America’s conservative establishment is in panic mode as renegade billionaire Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican presidential race and thumb his nose at the GOP donor class, which is alarmed that all its money might not dictate the outcome this time, as Bill Moyers and Michael Winship write.
By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
David Brooks is a worried man. Like many establishment Republicans, the conservative columnist for The New York Times sees the barbarians pouring through the gates and fears for both his party and the republic. Hail, Trump! Hail, Cruz! It’s enough to send a sober centrist dashing through the Forum in search of a cudgel.
There was Brooks on a recent edition of the PBS NewsHour, his angst spilling out across the airwaves like fog from a nightmare: “I wish we had gray men in suits,” he told Judy Woodruff, conjuring in some nostalgia-minded the courtly cabal of well-heeled businessmen who drafted war hero Dwight D. Eisenhower to run for president as a Republican.
“We don’t have that,” Brooks continued. “But the donor class could do something.”
Ah, yes. The donor class! Those deep pockets flung open even wider by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision just six years ago, permitting the richest of the rich to pour even more of their fortunes into control of our electoral process. Brooks was saying openly what many of them are thinking privately: Only we can save the party from the megalomania of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and protect our precious status quo.
How best to do this? Brooks suggested that panicked “state legislators who are Republicans, congressmen, senators, local committeemen” should join with the donors “so they don’t send the party into suicide.”
Makes sense – many of those very same folks already are deep in hock to the donors, their contributions often laundered via entities with high-falutin’ names — ALEC, for one, the American Legislative Exchange Council that lends a helping corporate hand to legislators eager to write favorable laws, provide tax breaks, dismember public employee unions and privatize government…