A conservative is most vulnerable to being recruited by the establishment after finding his or her political ceiling. It is then that a conservative realizes that something besides conviction is now needed in order to turn a political profit. The only thing a conservative possesses of value on the political market is his or her conservative reputation, and it is of value to the GOP establishment.
Establishment Republicans need a steady flow of conviction conservative recruits in order to have credibility in their claim to be conservatives themselves. Between the time the conservative sells out and the time when their reputation has fully spoiled, the establishment brandishes them as proof they are conservative, while a willing establishment media happily carries the message.
After all, conservative reputations are the one thing the Republican establishment needs but doesn’t traditionally produce in-house.
It is also at this point that a conviction conservative confronts his own motives. Did he or she really do this “public service” thing for the greater good? Or does a conviction conservative painfully learn that the truth of the prophet Jeremiah’s words about the deceitfulness of the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9)?
One thing the conviction conservative never knows until it is too late is just how different they are from the people they have joined, but the new crew knows this way in advance. After all, they’ve been lying the whole time and know it.
It is for this reason also that dreams of being respected and provided access by the new crew are of the saddest kinds of fantasy.
There is self-discovery in the time when conviction quits propelling one’s career. Was I a true believer, or an opportunist who, unlike the establishment guys, lacked the guts to admit it to myself?