Other than being aware of all the hype surrounding Hillary Clinton, I’d not really given much thought this year to elections. Maybe the doldrums of summer dulled my political awareness. Whatever the cause, the result was I was stunned last night to hear that someone named Dave Brat had beaten Eric Cantor in Virginia’s Republican primary. The No. 2 House Republican was beaten by an unknown. And handily, too. 56% to 44%.
I knew things were getting bumpy for the Republicans, with the tea party and the old guard fighting for control. And I can’t say I’ve been unhappy to see the infighting; it’s divide and conquer for Dems without their lifting a finger. But I’d been hoping the more moderate, traditional Republicans would win out and the party would come to its senses. Instead, it seems determined to self-destruct, narrowing its base, getting more conservative, moving ever closer to a fatal plunge over the cliff of rightwing extremism.
And all this time I’ve been thinking Cantor was pretty damned conservative. I’m not thrilled to see him replaced with an economics professor and former seminary student; economic theories are great in a classroom, less so in the real world of budgets, finance, and global economies. Nor do we need more God in government from a man who wrote God and Advanced Mammon – Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism? and is working on Ethics as Leading Economic Indicator? What went Wrong? Notes on the Judeo-Christian Tradition and Human Reason. Will he keep his religion out of his lawmaking? I’ll just have to hope his Democratic opponent, also an unknown, beats him.
On a positive note, this upset does give me hope that big money and self-interest don’t completely own our political system. Not yet, anyway. Cantor had a war chest of $5.4 million. Brat raised less than $300,000.
The pundits are saying Cantor was dumped because he stopped listening to the people back home. He was too busy in Washington playing power politics and advancing his own political ambitions. That’s a message worth heeding by Republicans and Democrats alike.