After this Tuesday’s primary results, it’s time to be very scared if you are an entrenched Washington DC professional politician – Democrats and Republicans.
“Some brimstone baritone
Anticyclone rolling stone
Preacher from the east
Says, “Dethrone the dictaphone.
Hit it in its funny bone.
That’s where they expect it least.
Blinded by the light.
Revved up like a deuce
Another runner in the night.”
“Blinded By The Light”
Writer(s): Bruce Springsteen
Copyright: Sony/ATV Music Publishing (Uk) Limited, Bruce Springsteen Music
In the Republican primary for the Virginia House of Representative 7th District seat, the reigning seven-time Congressman got beat. Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader and presumptive future Speaker of the House, lost to an unknown economics professor from a 1,300 student college. Cantor’s opponent, David Brat, teaches at Randolph Macon College, a private liberal arts college located in Ashland, Virginia. Ashland is a railroad own of 7,000 residents, which is jokingly the self-proclaimed “Center of the Universe”.
On June 10, 2014, Ashland, Virginia was the “Center of the Universe”, at least the center of the United States political universe. Something was about to change your world, especially if you were an established long-term Washington political insider – Eric Cantor lost, 44.5% to 55.5%. The day before the primary, the right-wing Daily Caller’s poll had Cantor leading by 13%. Ten days before the primary, Cantor’s polling firm, McLaughlin & Associates, had Cantor ahead by 34%, 62% to 28%. John Cassidy’s blog for The New Yorker magazine had an article headlined “Cantor Loses, And Washington Goes Ape”.
As well Washington DC should. Its cloistered, internecine and highly self-absorbed world of politicos, reporters, commentators, lobbyists and assorted grifters and hangers-on (like pollsters and consultants) lost one of their own. Eric Cantor wasn’t especially liked, even by members of his own party, but he was one of them. As the infighting to fill the sudden large vacuum of political power occurs in and amongst all of the groups listed above, something that they fear deep down happened: none of them saw it coming.
They all should have. There have been many signs of a technetronic shift in politics occurring for years, which they helped cause. But they got blinded by the light of their own making. As a result, Eric Cantor got blind sided by the right.
In February, Dave Brat wrote in The Daily Caller:
“Congressman Cantor’s profile has been erratic even by Washington standards — flitting from eager establishmentarian coat-holder to self-glorified “Young Gun” and back again. His loyalties, both upward and downward, have shifted in his eager embrace of the Ruling Class. Washington’s only genuine article of faith: maintaining control regardless of how that control affects the life of the folks back home.”
By Jove, I think he’s got it!
Opensecrets.org is the source to find out contributors to political campaigns. Eric Cantor’s campaign contributors included:
$65,000 from The Blackstone Group, investment bankers, co-founded by Pete Peterson, Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Commerce and very vocal advocate of cutting Social Security and Medicare payments. Pete Peterson is one of the leaders of “I’ve got mine, I don’t give a bleep whether you get yours” baloney that is now marketed as “Fiscal Responsibility”. Tell that to a sick senior citizen living on his/her monthly SSI check, Pete. If those programs were good enough for Ayn Rand to receive, they are good enough for you, too.
$26,600 from Goldman Sachs, led by our good friend, Lloyd Blankfein, leading member of the morally corrupt wing of the 1%. Goldman Sachs is leading the fight against enforcing the current and enhancing the Glass-Stegall Act provisions attempting to prevent the banking actions, done by Goldman Sachs and others who the Federal Government had to bail out financially, which caused the Great Recession.
$25,600 from the Altia Corporation, producer of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. The Tea Party was started in the failed aftermath of the campaign against regulation of the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry has done even more damage just causing emphysema and lung cancer, it brought the Koch Brothers into national politics.
Dave Brat’s campaign contributors included:
$5,400 from Baugh’s Auto Body, Bent’s biggest campaign contributor
$2,500 from Covered Cleaning Concepts
$2,500 from Walker Fitness
Baugh’s Auto Body must be one of the Koch Brothers’ secret campaign contribution groups.
Now, there is plenty of reasons to be concerned about David Brat becoming a Congressman. There are too many right-wing extremist crazies in the House already: Darrell Issa, Dana Rohrabacher, Michele Bachmann, Ted Yoho, Steve King, Marsha Blackburn, and a whole bunch of other reverse Mensa members. Brat is an economist, but like those on this list, he has a strong puritanical religious streak and a strong desire to inflict it upon others. As a professor, he has a lot of research papers published that espouse his “unique” economic theories. In a 2011 paper entitled “God and the Advanced Mammon — Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism?”, Brat wrote:
“Capitalism is here to stay, and we need a church model that corresponds to that reality. Read Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s diagnosis of the weak modern Christian democratic man was spot on. Jesus was a great man. Jesus said he was the Son of God. Jesus made things happen. Jesus had faith. Jesus actually made people better. Then came the Christians. What happened? What went wrong? We appear to be a bit passive. Hitler came along, and he did not meet with unified resistance. I have the sinking feeling that it could all happen again, quite easily. The church should rise up higher than Nietzsche could see and prove him wrong. We should love our neighbor so much that we actually believe in right and wrong, and do something about it. If we all did the right thing and had the guts to spread the word, we would not need the government to backstop every action we take.”
Oh, really? And the right thing is? And who decides what the “right thing” to do, Dave Brat? Oh, that is the role of THE GOVERNMENT OF LAWS that you are campaigning to join. Being a little hypocritical here, Dave?
“Brat launched his campaign in January. Like many tea party-aligned candidates, he said he wanted to address the nation’s ballooning deficit and that he wanted to be Cantor’s “term limit.”
But, even for a conservative hopeful, he took on the Republican establishment in unusually harsh terms. Shortly after launching his campaign, according to an account in the Culpeper Star Exponent, Brat held an event in which he suggested that Washington politicians charged money to pass laws. He also said that, to get a seat on the House Ethics Committee, a member would have to pay $150,000.
“These days everything is for sale in D.C,” Brat said at the time, according to the paper.
Appearing on Fox News after the race was called, Brat disputed the characterization of the race as being simply a battle between the tea party and establishment. He said he had won support from Republicans across the board who were attracted to his espousal of fiscal conservatism and “faith in God.”“
By the way, Dave, are you now accepting campaign contributions from others you don’t know? Does that mean you are for sale now, too?
It is very easy to make spurious national correlations from a primary where 65,000 people voted. Those who are blinded by the light of Washington politics are drawing the wrong conclusions about this race. There were certainly a lot of the typical right-wing shibboleths involved: anti-immigration, national debt, race and women’s reproductive rights. But what I think resonated with these voters is: “These days everything is for sale in D.C.” That is the ethos that Eric Cantor represents.
If I’m correct, then the Republicans have a bigger problem going forward in national politics than they think. Their policies on economics and social issues have proven to be wrong, harmful and non-supportable factually. They have nothing ready to replace those policies. The current remaining national faces of the Republicans are Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Lindsey Graham, Paul Ryan and John McCain. Their best hope is Rand Paul and The Unamazing Randy has the racist baggage of his own and his father’s odd ideas to deal with. These Republicans are constantly blinded by the light of the national media and of their own blusterful self-importance. They have contradicted themselves so often that anything they say becomes the nightly fodder for Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and David Letterman.
The Republicans need to change the messengers and messages of the failed policies of the past. If the Republicans really listen to Dave Brat, they will understand that he did them a great favor in defeating Eric Cantor. He exposed to them the truth about what they have become – power-hungry obstructionist greed heads.
To change their policies, they risk losing their base of predominantly white male voters. If they change their policies, they are going against their wishes of their rich financial backers. However, if they don’t change their policies, they are not going to make gains to attract the new political majority: non-whites, females, middle/lower class members and youths. The Republicans are stuck having to choose between their ideas of the past that didn’t work and those that will work in the present and for the future.
If I’m correct, then the Democrats have an even bigger problem. They have no viable excuses to make for not keeping their majority in the Senate and gaining seats, if not a majority, in the House. If little-known and underfunded Dave Brat can defeat Eric Cantor, why can’t the Democrats defeat a whole bunch of Eric Cantors?
“These days everything is for sale in D.C” is both the message and the messenger. It is not the message of Harry Reid, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or Nancy Pelosi can deliver because they represent the same tired ideological gridlock that McConnell, Boehner, Graham, Ryan and McCain do. They all, Democrat and Republican, give the appearance of being bought-off by the special interest groups that dominate the post-Citizens United era. Not being for sale is consistent with the liberal/progressive message of Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders, none of whom have been in the Senate for more than 6 years. It is consistent with the liberal/progressive work in the House of Keith Ellison, Xavier Becerra and Linda Sanchez, none of whom have been in the House for more than 10 years.
Eric Cantor got beat for 5 reasons which should serve as storm brewing alerts to all current Washington politicos.
1. Cantor was so busy working on his national ambitions that he forgot the reason he was first elected to his Congressional seat – to serve and be in touch with the citizens of your district. Cantor had not held a Town Hall meeting in Virginia for 5 years.
2. Once you get to Washington, you should be representing your district’s, state’s and country’s interests. Spending 2 days each week trying to open up the wallets of your wealthy campaign contributors is taking away from, not doing what you were elected to do.. Cantor raised $5 million dollars and was meeting with his wealthy campaign contributors in Washington the morning of the primary, instead of being in his district greeting voters. Having big money is no longer a guarantee to getting elected. It’s long overdue to pass real campaign finance laws. Doing so will make your political life a lot easier.
3. There are real world issues to be addressed that affect the people in your district. Getting a decent paying job, paying medical expenses if you get sick or injured, getting help if you lose your job or become disabled, being able to afford buying a home or send your children to college are concerns of most of your constituent’s daily lives, especially those of the middle and lower class. Even something as governmentally fundamental as fixing potholes and making bridges safe have been made into big partisan fights because you didn’t like the black man of the other party becoming the country’s president. You’ve lost perspective and focus on what the role of federal government is: to serve the interests of all the people of the country.
4. The media echo chamber giveth and now the media echo chamber taketh away. A key event in the Brat campaign was when national political radio talk show host Laura Ingraham appeared at a campaign rally to support Dave Brat. Ingraham and Mark Levin endorsed Brat on the airwaves. Ingraham, Levin, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Maddow, Schultz and Matthews are not your bosses, their role is to keep you honest about what you are doing wrong and report on what you are doing well, from their informed perspective.
5. The Democrats are the other party with a different basic view on the role of government. They are not Nazis, Storm Troopers, Godless Sinners or Kenyan Muslim Socialists. Nor are the Republicans the Morally Bankrupt Piety Dispensers out to destroy every part of the federal government. Every event that happens is not going to end the republic as we know it. Both sides need to tone down the vitriolic name calling nonsense. You must agree to disagree, when you can’t compromise. The Alyn Beck’s and Igor Soldo’s are direct results of how dysfunctional you have become to the public. The growing anti-government movement is indicative of the public’s unhappiness with all the childish gridlock and dysfunction displayed by the members of Congress.
The biggest lesson to be learned from the Cantor-Brat primary is to not be blinded by the light when in office. What Dave Brat and the Tea Party represent is an outcry from the politics as usual that have left so many voters feeling disowned, disenfranchised and disillusioned. The problem is what Dave Brat and the Tea Party want to do is will leave many, many more in the darkness of being disowned, disenfranchised and disillusioned and having nowhere to turn for help.
What is needed and necessary is for both parties and political ideologies to start making an affirmative and detailed case made about what their values and policies are. Why have those policies worked best of all Americans in the past and will work better than the opposing party (s) in the future? To be able to make this affirmative and detailed case, the messenger and the message must be impeccably intertwined, a/k/a “You got to walk it like you talk it”. Both parties have the opportunity in this mid-term election, free from the overwhelming attention paid to the presidential election, to make their affirmative cases.
Both sides need to hit the other in the funny bone, where it hurts most, to get the other to start paying attention to business. Government is not being blinded by the light of running for office and appearing constantly in the national media, once elected. It’s about getting revved up by the ideas of how to make lives better and seeing the results of those ideas, legislation, in action. It is making your constituents revved up like a deuce and runners in the night about what their government is doing for them, too.
It is all about governing and governance. Right, Eric Cantor?