Yes, the establishment wants you to go away. Are you going to obey?
With a little help from The Atlantic and New York Times (of all places), we can put together a strategy to recognize and deflect the establishment’s tactics.
Put this in your back pocket. You’ll need it before primary season is over.
Establishment Tactic 1: Never admit membership in the establishment
How To Handle: Never argue about what he establishment is. Instead, demand super-specific policies that the establishment would hate. “Then you must oppose TARP and Stimulus. Could I get a quote from you for my blog?”
Establishment Tactic 2: Kill the Tea Party with kindness
How To Handle: Whenever someone praises you, thank them. But if you suspect an ulterior motive, there probably is. Again, demand specificity: “What would your legislation to unwind Social Security look like?”
Establishment Tactic 3: Push Candidates to the Left
How to Handle: You’ve heard it before—run to the base in the primary and to the middle in the general. I’m not a fan of strict pledges that opponents can use to bludgeon a candidate. But letting the Billy Longs of the world lie their way to Washington to turn left is no way to save the republic.
Hold out the third party threat. Hand wobbly nominees a pair of flip-flops at a meet-and-greet. They’ll get the message.
Establishment Tactic 4: Make compromise a moral imperative
How to Handle: A conservative once lamented that if the Democrats sponsored legislation to burn the capitol to the ground, Republicans would offer an amendment to phase the fire in over three weeks.
To combat this tactic, point out the folly of the idea. If you’re in debt up to your eyeballs, borrowing half as much as you’d like to doesn’t make you better off. Sometimes, reversal, not compromise, is the right thing.
Establishment Tactic 5: Take the GOP ball and go home
As I pointed out in a previous post, the establishment is more prone than activists to defect when it doesn’t get its way. Let them. When Republicans say “it’s our party, not yours,” smile and nod. Then run for low-level party position. Get your friends to do the same. Show up at township and central committee meetings. Reagan’s forces took over the GOP in short order. Tea Partiers can too.
Bonus Point: Don’t Become the Establishment
Actually, you can’t really avoid that. But remember—new insurgents are born every day. Someday you’ll be viewed at the powerful interest seeking to exclude the stamp-licking rabble. Be careful how you use your power and influence.
You might have even better ideas. Please add them to the comments below.