Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cantor Loss Sings Volumes

Cantor Loss Sings Volumes
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 11, 2014

I like Eric Cantor. I’ve talked with him numerous times and he’s a good guy – a genuine mensch. However, to quote the cantankerous and irascible baseball manager Leo “the Lip” Durocher, “nice guys finish last.”

Nearing the end of his seventh term in Congress representing Virginia’s seventh district, Eric Cantor was defeated in a Republican primary – the first House Majority Leader so vanquished since the advent of that post in 1899.

Cantor’s defeat can be attributed to both the amnesty for illegals issue as well as his losing touch with his constituents in the Richmond suburbs. And sadly, he is on the wrong side of both, as political newcomer Dave Brat proved in his stunning 55.45 percent to 45.55 percent trouncing of the second highest ranking Republican in Congress.

Considering Cantor’s district is but a couple hours drive south of DC, and not half a day by plane in  places like California or Montana, he had no excuse, especially since Cantor returned home each week. But the voters felt Cantor lost sight of the fact that “all politics is local,” as the late Speaker of the House, Thomas P. “Tip” O ‘Neill (D-MA) oft-quipped.

Eric Cantor is a “world class legislator of great integrity,” said fellow GOP House member Chris Smith of New Jersey.

Cantor’s loss sends shockwaves, not just through Virginia or the GOP, but the entire body politic that should put the establishment on notice.

While many in the media will paint Brat as a far right TEA Party loon, all one need do is hear Brat’s words; read his positions as they are everyday issues about which the average American cares.

“I ran on free markets, the rule of law, immigration, property rights, and free market constitutional issues. I don’t think those are left or right issues. I don’t think many people in DC know what free markets are,” said Brat, in a post-primary interview with Sean Hannity on the Fox News Channel.

“We have to take free markets seriously; simplify the tax code,” which is pro-growth and will restore jobs, said Brat, 49, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland since 1996, when he moved to Virginia.

Originally from Alma, MI, Brat, a Roman Catholic, is married to wife Laura and the couple have two children, Jonathan and Sophia. Brat earned his Bachelors in Business Administration from Hope College, a Masters in Divinity from the Princeton Theological Seminary, and a PhD in Economics from American University. Brat has never held public office, yet made an unsuccessful attempt at a Virginia House of Delegates seat in 2011. In this race he earned vigorous support from conservative radio hosts Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham, which along with his solid door to door grassroots effort proved indefatigable against Cantor’s huge financial advantage. Cantor spent more than $5 million to Brat’s roughly $200,000, proving, as Brat said, “money doesn’t vote, people vote.”

Perhaps an economics professor is just what the House needs. Brat correctly campaigned on issues such as the bloated budget and deficit, noting that the nation is $17 trillion in debt with $127 trillion in unfunded liabilities. “No leader on either side [of the aisle] is mentioning this [and] I have based my campaign on this issue,” said Brat, who will face off against Jack Trammell, another Randolph-Macon professor, this November.

Most every federal program is insolvent, suggested Brat, reminding people that the central government in Washington, DC is designed to be limited. “The 10th Amendment is the big one; the Constitution has enumerated powers belonging to the federal government. All the rest of the powers belong to the states and the people,” said Brat at his victory celebration Tuesday night.

In addition to debt, simplifying the tax code, and free markets, Brat noted the economics of Obamacare as a problem. He said it is important to separate  health care from insurance; that the people need to understand the price system and see the true bottom line. He cited, for example, that a person shows up at the doctor with the sniffles and pays a $20 co-pay, when the reality of that office visit costs $200.

But Brat singled out immigration as a vital issue needing serious attention. “Closing the border is very important,” said Brat, adding that it is necessary to get our own house in order. “We’re out of control there,” said Brat.

Hopefully, the defeat of Cantor will make comprehensive immigration reform DOA should it reach a vote on the House floor. This should send a message, that the rank and file – the voters, are tired of Executive Orders and Obama’s threats to use his phone and pen to achieve his goals whether inside or outside his purview as president or the rule of law.

“No other House Republican will want to end up like Cantor,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Cantor will step down as Majority Leader effective July 31.

“He won because people don’t want illegal immigration,” said Midlothian, VA resident and Brat volunteer Laurie Kalata. Clearly this is the spring of the voters discontent.

Sadly Cantor took too much of an amnesty view on the issue of illegal immigration – too willing to compromise with Obama. This is an issue where there should be no compromise. It should not be emotional, but instead logical and within the rule of law. Those who cross the border without permission are in the United States illegally, have broken the law, have no legal right to be here, and should be returned to their country of origin. (Yes, there is the emotional aspect of this issue clearly on display thanks to the media, particularly in recent weeks with the overrun of the southern border by unaccompanied children. More to follow on that issue in a separate column.)

“I will make Washington, DC as irrelevant to your everyday life as possible,” said Brat.

Was the defeat of Cantor an anomaly? Time will tell as the November midterm elections are but five months away.

Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige said “don’t look back, something  may be gaining on you.” Perhaps it is high time the establishment in Washington take a little peek.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. Prior to Indiana, Horn lived in Virginia and was politically active there.

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