Tilting at Windmills
There is this interesting notion of fighting “the establishment”. It is like all of the sudden, somebody discovered that there are people actually in charge of organizations. And, remarkably, they have rules about how their organizations work. And, if you disagree, they might not like you and oppose you. That is fairly normal. In a collective sense, it is how things work.
So what has “the establishment” done lately?
Obama’s two victories were painful setbacks, but in the Obama era the Democrats lost 13 U.S. Senate seats, 69 House seats, 913 legislative seats, 11 governorships and 30 legislative chambers. All that stood between Republicans and real reform at the federal level was the White House — and the Democrats were sleepwalking toward nominating the least popular major player in American politics.
Most of us belong to some organization and have agreed to the rules of how it works. We may be leaders or members of the establishment of that group. Somebody else probably doesn’t agree with us. They are a part of another organization. Collectively, that is how things get done. It is rare that an individual, who is not part of any organization, gets anything done. Think about it.
Many organizations have many layers to the them. The GOP has the National organization. Each state has their own organization. There are multiple layers then to how they interact. Is there really a conspiracy among 51 separate Republican organizations? I don’t think so. [Note: If you want to read a great example of conspiracy theory at its finest, consider the recent article, “The Sea Island Conspiracy” by Pat Buchanan.]
The conspiracy theory seems to me that it is like tilting at windmills. We want to see enemies out of ordinary items. Windmills are not giants to be slain. Windmills are in fact windmills. Individuals who see windmills as giants have a very special place in psychiatric classifications.
There is a place for reform. When we see a better way of doing things, we should champion the better way. You can in fact build a better windmill. You can build something so much better that windmills become obsolete. Seeing a windmill as ineffective is different than seeing it as a giant to be slain.
The Republican Party has become more reform-minded and more conservative over the past 30 years. The Arlen Specters and Bob Packwoods are pretty much gone. In their places are dynamic, smart, articulate leaders such as Tom Cotton, Ben Sasse, Cory Gardner, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz, Susana Martinez and Marco Rubio. The party has become more conservative and more ethnically diverse.
Between 2008 and 2014, when Republicans were the minority in the Senate, they blocked cap and trade, the “public option” in Obamacare and card check. Republicans declined to give President Obama universal pre-K, the “Paycheck Fairness Act,” expanded unemployment benefits, a higher federal minimum wage, varieties of gun control, mandatory paid sick leave, a tax on multinational corporations, higher taxes on individuals and more. They passed bills authorizing the Keystone pipeline (which was vetoed) and trade promotion authority (the one issue Obama is not wrong about). They endorsed entitlement reform.
Building a better windmill that in fact does work. If it doesn’t work, in the free market of ideas, that tells us something.
Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”
“What giants?” asked Sancho Panza.
“Those you see over there,” replied his master, “with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length.”
“Take care, sir,” cried Sancho. “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”
Source: Part 1, Chapter VIII. Of the valourous Don Quixote’s success in the dreadful and never before imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with other events worthy of happy record.