“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
— Eric Hoffer, The Temper of Our Time
Erick Erickson positively steams in this RedState article:
The problem for those who call themselves Republicans is that it is harder and harder to say exactly what a Republican is these days. The great lesson from Mississippi is that Republican means, more or less, that if elected the party will reward its major donors, who are just different than the Democrats’ major donors. Policy differences are about different donors, not an actual agenda to shift the country in a different direction.The Republicans have become the party of lobbyists, most of whom were on twitter celebrating their purchase.
[T]his becomes a longer term problem for the Republican Party. Its core activists hate its leadership more and more. But its leadership are dependent more and more on large check writers to keep their power. Those large check writers are further and further removed from the interests of both the base of the party and Main Street. So to keep power, the GOP focuses more and more on a smaller and smaller band of puppeteers to keep their marionettes upright. At some point there will be more people with knives out to cut the strings than there will be puppeteers with checkbooks. And at some point those people with knives become more intent on cutting the strings than taking the place of the marionettes.
The establishment plays for keeps. Their income is dependent on doing so.
Conservatism passed the “becomes a business” of Hoffer’s formulation some time ago — probably in the 1990s — and is now firmly in the “degenerates into a racket” phase.
Erickson is quite right: The Establishment’s interest in government is not chiefly ideological, just as a plumber’s interest in pipes is not chiefly ideological. The plumber’s interest in piping is chiefly about income, and so too the interest of the Establishment in government.
The difference between the two parties is the difference between Android and Apple phones. They’re both selling the same product — More Government Solutions! — they just have different branding. They just target different segments of the market with somewhat different aspirational pitches — Apple targets people who think owning Apple products makes them better and more complete people, and Android targets people who think Apple people are silly.
The exact mechanisms of the software and logic differs, but they both deliver the same service. Either way, you’re getting a phone, a camera, a videoplayer, and a map.
Apparently the parties have decided the great ideological struggle of our time is whether the new social services building shall be called the John Murtha Social Wellness Center or the Thad Cochran Freedom & Independence Pavilion.
This is inevitable. And the solution is as inevitable as well. The professional political class must be displaced in favor of an amateur political class, which — for its first several years, at least — will in fact be more interested in revolution than racket.
As I’ve written several times, amateurs have their own weaknesses. But this process of renewal — the replacement of old, complacent, self-interested spirits with fresh ones — is vital.
Without it, a movement dies.
When I was younger, I always thought political conventions were silly, with people wearing silly hats and mingling with falling balloons. The people at the Democratic National Convention looked exactly like the people at the Republican National Convention. And they all made the same silly boasts about the same silly states. (“The great state of Missouri, the Show-Me state, casts its ballots for…”)
They just seemed to be zealous sports fans of the silliest, nastiest, dirtiest, and dumbest, and boringest sport imaginable.
And so it was, largely. The Reagan Revolution substantially changed that — after Reagan, the two parties were no longer arguing about which of the two wings of the Dominant Social Class would get the management jobs of the same Expanding Welfare State — but only for a time.
Because what begins as a revolution becomes a business and ultimately degenerates into a racket.
This process will continue until the end of time. But we need a revolution, now. We can keep our eyes wide open about it, knowing that our revolution will, as it must, ultimately become a racket. By staying vigilant about that, perhaps we can delay that sad metamorphosis for a few years.
But we do need a revolution, now. Thad Cochran ran on Higher Government Spending, and the Establishment cheered him every inch of the way.
They’re not in this for the principle, but for the paycheck.
They must go.