Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Eric Cantor a Week Later

I can honestly say that I don't often stay on top of the news cycle with my posts here. Usually by the time I get around to posting, the story is too far past to be relevant anymore- so I don't post. But the story last week with Eric Cantor bears a comment or two.

Yes, it was a huge political earthquake. A staunch Republican district unseating their incumbent who also happens to be the majority leader of the House, one step away from Speaker. Wow! It has never happened before.

Yes, it was a huge example of small money beating big money. All those steak dinners didn't earn enough votes even though more was spent on that than the winner spent. Remarkable.

Yes, it does have to do with the political division that we have become so used to in the past 20 years. It is easy to pick ideological fights and stain someone's place with broad stroke statements based on even microscopic issues.

Yes, it does raise many questions for both parties in this off-year election cycle. Most will not be answered to anyone's satisfaction until November. If then!

So let me give one thought. My gut tells me that in the end this has very little to do with actual ideology or that Cantor was "too liberal". It may have had something to do with what was seen by many as an inability to stick with what he says he believes, but many politicians have that problem and keep getting reelected. Most of the time voters are willing to stay with their own politician even while decrying all politicians. At least theirs is one they know.

Which brings me to what I think may be the most damning issue for Eric Cantor. He wasn't his constituents politician anymore. He had become a Big-Deal-Washington-Insider-Politician. The voters didn't know Cantor anymore. He ignored them. He had, as some might say, become too big for his britches. Along comes a nobody who seemed only to be in it for the ideology, no expectations of winning, just making sure the issue gets raised.

And like a similar situation with Democrat Eugene McCarthy in 1968 upsetting Lyndon Johnson, Professor Brat wins.

Simply no one really liked Eric Cantor to begin with. He was seen by many to be obnoxious, self-righteous, self-centered and probably many other things. When someone has that kind of reputation, all an opponent needs to do is find the right break in the armor and move in.

Will this be the beginning of a resurgence of the Tea Party? My guess is that it won't. (But I have been wrong before.) There will continue to be ups and downs and, if the past 20 years of electioneering has taught us anything it is that you can expect the unexpected when you least expect it.

Unfortunately, this will probably only deepen the ideological camps and make the divide even bigger. Not what we need to bring our country around again. It will be a tough election year and just continue into the 2016 presidential cycle which began two years ago before the last cycle was even finished.

Hang on for the ride. It isn't going to be pretty.

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