Over the last election season, we’ve heard a lot of talk about “the establishment.” The word conjures images of cabals of corrupt men making underhanded deals in seedy, smoke-filled rooms, and maybe that’s not too far from reality.
In a more serious sense, more often than not the “establishment” describes the dominant party or group currently dictating our state of affairs, be they political or social. Their influence is limitless, and they’re omnipresent in society, even if it isn’t always obvious.
The “establishment” describes the dominant party or group currently dictating our state of affairs.
The establishment hasn’t always looked the same, and it’s important to recognize that. Though there are factors that can affect its amount of influence (usually money), the establishment effectively reflects the different agendas that those in power are bent on implementing.
For some time now, there’s been much criticism over the conservative establishment. But through the events of the past year, it’s evident that these anti-establishment paradigms have essentially become what they once condemned.
How We Recognize the Current Establishment
The existence of an establishment essentially necessitates the existence of an anti-establishment.
We tend to romanticize the anti-establishment, often seen as the oppressed and the downtrodden. These are the poor and the disenfranchised upon whom the elitist powers at work build and maintain their influence.
We tend to romanticize the anti-establishment, often seen as the oppressed and the downtrodden.
The progressives in this country have seamlessly and effortlessly fallen into this anti-establishment characterization. Their paradigm thrives on the power of the people and the abilities of civil disobedience to rise up and effect change. Their rallying cry has always been one which is against elitism and the bourgeoisie; they’re united together despite race, socioeconomic level, sexual orientation or gender, etc. Up until now, at least in their eyes, the establishment has been made up of old, rich white men whose sole purpose is to disenfranchise poor minorities.
This model was exceedingly popular in the 2016 election. Rep. Jeb Bush was accused of being part of the establishment, an allegation meant to wound his campaign which he nevertheless accepted. More often than not, the establishment has become synonymous with conservatives or the Republican Party, making the anti-establishment the preferred label of progressives. In that same election, candidates like Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich were more likely to be seen as establishment candidates, while Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders was seen as the candidate of the people and the common man. While that might have been the case in 2016, is it still the same way now?
Anti-Capitalism That Promotes Capitalism
If we take the anti-establishment narrative simply at face value and for how it presents itself, we see a movement of progressive groups aimed at fighting conservatism and the dangers its elected officials pose to their agenda. But if we look closer into the rhetoric of what’s been labeled as the anti-establishment, questions inevitably come up.
One of the core tenets of the progressives is the dangers of capitalism, and how it disenfranchises those with lower incomes and creates a system of inequality, among other things.
This narrative is quick to point out how much the CEO of a corporation makes compared to that of a minimum wage worker, and even more than that, to criticize monoliths like Amazon and Walmart which dominate our local economies and wipe out small businesses.
At least, they did wipe out small businesses during COVID due to the progressive policies of Democratic leadership who insisted on implementing restrictive lockdowns despite no evidence of their efficacy. The anti-establishment has always been quick to criticize capitalism, but they single-handedly drove consumers to do business with huge corporations and then continued to reprimand them for doing so, even as small businesses throughout the country close permanently.
Anti-Authoritarianism That Promotes Authoritarianism
Additionally, the anti-establishment claims to distinguish itself from the establishment in its defiance of authoritarianism.
This was accomplished during the previous administration inasmuch as Donald Trump and his constituents were branded fascists. Meanwhile, left-leaning technocrats censor and monitor accounts and opinions they don’t agree with and silence any opposing argument in doing so.
But it does seem strangely contradictory to align yourself with freedom and liberty in the pursuit of fighting fascism while electing candidates who have time and time again proved themselves against each of those ideals.
Kamala Harris has a storied history of what can only be described as authoritarianism.
Antifa, for example, has repeatedly escaped criticism or acknowledgment from progressives for the destruction and violence they’ve caused, yet they claim to be fighting for equality and equity...while burning cities, causing irreparable damage to communities, and being allowed to continue to operate.
It’s staggering to think that Kamala Harris has a storied history of what can only be described as authoritarianism, and to a disturbing degree. Her past policies as attorney general and her relationship with criminal justice amount to, for all intents and purposes, a heavy-handed approach which you would think would motivate so-called anti-fascist voters to look elsewhere. But they didn’t, and now she’s Vice President. It’s the same story with other elected officials. Looking at specific states, totalitarian overtones are by and large evident in the draconian measures which have been taken to supposedly fight COVID-19.
It’s intriguing to think that a movement that brands itself a certain way has now come to essentially embody that which it previously denigrated and disparaged.
So is the anti-establishment’s natural progression. The movement which touted itself as the underdog has now ascended into the presidency, as well as the House and the Senate, and can no longer accurately claim to be in a position of oppression.
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