Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cantor, Capped

Actually, it's not fair to say that incumbent Congressman Eric Cantor got "capped" in Tuesday's GOP primary. That word does a disservice to David Brat; to Brat's voters; and to Brat's even more numerous supporters.

To say someone got "capped" implies that he was doing the equivalent of standing on a sidewalk minding his own business, only to get gunned down by a bunch of thugs who wanted to murder him for no other reason than to show the 'hood that they own the street, not him...However, Cantor was not so innocent. Those who voted him out of office certainly wanted to show that they own the seat of Virginia's 7th Congressional District, not him -- and that he must do their bidding since he works for them, not the other way around -- but that is where the rhetorical similarities end.

Yes, Cantor's defeat had a lot to do with the well-founded belief that he is not serious about supporting equality in immigration, nor is he serious about protecting the overall integrity of immigration or the sanctity of U.S. citizenship, but it is false to say his views on those things (which the media deceptively refer to simply as "immigration") were the reason he lost.

Generally speaking, the Republican Party is the more conservative and Democratic Party the more liberal of our two big parties. And generally speaking, conservatives distrust government holistically, no matter who is "in charge" of it at a given time, while liberals trust it holistically even if their dislike of conservatism leads them to act venomous when criticizing conservative government officials. This creates a situation in which conservatives are much more likely to look at Republican officeholders with jaundiced eyes than liberals will ever be to look at Democrat officeholders with jaundiced eyes.

When it comes to Eric Cantor, he was already suspected of having gone native after spending so long in DC, of having abandoned the core principles that got him elected in the first place. Then his inconsistent remarks about  topics defined by the media as "immigration" only fed the fire and made his constituents even more leery about trusting him.

If his constituents had stopped trusting him only on "immigration," Cantor might well have won on Tuesday. After all, Marco Rubio remains popular with the conservative base despite deviating widely from it on the issue of "immigration." However, the idea that Cantor has gone native and become comfy with the notion of Master Government Over Servile Citizenry spilled over to other issues.

Brat successfully illustrated how Cantor seems okay with federal dictates on questionable education whims (such as Common Core, which is currently facing a grassroots, parents-led backlash)...and how he seems okay with "crony capitalism," which is the precise opposite of authentic, Reaganite capitalism...and how he seems ambivalent about government spending and the resulting national debt.

As a result, Brat defeated Cantor despite 1) Cantor being blessed with all the normal incumbent advantages, and 2) having reportedly spent only one-third as much money as Cantor while raising only one-eighth as much.

I will leave it to others to quarrel over what, if anything, this says about the GOP's chances in November. What I do know is that Brat's dethroning of Cantor (which had to feel like a "capping" to Cantor and his supporters) is good in the final analysis. It is good because it reflects we the people setting the agenda rather than being subjected to it.

Until next time, au revoir!

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