News & Politics

Meet the New GOP Establishment -- Just Like the Old GOP Establishment

Delegates react as some call for a roll call vote on the adoption of the rules during first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

There is something almost comforting watching the New Establishment take control of the Republican Party. The faces may change, but the tactics remain the same.

As does the goal: maintain power and control over the plebes. To that end, all sorts of tomfoolery is countenanced, including anti-democratic tactics that stifle free speech and free choice.

The Old Establishment — the NeverTrumpers — had their heads handed to them today during the first hours of the Republican Convention in Cleveland. Even if you believe they deserve it, you’ve got to appreciate the irony of the New Establishment taking a page from the age-old book on exercising power ruthlessly — in similar fashion to the way the Old Establishment used to play the game with them.

My eyes glaze over trying to understand many convention rules.

But hidden deep in the rule on floor votes is a little noticed codicil that would have allowed a roll call vote on a “minority report” if a majority of delegates from 7 states signed a petition. The NeverTrumpers wanted a vote on a rules change that would have allowed delegates to “vote their conscience.” They had the signatures. They had the rules on their side.

What happened next was the first flexing of muscle by the New Establishment.


A group of anti-Trump delegates submitted signatures to try to force a vote on the rules of the convention — a procedure normally done quietly at the start of each convention.

The rules were adopted by voice vote shortly after 4 p.m., then after frantic protests, a second voice vote was taken as Trump opponents shouted repeatedly for a roll call vote. The convention chairman then said there were not enough signatures to force the roll call.

The move was an attempt to allow Trump opponents a platform to argue against the presumptive nominee and the Republican National Committee, who have worked together to stamp down any move to somehow block the billionaire from winning the nomination.

The rules package maintains that delegates must remain bound to their particular candidate and cannot vote their “conscience,” which in theory could mean Trump doesn’t win on the first ballot.

It is unlikely the rules package would have been rejected in a roll call vote, but a Trump staffer said its war room anticipated it could receive roughly 600 votes — well short of the 1,237 votes needed — which would be a strong protest vote.

After the voice vote adopting the rules was successful, members of the Colorado delegation walked out in protest as they called for a roll call vote.

“Overwhelmingly the floor was flooded with people who are upset with the way the rules were handled, said Regina Thomson, Ted Cruz’s state director and Colorado delegate and executive director of Free the Delegates. “They want a roll call vote and apparently the leadership just steamrolled right through the fact that the whole place was calling for a roll call vote.”

Tell me that isn’t something the Old Establishment would have pulled when faced with a rebellion in its ranks.

Donald Trump will be the nominee of the Republican Party. He is asserting control by placing his own hand-picked people in key positions of power. The turnover is already well underway with the New Establishment pushing out the old. Even if Trump doesn’t win, the Republican Party will no longer be the party of the Bush or Dole. Win or lose the Senate, Majority Leader McConnell is on his way out. Speaker Ryan may try to survive, but does anyone give odds better than 50-50 for that?

The New Establishment will keep the Old Establishment around for a while as a whipping boy. They will continue to pretend they are the insurgents when they have supplanted the Old Establishment because that’s how they like to see themselves.

But reality dictates otherwise. In hierarchical organizations, there is always a small cadre who exert control and exercise power. Trump and his supporters have now assumed their positions in the hierarchy and will act accordingly. And if that means stomping out opposition with ruthless precision, so be it.

The Establishment is dead. Long live the Establishment.