Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What are the take-aways from Cantor loss?

Cantor was too far "left" for the Limbaugh Party and not anti-immigrant enough. 
I'm still trying to get a handle on Cantor's defeat in Va.'s bright red 7th Cong. Dist. The obvious is that Cantor, the most conservative member of the GOP House leadership, was just too far "left" and not anti-immigrant enough for the Limbaugh Party.

It's too bad, in a way. Cantor was one of my favorite foils here at Small Talk. It was back in January that Cantor launched a verbal attack on newly-elected N.Y. Mayor Bill de Blasio and went to bat for his hedge-fund school reformer friends in N.Y. I noted then that
“America is in the midst of an education revolution," [Cantor told] the Brookings Institute, referring to the unfettered growth of privately-run charter schools and school vouchers going to private and church-run schools.The real irony has this self-proclaimed anti-Washington, anti-gummint, local-control advocate trying to bully a city mayor and a local school district.
I love the way these guys always frame themselves as r-r-revolutionaries. Wasn't that the battle cry of the two nazi crazies who murdered the two cops in Las Vegas after coming off the Bundy ranch?
They pinned onto the other officer's body a note saying something to the effect of "this is the beginning of the revolution."
I guess Cantor's revolutionary days are just about over.

While it was only one low turn-out primary in one state (Lindsey Graham beat T-baggers easily in S.C.), it demonstrates the potential power and discipline of the gun-toting racists and anti-government, anti-abortion, anti-gay, and anti-immigrant groups, who have been encouraged by recent perceived victories, court decisions, and the Obama administration's retreat in its confrontation with Bundy's racist militia. 

The Cantor defeat was a sign that,  despite Citizens United and the best efforts of the Koch Bros., big money campaigns don't always win, especially in a low turn-out election. I would qualify that last comment by pointing out that Cantor's opponent David Brat, who teaches courses on Ayn Rand at Randolph-Macon College, was the beneficiary of millions of dollars worth of free right-wing radio time (in particular Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham gave loud support to Brat), underwritten by the Koch Bros.

Cantor's defeat could open  new possibilities for Democratic candidates to make inroads in red Tea Party states. But unlike the Tea Party, an independent, Democratic movement can't be a white one organizationally or ideologically, and must have labor out in front. Neither can it be just a progressive tail on a Democratic Party dog.

It's worth noting that education issues played an important role in Cantor's defeat. Like Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, Cantor was an outspoken supporter of Common Core Standards, which have become a litmus-test issue for conservatives who view the national guidelines as usurping local control of schools. In the congressional campaign, Brat criticized Cantor for supporting centralized educational reforms, including Common Core. This Tea Party victory could be a nail in Bush's presidential hopes, giving more or less a free ride for Hillary Clinton or whoever.

As I pointed out in my Bridging Differences dialogue with my friend Deb Meier, I hope my fellow progressive critics of Common Core don't go looking for allies among the likes of Brat and the Koch Bros. crew. It should go without saying ... but it doesn't.

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