I would first like to say I predicted David Brat’s victory over Eric Cantor three weeks ago. I would like to say it, but it would be a lie—no one saw it.
Before you blame one thing or another for the Cantor loss remember one of the golden rules of politics– all politics is local and a second big rule is one thing does not kill a campaign, it has to be many things.
It didn’t help that Cantor did everything he could to try and crush local Republican activists. Perhaps the biggest reason Dave Brat won is that Eric Cantor was no longer in touch with his district–in fact he didn’t want to be in his district. During the past few weeks as the race tightened Cantor threw all his money into TV commercial. Cantor who had an aura of arrogance should have been spending more of his time in “retail,’ meeting with the people-type politics.
Yesterday’s victory by a political unknown over the second most powerful Republican in the house sent a tsunami throughout party and congressional leadership and long term the political landscape has been changed in many ways we cannot predict. But here is why it happened.
The power of the Tea Party is exaggerated; the power of the Tea Party is underestimated. It appears the statement above is a paradox but it’s not intended to be. Ever since the Tea Party became a political power, depending on the race pundits have announced predicted immortality or death for the grass roots movement.
Already, talking heads are exaggerating the role of the Tea Party in Brat’s win. The truth is the major Tea Party groups were not very involved in this race. On the other hand the true Tea Party, the grass roots, localized movement pushed Brat to victory. The real national influence on this race was talk radio. Rush, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham and others made this victory possible.
he truth is this primary season will be a mixed bag for the Tea Party and establishment Republicans; Cantor is gone, it looks as if Thad Cochran will be out also, but McConnell and Lindsey Graham won their primaries by large margins.
Arrogance- Cantor tried his hand at progressive type arrogance. Eric Cantor was for the Dream Act, but not for comprehensive immigration. But he sent out mailers saying he was against all immigration reform–voters laughed at the hypocrisy. Cantor was so arrogant that when the Chamber of Congress sensed that the race was getting tight and offered help he said thanks but no thanks.
“Assholery” -The fact is Cantor’s staff is considered to be bullies by most of Virginia Republicans.
Dave Brat- Brat is not a “frothing crazy” reactionary conservative. In fact if you look at his platform it seems something out of the Republican establishment playbook:
- That the free enterprise system is the most productive supplier of human needs and economic justice,
- That all individuals are entitled to equal rights, justice, and opportunities and should assume their responsibilities as citizens in a free society,
- That fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all levels of government,
- That the Federal Government must preserve individual liberty by observing Constitutional limitations,
- That peace is best preserved through a strong national defense,
- That faith in God, as recognized by our Founding Fathers is essential to the moral fiber of the Nation.
Immigration- Immigration was an issue but not really in the way it’s being described. Brat made illegal immigration a crony capitalism/bread and butter issue. He convinced voters that Cantor supported amnesty because he wanted to give the US Chamber of Commerce what it wanted- cheap labor which would end up driving down salaries and drive up unemployment.
Democrats? Turnout was high, and according to some reports it was high in strong Democratic Party leaning precincts. However lets wait and see some of the polling before we say that Democrats crossing over and voting in the GOP primary caused Cantor to lose.
For political junkies the shock waves resulting from Dave Brat’s win last night will resonate for months, and its going to be very, very interesting. I suggest you get the extra large popcorn (with extra butter).