The establishment isn’t what it used to be, and neither is the anti-establishment.
Readers of a certain age will recall an era when the establishment was widely understood to be the squares. The establishment was why you couldn’t smoke dope in class or say dirty words on television, and why you had to get married and work for a living. The anti-establishment was easily recognized by its long hair, tie-dyed apparel, and screeching guitar music.
Now the anti-establishment is former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and all the hard-working married people who support his presidential campaign, which raises the question of who is the establishment.
Gingrich supporters are quite right to think that they’re not the establishment, square though they may be. At some point since the baby boom a new establishment was established, and while it hasn’t yet achieved classroom dope smoking there are dirty words aplenty on the television, there is no longer any societal pressure to marry, working for a living is increasingly optional, and all manner of mores have changed in ways that are not to the liking of a Gingrich supporter. The folks found at “Occupy” protests share the same tonsorial, sartorial and musical tastes of an earlier anti-establishment generation, but they’re protesting on behalf of the same establishment that a Gingrich supporter rails against.
The Gingrich supporters believe they’re also standing in opposition to a Republican establishment, however, and in that case it’s less clear who they’re talking about. If they mean the Republicans who have held office or worked in other capacities in Washington, D.C., their own candidate is a longtime congressman, former Speaker of the House, and has had many dealings with the federal government. If they mean Republicans who sometimes stray from conservative orthodoxy, their own candidate has committed heresies on such important issues as health care reform, global warming and Medicare reform. If they mean anyone who offers criticisms of their candidate, the establishment would include such stalwart conservatives and anti-establishmentarians as Andrew Brietbart, Ann Coulter and Matt Drudge.
— Bud Norman