their actions and attitudes are not part of an establishment is similarly not supported by common sense and political reality. Every political movement from MAGA to the Sanderistas has an internal bureaucratic component. It’s not an idealistic and spontaneous “Hey kids, let’s put on a show!” The rallies, paid media, marketing items, labor costs, logistics, etc are all paid for and planned by establishment professionals of their respective parties and ideologies. These pros often work both sides of the aisle in successive races and owe loyalties, regardless of what they say for public consumption, to the shadow players who write their paychecks. These establishment gunslingers are squires to the ruling class and aspire to join their ranks. They disdain the concept of “the people” so beloved by the populists.

In fact, the only contact these pros have with the people is through polling results. They are as establishment as you come and they direct every major political effort. Not to mention, both in politics and government (they are different things), this establishment has institutional knowledge and memory that enables it to make decisions based on empirical evidence, not on the slobbering passions of the moment.

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So if some politically active people must comfort themselves that they stand in opposition to the concept of the establishment, theirs or anybody else’s, fine. Who are we to interrupt their delusions? But those of us who prefer adult thinking comprehend that no one has, or will ever, genuinely speak for “the people” as the populists define the term. Why?Because the people are too diffuse and preoccupied with quotidian concerns to make it politically expedient. Those who claim to be these tribunes of the people are charlatans taking advantage of the gullibility of the unenlightened. Which means, they will usually be highly successful.

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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