Eric Cantor lost in the Republican Party primary election yesterday to a political novice named Dave Brat, a college professor backed by the Tea Party. To hear the chattering classes tell it, this outcome is akin to the arrival of the four horses of the apocalypse. Bold headlines with words like shocking, seismic, and breathtaking are everywhere. Cantor himself in the moments before his concession speech had that deer in the headlights look as if he was shocked at the nerve required of the voters to deny him his eighth term in office. For his part, Brat looked just as shocked, as if he couldn’t believe their nerve either for electing an economics professor with no political experience. What to think?
For the record, and I know that this will infuriate some of you, I did not vote yesterday. My reason is a simple and pragmatic one, I am not a Republican. This was, after all, a Republican Party primary, and for the same reason that I wouldn’t vote in a Democratic Party primary, I didn’t vote in this one. I feel that only Republican voters should get to decide who their nominee will be. I’m aware that the election was open to any registered voter, but this was a party squabble, and I considered it none of my business.
Now, about the outcome, a few thoughts… I have voted for Mr. Cantor on a few occasions during his 16 year run as Congressman, but it’s been a while. But the longer he has served, the more entitled he has become. This is often the case with politicians of all parties. They may start out with noble intentions, but once they begin to enjoy the benefits of membership in the elite ruling class, they become something else entirely. I am encouraged with the results of this election for the following reasons, none of which have anything to do with Dave Brat.
- If the result of this election puts the fear of God into entrenched incumbents of both parties, this will be an incredibly beneficial thing for the country. If politicians actually believed that all of them were truly accountable to their constituents, this will serve as a restraint against their more mendacious tendencies.
- Anyone who claims to desire a Congress that is more reflective of the will of the voters must cheer any dilution of the power of incumbency.
- Most of the political talking heads I have surveyed this morning all agree that Eric Cantor’s defeat will make any new legislation for the next two years virtually impossible, so spooked will everyone be that a false vote might come back to haunt them come election day. I submit that this is perhaps the happiest result of all. I can’t think of anything this nation needs more than a two year vacation from Congress passing laws!
- There is something delicious about imagining the horror that must have been coursing through the veins of every career political in DC when the results were announced last night. The prospect, once thought impossible, that their lifetime of privilege and entitlement, their permanently safe seats, their status as the country’s elite might actually be threatened by, er, uh…mere voters, must have been terrifying. The possibility that they might actually one day be forced to find gainful employment somewhere besides the public teat, just might clear the cobwebs. It is a good thing for the Republic to be reminded occasionally that public office is NOT and has never been a divine right, that the phrase, “We the People” actually means something.
No one should shed any tears for our retiring Congressman. He leaves office with an insanely generous pension and will land a seven-figure job with some beltway lobbying firm before Labor Day.