House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Salon has multiple posts examining this stunning addition to this exclusive GOP group.
Here’s David Atkins:
Brat’s victory was a momentous, unequivocal win for the far right. Tea Party types had been strongly pressing for Cantor’s removal for a long time, particularly because Cantor was seen as insufficiently hostile to immigration reform. Assuming that Democrats cannot take control of the House in 2014, Cantor’s defeat means that our broken immigration system will not see any significant fixes from the legislative branch until 2017 at the earliest.
More than that, however, this historic election should serve as a lesson for the left. It is the clearest demonstration yet of how and why American politics continues to drift inexorably to the right on all but a few social issues. The conservative base pulled off its biggest upset yet against a powerful establishment candidate, but underfunded radicals defeating establishment incumbents is a regular feature of the GOP primary process in a way that has few parallels on the Democratic side. Even in New York where anti-establishment progressives have a strong base in the Working Families Party, there was little appetite for directly challenging centrist Gov. Andrew Cuomo. In fact, the most noteworthy challenge to a Democratic congressional incumbent this year is occurring from the right in CA-17, as business-friendly
millionaire* Ro Khanna challenges longtime progressive Democratic incumbent Mike Honda.
Brat dinged Cantor for voting to raise the debt ceiling. He attacked Cantor for voting to end the government shutdown (Brat described this, insanely, as voting “to fully fund Obamacare”). Basically, Brat ran against the very concept of a functioning, competent government, and he considered Cantor to be complicit.
And that gets us to what the GOP is looking at going down the road. Last March, the Republican National Committee strongly recommended that the party pass comprehensive immigration reform in order to stanch the bleeding when it came to Hispanic support. “If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only,” the committee warned.
That obviously didn’t happen – in fact, from an outreach standpoint they’re worse off now than when they started. Immigration reform was dead before they began tallying votes in Virginia last night, and the guy who helped kill it was beaten by the allegation that he supports “amnesty.”
Brat’s win also sends the message that deviation from conservative orthodoxy – even rhetorical – carries the risk of retribution from the activist base, which is growing increasingly extreme and irrational in its standards for purity. As Eric Cantor found out, even loyal and effective obstructionism is no guarantee you won’t end up on the tea party’s shit list.
and Joan Walsh, to name a few:
Around 8 p.m. MSNBC began running B-roll footage of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as though he died, and, well, he did politically. None of the major networks were prepared to cover a major election upset. In a GOP primary season where the big story had been the GOP establishment beating back the Tea Party, the story turned on a dime with Cantor’s stunning defeat. He is the first majority leader in history to lose in a primary in his own party since 1899.
This is a huge victory for anti-immigration extremists, including Ann Coulter, Matt Drudge, Laura Ingraham and Mickey Kaus. Drudge is mocking Salon for writing that Cantor was likely to beat unknown far-right economics professor Dave Brat, but in fact Jim Newell got the pulse of the race right. Brat had accused Cantor of shoving immigration reform down the party’s throat – the right is obsessed with things being forced down their throats? – and with recent news about children crossing the border from Mexico vainly hoping for congressional sanity in the form of an immigration deal, the issue had new heat.
“Eric Cantor represents large corporations who want a never-ending supply of cheap, low-wage foreign labor,” Brat said in his stump speech. “Eric Cantor saying he opposes amnesty is like Barack Obama saying he opposes Obamacare.” On MSNBC Tuesday night, Chuck Todd recalled that this morning, in an interview, Dave Brat used “amnesty” roughly every fourth word.
This, of course, means there will be no immigration reform at any time in the foreseeable future. Long-term this is political suicide for the GOP, but its leaders are focused on 2014 and believe the key to success is turning out its anxious older white base. Tonight’s VA-07 result will only reinforce that conviction. But the 2016 race also got upended tonight. There’s been growing chatter about Jeb Bush mustering the gumption to make a run, now that Chris Christie seems mortally wounded, but it’s really hard to see anyone who called families crossing the border to the U.S. “an act of love” winning the GOP primary right now.
Long term, this result is poisonous for the GOP as a national party. The ideological purity demanded by the base of the party is forcing Republican politician into a catch-22: to win a GOP primary, they must take positions that hurt their chances in a general election. As far as demographics have already shifted, the purity demand on immigration policy implied by this election result, may already be enough to prevent any member of the GOP from winning a national election. While we may not yet be at that point we will be soon, if current demographic trends continue, unless the base is willing to allow the GOP to evolve its positions on certain issues.
Short term however, this result terrifies me. Sure, the nation’s views on homosexuality has changed faster than anyone, I feel, could have predicted, the days of the Caucasian Male majority are over, and the non-religious are growing daily, but the white man uber allas shit still has enough draw to control the House, perhaps the Senate, and multiple state governments. We are watching how much damage they can do, with the seemingly endless anti-abortion bills we hear of, and the constant deadlock in Congress. It can definitely get worse before it gets better, and if ideologically pure Republican does manage, due to scandal, turn out, outbreak of war, or just the feeling of “you had it 8 years, lets give it to the other side for a turn”, to get elected President with a sympathetic Congress, it could take decades to undo the damage.
And like every Tea Party victory, it pushes the political center a bit further to the right.