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Reblogged: Cantor Removes Self as a Problem

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Last night's flaying of Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a primary by his Tea Party challenger sounds much more like a defeat of Eric Cantor than a win for the Tea Party. Cantor, it seems, alienated both Republican activists and average constituents.

Apparently hoping to establish himself as some kind of Republican boss in Virginia, Cantor made initially successful attempts to take over his party's apparatus. These were eventually repelled -- but not before he and his operatives had alienated the more active members of his own party:

Starting this spring, Eric Cantor and his chief consultant Ray Allen, along with various other goons from his Young Guns network, invaded county and congressional district Republican conventions and manipulated the rules to slate off Republican activists to deliver congressional district chairmanships to his allies...

And, much later:

... Cantor's bullying across the state, his attempt to disenfranchise Republican activists (and not just tea partiers), outraged Republicans across the state.  The blogs, Facebook, and Twitter exploded in the last few months over these actions and it gave [challenger David] Brat at the very least statewide sympathy if not an army of potential volunteers who didn't need much motivation.  Cantor's district is dead center in the state and its [
] not that hard to get to...

This account goes on to note in passing that Cantor is "also notorious for not having very good constituent service". That's a bad sign for advocates of limited government since our goal is to disentangle the government from our daily lives, presumably making the elimination of the need for such "services" a goal.

Regarding these "services", another commenter notes:

Cantor's constituent services moved more toward focusing on running the Republican House majority than his congressional district. K Street, the den of Washington lobbyists, became his chief constituency. In Virginia a couple of months ago, several residents of Cantor's district groused that they were going to support Brat because they did not think Cantor was doing his job as a Virginia congressman. Others no longer trusted him.

In today's context of pressure-group warfare, this hardly sounds like the refutation of a big-government Republican. There is a fundamental difference between being afraid one's boy in Washington might not bring home a scrap of pork -- and wanting to be free to bring home some bacon.

Returning to the first commenter, it speaks volumes that:

Nobody would have given Dave Brat the time of day no matter what he attacked Cantor with if it weren't for this colossal mistake rooted in Cantor's vanity and dream to somehow become the Republican boss of Virginia...

The Tea Party may not be dead in terms of being able to secure electoral success, but it isn't exactly thriving in terms of generating electoral interest in limited government: Eric Cantor shouldn't have had to be such a poor candidate to have suffered a primary defeat. The fact that Cantor lost will have short-term repercussions, to be sure, but the manner of his defeat should be taken by advocates of limited government as a sign that much work remains if our cause is to ignite a true revolution.

I know practically nothing about David Brat, but an opportunity to advance the cause of limited government, or at least stymie greater government intrusion, has fallen his way. Only time will tell us how he will use it.

-- CAV

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I had not heard of Brat until the news about his upset victory over Cantor. I sent him a congratulatory email explaining that being from NJ I had not heard of him. I said I hoped he was in the vanguard of a wave of citizen candidates and that I hoped he thought of himself in that fashion and to remain a citizen and perhaps take advantage of national coverage that will ensue to promote the idea.

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It's amazing to me that immigration became such a central issue in a Republican house primary. It probably points to the rise of irrational xenophobia and nationalism in the last few years (not just in the U.S., its a world-wide trend that seems to come with recessions). If the GOP puts this type of guy in the house, I'll have to vote for Hillary as a counter-balance.

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Despite the media outlets downplay of the role of Drudge Report, I hear a number of the stories reported on the radio locally the day of, or after seeing the headline, or reading a link of interest from there. The headlines over the course of the last year have almost daily included something about illegal immigration, and for the last week, maybe two, it has been almost the exclusive subject of the feature picture and top links to the side of the picture.


The politicians may want to center around other issues. Their PR people and advisors must take into account what the constituents expect them to address. What the media centers in on as important has got to play a significant role in a predominantly social-metaphysical environment.

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Brat makes some remarkably good points about Economics:


He is of course a religious zealot, but his claims about Christianity are made clear, making his views transparent, and allow anyone to take the good and leave the bad out of what he has to say.

So he'll probably make for a decent spokesperson for economic freedom.

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I'll wager that Brat is better than Cantor, but I am somewhat uncomfortable with a congressman who so explicitly rests his political and economic views on a religious basis. Even—and perhaps especially—if the positions he holds are the correct ones. Brat may be better than Cantor, and he's probably even better than most Republican members of Congress, but I would shy away from tying my wagon too closely to his campaign. If I lived in his district, I would probably vote for him but not campaign for him.

There is hope, though, I suppose, that he could pave the way for more people who hold similar positions on economics to run for Congress and win elections, possibly even including some who don't promote their religious views quite so aggressively.

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