This is the second part of my series on the subject. Part 1 dealt with the characteristics of the Establishment. Part 2 looks at the Outsiders.
At the heart, the Outsider disagrees with an Establishment decision (or apparent decision) about how or where to spend political capital. Be it a candidate choice, policy decision, or internal rule, the Outsider has decided the issue is important enough, and the Establishment’s position so egregious, that it must be changed. Normally, in the GOP, Outsiders are to the Establishment’s right, but this is not always so (McCain, 2000). The issue or issues at hand are not necessarily consistent either. The characteristics, however, are very consistent.
A preference for dynamism: It should come as no surprise that Outsiders are more accepting of change, but generally it goes deeper than that. Essentially, the Outsider is more than willing to break some eggs to make the omelette. In fact, the eggs can, if the Outsider isn’t too careful, become more important than the omelette itself. Successful Outsiders don’t succumb to this, but they do appreciate change far more than the Establishment, and will even welcome unintended consequences that come with the change (for the successful ones, such consequences are at least anticipated and planned for).
A sense of urgency: Taking on the Establishment is hardly easy, so there will usually be a good reason, and typically, that reason is urgent. The Outsider sees himself or herself as the last line defense from the horrific effects of the Establishment’s mistake. As such, the long view is dramatically shortened.
Finally, an aversion to Establishment language or arguments: At first this sounds obvious, but it goes deeper than the issue of disagreement. The more the Establishment tries to defend its point of view, the more Outsiders tend to think the Establishment’s methods are as bad as the erroneous decision. I noticed his when I tried to explain why I felt Bob Marshall had a better chance of defeating Mark Warner than Jim Gilmore did. Of course, no Establishment Republican agreed, not even Marshall’s people (save the candidate himself) were willing to consider the argument. Because “electability” was usually an Establishment argument, it was ignored by most of the Outsiders as a distraction.
This shows the larger motivation of Outsiders: they care more about why a campaign is conducted, rather than how.
Because of this, Outsiders can be very helpful to the party. At the least, they can force the Establishment to defend their policy decisions in a more robust and well-thought-out manner. At best (for the Outsiders), they can force their views on the Establishment, or convince it of the error of its way.
Unless, of course, it becomes personal (from either side), in which case we’re stuck with the wisdom of David Mamet – scriptwriter for Hoffa – via the main character:
A real grievance can be resolved. Differences can be resolved. But an imaginary hurt? A slight? That motherf**ker’s gonna hate you ’til the day he dies.
Cross-posted to Bearing Drift