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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Alexander: Who Are the 'Establishment Republicans'?

Rancorous political contests are nothing new. George Washington was elected without opposition in 1789 and 1793. But in the first contested presidential campaign in 1796, when Washington’s VP John Adams faced Thomas Jefferson, there was vitriolic debate and acrimony between the candidates.

So it has been for most of the last 220 years in presidential politics. Notably, one of those elections, that of our 16th president Abraham Lincoln, was so contentious it literally divided the nation in 1860 and led to the bloody War Between the States.

But the current GOP primary season is a case study in how anger and despair lead to confusion and delusion, which has resulted in enormous division within a political party, before getting to the general election.

I profiled the GOP primary breakdown last July in a column on the “Obama Effect” and its impact on the current election cycle. Over the last seven years, Barack Hussein Obama has taken the Democratic Party so far left that an avowed Socialist is now a serious contender against the Democrats' “establishment candidate,” Hillary Clinton.

For the record, Clinton clearly fits the “establishment” definition for her party, but on the GOP side, there is a lot of division that begins with the fundamental adulteration of the definition of “establishment” as it pertains to Republicans.

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump told a group of his supporters: “Seven months ago before I decided to run, I was part of the establishment. But now I’m not part of the establishment.” Just like seven months ago he was a Democrat but now he’s not a Democrat.

So just what does this word “establishment” mean in the Republican political context?

Until six months ago, “establishment Republican” was synonymous with “RINOs” (Republicans In Name Only), but those descriptive labels have lost virtually all meaning in the fog of this primary.

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