I signed the “Never Trump” petition. Despite his entertainment value, Donald Trump is an unprincipled opportunist, in my opinion. He certainly is not qualified for president in any sense of that term. He’s not the kind of person I want my grandchildren to admire or mimic. Trump is simply not a rational candidate if you’re a conservative and, frankly, I don’t know how rational people claim to support him.
For those reasons, and more, I guess I am now a part of the Establishment. I hear how the Establishment doesn’t want Trump to be president because the Establishment would lose its power. In other words, the defense of Trump against the Establishment is that the latter opposes the former not because of any fundamental policy disagreements but because the Establishment seeks to maintain power that grants them access to plunder – and, incredibly, Trump is supposedly the savior who would stop all the plunder.
Before I talk more about the Establishment, let me clarify my views about Trump. I oppose candidate Trump because I have no idea what he stands for. Even when I thought I knew where he stood, on the very few issues about which he actually is specific, like immigration, all of the sudden he becomes “flexible.” I just don’t trust him. He doesn’t sound right to me. He doesn’t feel right to me. And, as Governor Romney stated recently, he lacks presidential temperament. There is a big difference between demagoguing people into following you and leading people because you’ve identified the true sources (and real solutions) of their unrest. I simply don’t relate to Trump.
So evidently, as I said, that makes me an Establishment person – a lackey for the cronies and plunderers. But, of course, I beg to differ.
When Newt Gingrich and his Republican colleagues finally controlled the House of Representatives in 1994, after 63 years of Democratic majorities, my conservative colleagues and I were elated. Finally, we would see some change in Washington. I and other conservative chiefs of staff immediately coalesced to help drive a new conservative agenda in Congress. We organized our bosses into what now has become the House Freedom Caucus. We were determined not to let this opportunity pass America by.
The first 100 days felt glorious. The Contract with America was passed by Congress. But Bill Clinton was in the White House. Our Contract with America wasn’t his and soon our fearless leader Newt Gingrich was in a deadlock with Clinton. Long story short, Newt flinched and the Gingrich Revolution fell apart. Yes, we were able to pass welfare reform and, as candidate Kasich reminds us ad nauseam, federal budgets were balanced for several years. But those were accomplished on Clinton’s terms, not ours.
When conservatives complained to Newt about not fighting back, Newt’s response was always “We’re in the majority. Conservatives need to learn how to govern. We need to stop acting like the minority and become the adults in the room.” Well, all I heard was roll over and play dead. Conservatives were furious. We didn’t fight to govern only to relinquish governing at the least resistance. I am sure supporters of Mr. Trump feel the same way today, except 19 trillion times more so.
Newt became the Establishment. And here is something Trump’s supporters don’t want to hear – Donald Trump will become the Establishment too if elected. Honestly, he already is and his supporters would realize that if they weren’t so justifiably angry with the federal government. Newt was right. Majorities need to govern – which, in my book, means majorities need to be prudent about the general welfare and the common good of all of society as much as they focus on adhering to whatever ideas carried them into the majority.
If that broader picture of governing makes me a part of the Establishment, so be it. I get why people are angry, but at some point leaders have to think clearly. Anger can’t cloud their thoughts. And, frankly, I’m tired of the rancor. I’m tired of ideologues and their ideologies. I refuse to defend them any more. Nor will I defend just any leader simply because they happen to agree with me on some issue. I need more now – principled leaders are essential but they also must be prudent, they also must be intelligent, they also must be of kind temperament (they need to see all “the people” not just the ones who agree with them), and they also must be experienced in the understanding of true freedom and the art of humanity.
Okay, so now I’m the Establishment. But in this sense, so too were Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin in their day.