The big news over the last week of course has been House Majority Leader Eric Cantor losing his re-election to David Brat. With that loss Cantor announced he would be stepping down as Majority Leader within the House. This mixture of news has made the blogs go crazy, especially political blogs that lean towards the right. Realistically there have only been two Republicans going after Cantors leadership position: Kevin McCarthy (CA) and Pete Sessions (TX). Just a short bit ago Sessions decided he was not going after the Majority leader position after all. This effectively gives McCarthy the win. It is unlikely any single House Republican can mount the support between now and the secret vote next Thursday to claim a victory over McCarthy. McCarthy’s likely win will show the elected Republicans in DC have learned nothing from Cantors defeat.
The first thing to look at is why Cantor lost. It seems too many bloggers and political pundits have been stating that Cantor lost either because of being soft on immigration reform or because the Tea Party wanted him out. Neither reason actually seems to have any connection with reality, but fits nicely with the talking points of people forgetting to check their bias at the door. Those blaming “soft on immigration” should look at a recent POLITICO poll showing most of Americans (including Republicans) want comprehensive immigration reform. Furthermore a poll in Cantors own district showed over 70% support for immigration reform. Status quo Republicans have got to give up this silly war on immigrants if they plan to move forward as a party.
And as far as the Tea Party being a reason for Cantor losing? Really? I have yet to find any credible source showing any Tea Party group that actually used to money to promote Brat, or even to defeat Cantor with attacks. The only involvement from Tea Party groups that I can find is them yelling “We support you” from afar. No, the Tea Party had nothing to do with Cantor’s loss.
Instead I would say Cantor’s loss was a direct results of two things:
- Cantor loves to talk small government, while voting the exact opposite of his rhetoric.
- Cantor is an arrogant ass.
Other than Obamacare, it is hard to find a big-government expanding bill that Cantor hasn’t supported and voted yes on. Some examples include the PATRIOT ACT, TARP, No Child Left Behind, Government Motors, and appropriations bills that ran amuck of the Budgetary Control Act. Cantor is almost a cliche example of a status-quo DC Republican who pretends to be fiscally conservative, yet fails to actually vote that way when it truly matters.
Where do I get the idea Cantor is arrogant? Well, other than the fact I watch him on CSPAN often; I was able to speak with a colleague of mine who actually lives in his district (full disclosure, she is a Democrat). She says there is a very unfavorable opinion of Cantor across party lines in his district and wouldn’t be surprised if he moved to DC after this loss since nobody loves him in Virginia. In addition NYmag has a article looking at the variety of people who truly detest Cantor.
OK, I hear some people ask. Yes, Cantor was political hypocrite and very unliked, but what does that have to do with McCarthy? Well, McCarthy also loves to give the good “I’m a fiscal conservative” talk.. Yet he supported expansion of the PATRIOT ACT, TARP, No Child Left Behind, Government Motors, and appropriations bills that ran amuck of the Budgetary Control Act (a copy/paste of Cantors ‘accomplishments’). Actually from a fiscally conservative perspective the only good thing about McCarthy is that he isn’t an arrogant ass; yet that is not enough to redeem the fact he doesn’t walk the path he talks.
If When the House Republicans choose McCarthy next week it will be continuation of the status-quo big-government party the national GOP has become. At that time the DC Republicans will reinforce the fact they don’t care about fiscal conservatism. They will also double-down on the misguided belief that a war on immigrants is the right path.
There is a possible silver-lining with McCarthy being chosen as Majority Leader however. Such a move may push more people away from voting for establishment politicians in the future. And that is truly the only way to start fixing the many problems in DC: incumbents have to go! It is time for voters from all political persuasions to actually send elected officials to DC that can be honest with their constituents; as opposed to current politicians (from all parties) that are only answerable to special interest groups.