The often inherit conflicts of interests that can come with being a Representative of a district and a national leader, who needs to appeal to a broader coalition of supporters and lead by compromise, has finally hit home for now former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Although the many extreme policy shifts most Tea Party groups would like to see put in place can be disconcerting and makes the congressional primary election upset worthy of national attention, it is important to recognize Tea Party favorite David Brat’s win over Canter is not necessarily a negative to the People of his home district or the Country as a whole. It does, however, highlight the extreme volatility plaguing the Grand Old Party as the Tea Party insurgency tries to devour its parent organization.
Considering Republican responses to events like the freeing of US Solider Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity after five years, the GOP is acting more and more as though it is in a state of duress. That said, the fact that the Republican candidate for Canter’s district is both the Tea Party and the pro-business candidate, the unexpected upheaval in Virginia may not be as dramatic of a shift in terms of party politics, though massive internal division and a lack of seasoned leadership is going to further undermine the GOP’s ability to win elections. While David Brat’s campaign was largely based on an anti-immigration platform, which does setup a conflict of interests between the public good and businesses that happen to benefit from illegal labor, Cantor’s failure to properly represent his constituents in a responsive enough manner as he undertook his leadership role seems to have been the driving force behind his loss.
Truth be told, a great deal of this failure can probably also be blamed on Republican strategists. Since the election of President Obama, the GOP has relied heavily on an increasingly divisive, anti-everything- Obama platform to point even Obama’s embrace of Republican policy initiatives has been met with opposition. Unfortunately, for the GOP, the need to govern and accomplish something depends on cooperation with the majority of the Senate and the guy who can veto their legislation. Accomplishing little to nothing, the past few Congresses have barely managed to pass a few costly, last minute fixes to multiple near fiscal catastrophes and government shutdowns with no major public goods done through legislative action since the GOP became the majority in the House.
Being forced to do something, the Republicans actually have to agree with the Obama Administration, which they radicalized in the minds of their key supporters. Trying to break the social momentum Republicans created, Cantor’s slight turn from the hyper-speed anti-Obama agenda has ended in disaster. In other words, Obama was turned into a “third rail issue” for the Tea Party Members and other far-Right constituents of his district, i.e. the association with Democrats outweighed sound policy solutions in the primary. Unfortunately, the consequences of Canter’s failed reelection bid will be fear and that fear will discourage candidates from engaging in constructive campaigning when it comes the general election where the Tea Party will have far less influence. On the other hand, it is ultimately the voters who decide the winner and the Tea Party is not the majority, so voters must support solutions over politics in the forthcoming election.
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