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The Cantor earthquake.
Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 6/13/14
There was a political earthquake this week. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Republican representative from the 7th Congressional District of Virginia, lost his primary to an unknown college professor with no political experience and no money.
Cantor’s loss is without precedent. It marks the first time since the position was created in 1899 that a sitting House Majority Leader has ever been defeated in a primary.
Members of the commentariat from both sides of the political divide are holding forth as to what it means.
Liberals see it as great news. It is, by their calculus, evidence of further hijacking of the GOP by the Tea Party. The lefty conventional wisdom holds that the Tea Party will pull GOP primaries so far to the right as to serve up nominees that cannot possibly win in general elections. Whatever happens in 2014, say my colleagues on the left, Cantor’s defeat is but prologue to a smashing Hillary Clinton victory in 2016.
Conservatives see it differently. The conservative hypothesis is that GOP candidates like Mitt Romney lose elections precisely because they fail to articulate a clearly compelling alternative to what the Dems are offering. “Give voters the choice between a Democrat and a Democrat and they’ll go for the Democrat every time,” says the righty wisdom. Against that backdrop, Cantor’s defeat is seen on the right as a clear signal to the so-called GOP “establishment” – decide now as to upon which side of the barricades you intend to stand.
I, myself, think it’s really very simple. We – you and I – are fed up.
If Democrats want a greatly expanded federal regulatory apparatus, federal management of the American health care industry, an exponential increase in the size and scope of the welfare state, a devil-may-care policy regarding the federal debt and an insouciant attitude with respect to the security of our southern border, they’d better show some evidence that such policies actually work and are making the lives of average Americans better. Judging by every available poll, even some Dems are starting to have their doubts.
If Republicans truly believe in smaller government, balanced budgets, free markets and reduced regulation, they’d better make the case that if given control of the levers of government again, it will be different this time. Of the last time the GOP was in charge, I’m reminded of the line from the movie Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang. Said Lord Scrumptious to Caractacus Potts, “Had your chance, muffed it!”
The truth is Cantor’s seismic defeat should give comfort to no one in the ruling class. So long as the debt continues to mount, so long as the government’s towering cost is matched only by its cosmic incompetence, so long as health care becomes an even bigger problem than it was before Obamacare and so long as the border remains swamped – now with tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America – party elites from both sides should learn to sleep with one eye open.