No matter. Will is dead wrong anyway. Of course there’s a GOP establishment and he’s Exhibit A. The existence of the Republican Party as a political entity demands there be some kind of establishment from which leaders are chosen, favors dispensed, and conduits created so that ideas can be channeled into the most productive venues and nurtured and incorporated. And the nature of political society demands that there be a conservative establishment also for much the same reasons. Whether one listens to or obeys establishment figures is another story, but whether you wish to marginalize them or ignore them, you can’t destroy them. Knock one off, another will take their place. The establishment is dead. Long live the establishment…
The prospect of denim-wearing, dirty-fingernail, rank-and-file activists actually having an impact on the nominating process for the GOP presidential candidate has the establishment wringing their hands and scrambling to find another candidate more in line with their idea of governance. Take their money? Sure. Direct their energies into volunteer efforts for candidates? Absolutely.
But let them decide who should represent them as a candidate for president? Perish the thought.
Politics will have its way with them. If they nominate someone unacceptable to the establishment but who wins anyway, their wisdom will have been proven correct and their influence will grow. On the other hand, if a Tea Party-supported candidate gets clobbered, they will be taken down a few pegs and, as happened in 1968 following the Goldwater drubbing, a more establishment-oriented candidate will probably emerge next time around. In politics, nothing succeeds like success and the push-pull between Tea Party and establishment will work its way out at the ballot box.