In popular conception, the establishment functions like the mythic Chairman in the 2011 film “The Adjustment Bureau.” Shadowy agents execute The Plan put forth by The Chairman of The Adjustment Bureau, disrupting people’s lives and upsetting their desires and dreams. Adjustments here, adjustments there, so the Plan can unfold just as the establishment—The Adjustment Bureau—wishes. But as the protagonists discover at the end, sometimes the Chairman lets, even wants, us to make our own decisions, to write our own Plan. In fact, that might just be the point of The Plan after all.
The United States has no Adjustment Bureau. It is both the wonder and the worry of the American political system that, should we all go crazy, there are no shadowy establishment saboteurs to thwart our moment of insanity. Even if the establishment thinks we have lost our collective mind, we still control the nomination.
The candidates appear in our states, hosting town halls, meeting voters, and seeking to persuade. But we, at the grassroots level, make the final decision. If we find Trump compelling, as Florida did, or Cruz convincing, as Wisconsin did, we award them our delegates, while “the establishment” wrings its fretful hands. The same with the “establishment” in Congress. Someone keeps electing these people. Many someones, in fact. It’s tempting to believe they’re part of some mysterious cabal, but in the end they still have to get elected—and they do. We have ourselves, and our fellow voters, only to blame for that.