The most important thing that can be said of hierarchies is that once established, their tendency is to hold on to power.
But the second most important thing to be said is that hierarchies are never eternal, never truly static, as there are always continually uprising currents of change either influencing the hierarchy to return to its roots or seeking to annihilate it altogether.
Sometimes established hierarchies don’t notice undercurrents of change soon enough to incorporate them into their established ways. Such seems to have been the case with the aristocracy of France before the Revolution, which though cognizant of and even catering to the Enlightenment and the radical new ideas of the intellectuals of the time, thought their status as arbiters of power would remain unchanged.
And, such seems to be the case within the Republican Party, albeit with some notable exceptions.
Within a mere year and a half, the Tea Party movement has shaken American politics to the foundations. However, some within the Party hierarchy still remain oblivious to or distinctly dismissive of the significance of the political revolution happening under their noses. They maintain a Louis the XVI posture of, “What? You say the Bastille has fallen and peasants with pitchforks are at the gates of the palace? Nonsense! Tell the guards to shoo them away.”
Too many within the established Republican hierarchy still expect matters will go on as usual, with elderly statesmen who’ve duly waited in line a lifetime for the opportunity to be nominated expecting their due anointment. But those who have been waiting in the wings may never get their cue to enter stage Left, never be that “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more,” much less fill their long expected central roles.
As Richard Land, a prominent leader within the powerful southern Baptist church has said, “We’re not going to do what we normally do, nominate the steady beau. As the grassroots Tea Party movement showed in state after state in the 2010 congressional elections, this is no longer a hierarchical party. And the field of contenders doesn’t overwhelm anyone. All the major candidates have significant problems.”
Land gets it.
Old hierarchical political models will no longer work. That’s because the rising revolutionaries have crashed the gates.
Certainly the new (actually, quite traditionally conservative) revolutionary principles have been brought to bear in Delaware, where Tea Party, conservative favorites overthrew establishment candidates. While the results were not, to state the obvious, what the conservative movement desired; nonetheless, the hierarchy cannot remain what it was, should not expect to maintain old ways. It has to change if it is to remain relevant. It has to move toward the new conservatism.
There are positive signs some respected Republican leaders in Delaware “get it.” For instance, the appearances of Pete DuPont and Charlie Copeland at the Tea Party rally last year at least indicate an acknowledgement of Tea Party power and principles.
But diehard “moderates” within the hierarchy continue to resist, expecting conservatives to continue their old patterns of behavior, believing conservatives will fall into line with their votes and money.
Resistance, however, will ultimately prove futile, as the burgeoning power of the conservative movement nationally and within the state continues to grow. “Moderates” must join the emerging revolution or permanently be left out in the cold.
All the above doesn’t mean the conservative upstarts should put the members of the old hierarchy into tumbrels headed off to the guillotine, but it does mean the momentum is with conservatives, not with the “moderates” who have dominated the party structure for so long. It means “moderates” will have to, well, “moderate” according to conservative principles if they are to remain relevant to the Party. To put it another way, the ancien regime run by “moderates is done for. It’s time for them to move with the new political currents or be left behind, consigned to near irrelevancy while holding on to an ever shrinking power base.
In the meantime, rising conservatives should use every power of persuasion to bring moderates into the conservative camp; not vice versa.
Conservatives also should extend olive branches whenever they can—but without compromising or abandoning principles as they have done so often in the past.