Eric Cantor’s Defeat Means Congress Will Do Even Less For Next Two Years
Eric Cantor -- Mr. Obstruction himself has been obstructed
Last Tuesday's stunning defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is reverberating throughout Washington—especially, among Republicans who were once again reminded of the dangers of primary races involving Tea Party challengers.
What will Mr. Cantor’s demise mean for Republican politics as we move closer to this year’s Midterm election—as well as the 2016 Presidential Elections?
Mr. Cantor, the second highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives lost his seat in a primary election in Virginia to Tea Party challenger Dave Brat.
Mr. Cantor’s loss was a shocking defeat of historically epic proportions. In the hundred year history, no Majority Leader has ever lost in this manner.
Many pundits are now analyzing the reasons for this upset victory. Some say Mr. Cantor didn’t seem to be interested in the local concerns of his constituents and was more interested in Washington politics. Others say he’s nothing more than an establishment politician who cares only about the wealthy. But many argue the main reason for his political demise seems to revolve around the immigration debate.
Mr. Brat a local college professor reportedly ran a largely one-issue campaign on immigration. Brat reportedly accused Cantor of being an "amnesty supporter" for undocumented immigrants. Cantor was also characterized by Brat as a "Wall Street puppet."
The immigration issue is a toxic one for Republicans who are caught in a catch-22 situation.
The GOP desperately needs to add more diversity to its dwindling mostly White voter pool—particularly, as America’s racial and ethnic "minority" demographics are in the process of shifting the country to a less White one.
GOP officials are scrambling to find a replacement for Mr. Cantor. Several names have emerged as replacements including: Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), Steve Scalise (R-LA.), Tom Price (R-GA.) and Peter Roscam (R-Ill.). It is now being said Mr. McCarthy has the inside tract to replace Mr. Cantor, who reportedly will step down from his post by July 31.
Cantor’s defeat probably has many Republicans scampering to their medicine cabinets for antacids and heart medication pills.
Cantor’s precipitous fall is symptomatic of the volatile situation within the Republican Party; especially, since the rise of the Tea Party phenomena. And this internal pugilism within the GOP is a primary problem that has made Congress more of a mess than it was before the emergence of this segment of right-wing America that believes only their particular political objectives—with all their prejudicial baggage—should be represented.
Reason in American politics, a pre-requisite for meaningful negotiation, is becoming increasingly an oxymoronic idea.
The Republican base in America is filled with angry ignorant extremists who want government to mirror their narrow-minded worldview to the exclusion of everyone else.
Their talk about “taking our country” back is the cry of the White segment unhappy that those “others” in America have attained some measure of incremental goals. Such outbursts remind us of the 1960s during the resistance to ending segregation in the South.
The idea of a Black president in the White House is the fulfillment of some of the worst fears of prejudiced people. President Obama’s inauguration was surely a crushing image to their psyche; because it represents, in the minds of people who oppose progress, everything that is bad with integration with non-Whites.
Pundits are now dissecting the descent of Mr. Cantor. Some talk of his alleged invisibility on issues relevant to his local constituents. Others point to his closeness to Wall Street. But many pundits have linked his toppling to his, supposed, softness on the immigration issue.
Some say immigration couldn’t be the source of Cantor’s downfall because Virginia polls show many favoring immigration reform. However, this analysis, that immigration wasn’t a significant factor, maybe incorrect due to the low voter turnout in last Tuesday’s election in Mr. Cantor’s district. Low voter turnout may suggest that the outcome is not a good representative sampling of the results found in those polls.
In fact, that pool of voters may be more representative of the right-wing Republican base of bigots. And for these people immigration reform is akin to some sort of a treasonous act.
For extremists, there are already too many non-White people in America; particular African-Americans.
Ever wonder why White immigrants are never singled out for attacks when these folks are hyperventilating about illegal immigration? The bottom line is these folks want to take us back to a time in America when Blacks and “others” stayed in their damn place—as far away from Whites as possible.
Part of America’s myth is that it is a place where anyone can come and succeed with hard work. But this ideal was primarily meant for White immigrants coming to this country. Non-Whites face considerably more challenges to succeed and share in the bounty of the country.
Over fifty years ago, many people fought to integrate America in the hope of bringing more economic equality to Blacks and others. But after all these years, it is clear that a large portion of White society is more comfortable segregating themselves from Blacks and non-White “others.”
At a basic level, this is the main angst that has many right-wing and “conservatives” losing their minds now; they believe the government is no longer being run exclusively by White men.
Many people offer various reasons for the rise of the Tea Party phenomena. The racist streak with this party shouldn’t be minimized.
Some people will say because the Tea Party has enlisted the help of Black people like Alan West and Herman Cole that the party isn’t just a bunch of racists. This is ultimately tokenism. They represent a form of 21st Century blackface minstrelsy; they are there to offer cover while the bigger agenda is still bigotry.
Mr. Brat’s stunning victory is an example of the discomfort of right-wing Republicans who feel they’ve lost power in Washington—and that “others” are gaining too much political power. For years now—especially since the rise of the Tea Party—Republicans in Congress have realized that their base wants them to engage in obstructing the business of government.
And that is why Republicans have been doing nothing more than writing symbolic bills they know aren’t going anywhere, like all their repeal Obamacare bills; or, holding partisan political hearings about Benghazi, the IRS, Fast and Furious, and so forth.
Moreover, much of their obstruction and evisceration of social welfare programs are targeted at Black people. Ever since the rise of the Reagan Republican types, there has been a steady assault on those programs of the Sixties and Seventies that were championed by Civil Rights leaders and others.
The fight against Welfare, Food Stamps, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) are all not so subliminal attacks taken with Black people in mind even though Whites are the major beneficiaries proportionally and absolutely.
The Tea Party vision of governing—if you can call it that—is an all or nothing approach. They have a dictatorial streak that should scare those in America who say that they believe in the democratic process of governance.
For, whenever they can’t get our way they resort to extremist scorched-earth policy. Worst of all, Republicans more and more are adopting these tactics because of fears that what happened to Cantor could happen to them.
Unfortunately, Mr. Cantor’s fall only signals more obstruction in Congress, since many Republicans will be even more petrified of being pilloried in primaries by Tea Party challengers.
This means even less will be done between now and the 2016 Presidential Elections.