By Lynn Ashby 8 Feb. 2016
THE TV – “I am running against the Establishment.” “If elected, I shall take on the Establishment.” Can we stand one more? “This is an anti-establishment campaign.” No matter which party, gender, age or silly promise, all the presidential candidates are running against the Establishment. But who or what is this awful creature that seems to personify evil? Many of you — OK, maybe someone was going to – have asked this question so, as your intrepid reporter, I set out to find this wart on the body politic.
My first stop was the campaign HQ of Sen. Bernie Sanders. “Senator, you have made a big deal out of running against the Establishment. So what, exactly is the Establishment?” He set fire to a stack of stock certificates and turned to me. “IT’S WHAT’S WRONG WITH AMERICA!” he shouted, waving his hands wildly in the air. I suggested, since I was standing three feet away from him, he didn’t have to shout. He nodded, and continued. “The Establishment are the billionaires, the Wall Street typhoons, the top one point one, one, one percent who own everything, and those members of Congress who have been there so long they’ve lost touch with middle-class America!” I replied that he had been in Congress 26 years. So how is he an outsider? “Because I represent the curmudgeon vote, and nobody likes a curmudgeon. Hey, you want a free college education?”
I found Donald Trump lunching at the New York Billionaires Club. He paused for a moment from shooting out the window at pedestrians on Fifth Avenue. “The Establishment is made up of the very rich, who tell everyone how rich they are. Their egos are huge! They never mention how their airlines went bankrupt, how their casinos in Atlantic City went under, or how they lost millions trying to buy the Plaza Hotel. They are arrogant, have weird hair and probably have been married at least three times.” I pointed out that it seemed Trump was describing himself. “You sound just like that ugly lightweight, Megan Kelly, the mouthpiece for the Establishment. Just look how she treats me in debates. She actually asks me questions. I don’t have to put up with that kind of insult. Now bring around my limo. It’s huge!”
My next stop was the senate office of Sen. Ted Cruz. I asked the secretary if I could see him. “Who? Cruz? It rings a bell. Hey, Gloria, do we have someone on the staff named Cruz? No? Sorry, Sir, but no one here is by that name.” I explained that he was the junior senator from Texas. She replied that there had been no junior senator from Texas since Tom DeLay was indicted. I showed her a picture of Cruz. “Oh, him. I thought he was a member of the Canadian Parliament. He drops by the Senate clerk’s office every now and then to collect his paycheck. Last we heard of him he was visiting Iowa or maybe South Carolina. Something to do with primates.”
It’s funny how “Establishment” has become a dirty word when it used to be a coveted term meaning long-standing, dependable. You know how businesses proudly proclaim their longevity. Brooks Brothers may hold the record: “Established 1818.” In Texas, we are sort of new at this. Any Houston building that gets a second coat of paint qualifies for a historical plague, so we see: “Established 2010.” Yet now the Establishment is the enemy of all decent candidates, as it represents the old guard, the entrenched status quo. Odd how meanings or acceptance of words change, as I was telling the gays, coloreds and Redskins.
My investigation led me to an all-night dinner on a country road outside Broken Nose, Nevada. A familiar face was working the counter – tall, white hair, big smile. “What can I do for you, prospective voter for the most experienced candidate for President?” I explained that I was looking for the Establishment. “You won’t find it here. My — that is, our — campaign is anti-Establishment. We are outsiders. Excuse me for a minute. Hey, Hillary, are those eggs with hash browns ready? Booth 16 is still undecided.”
Not only the candidates but their endorsers are railing against the Establishment, so I sought out Sarah Palin for a brilliant insight. “Golly gee,” she said while coloring inside the lines. “The Establishmenters are in the wrong side of hysterics, while the terrorists are polluting the growth rate. As the great George W. Bush said, ‘Fool me twice and you’ve fooled me more than once.’ Gotcha!” I sought out another important endorser, Phil Robertson, better known as the head of the Duck Dynasty clan, but he didn’t have a phone – or electricity or indoor plumbing, for that matter.
Palin’s mention of Bush immediately led me to the latest member of that family to hold office, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Unfortunately, he hadn’t been seen in his Austin office since Thanksgiving. “You might try his daddy’s campaign headquarters,” I was told. There, instead, I found Jeb! He stopped hanging chads, and said, “The Establishment is America’s enemy, and ours, too. It is made up of families who have formed a dynasty of officeholders. Fathers and sons, uncles and nephews, generation after generation, like the Santorums and the Kasiches. People are looking for fresh new faces like the Clintons and Bushes.
Moving on, I woke up Ben Carson and asked my question. “That’s Doctor Ben Carson,” he yawned. “I am so anti-Establishment that I am anti-government, anti-Congress and anti-experience. Who needs all that knowledge about forum relations, budgets and Yellowstone?” Then he nodded off. Carly Fiorina told me she was running against Washington to the extent, that, if elected, she planned to stay at Hewlett-Packard. “They love me there,” she said. I finally found Ted Cruz and asked if his secret dual citizenship with Canada until found out still allowed him to become President. He replied, “Oui.”
Ashby is established at firstname.lastname@example.org