A Proud Member of the Establishment

The establishment is much-maligned these days. It seems the way to get elected is to run against the establishment — blame the establishment for all the ills of humankind.

There are three anti-establishment factions: The far-right Ted Cruz faction. The far-left Bernie Sanders faction. And the whatever-it-is Donald Trump faction (even though he has been part of the East Coast establishment his entire life). They don’t agree on much except one thing: the repulsive establishment is responsible for the angst and anger we feel, and we need to throw the bums out.

Cruz, Sanders and Trump are campaigning hard against the establishment. Even Hillary Clinton, a total creature of the establishment, attempts to hit anti-establishment themes.

So who is this evil establishment? I suppose I just have to look in the mirror and there is it, its ugly face staring back at me.

Yes, I admit it. I’m the establishment. If anyone wants to define the evil, pitiful establishment, it’s me.

After all, I’m old, male, white, reasonably happy with my life, and not particularly angry. I’ve worked in the dreadful traditional media, spent time working for a mainstream governor, and still dabble in mainstream politics. I’m certainly not wealthy, but thanks to a lifetime of really hard work, I’m reasonably secure financially. Politically, I’m a mainstream conservative and generally support mainstream candidates.

Could anyone be more establishment than me? The establishment-loathers should put my face on a banner that says, “This is what we hate!”

However, if most people are anti-establishment, doesn’t that make them the new establishment? And doesn’t that make me anti-anti-establishment?

Gosh, I’m feeling rather revolutionary.

But I digress.

I’ll be the first to admit that the Washington establishment hasn’t done so well. Its inability to solve the nation’s biggest problems is enormously frustrating. Deficit spending, out-of-control entitlements and national security concerns threaten the future of our children and grandchildren.

But Washington isn’t my establishment model. My model is Utah, where the establishment has done pretty darn well. In Utah we balance our budgets, promptly address the state’s problems, provide a safety net for the less fortunate., foster a climate where business can flourish — the result being a solid economy, good jobs and optimistic people.

That’s the establishment I appreciate. In Utah, the establishment means solid, steady leadership going back decades, to Cal Rampton, Scott Matheson, Norm Bangerter, Mike Leavitt, Olene Walker, Jon Huntsman and Gary Herbert. All of those governors were or are pretty darn establishment. The Utah establishment has meant civic-minded state legislators who tackle the state’s problems with efficiency and hard work. It means the public sector, businesses and non-profits working collaboratively. 

Utah obviously still has a lot of challenges. We’re by no means perfect. But the Utah establishment does a pretty good job. The truth is, no government at any level will ever take us to nirvana. The most government can do is create a climate where good people can make something of their lives, with their families and neighbors.

So I hate to break it to you anti-establishment types, but there is no political savior. There is no silver bullet to solve the nation’s problems. Based on the history across the world, when an authoritarian, charismatic political savior is elected, it usually doesn’t end well. 

I don’t believe simplistic answers exist to solve the momentous problems that beset us. It will take a lot of hard work, discipline, a lot of time, and a lot of educating citizens that everyone will need to sacrifice. That isn’t the work of a pop culture celebrity or a left-wing or right-wing ideologue.

Sounds like a task the establishment will need to take on.