Tuesday, June 10, 2014

They Did WHAT To the House Majority Leader?

I was going to write about the increase in gun violence putting lie to the NRA's obsession to turn the Second Amendment into a License to Kill, but then I got home to the current news coming out of Virginia:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is losing his primary to a virtual unknown Far Right challenger.

This is part Schadenfreude, the part where I laugh my moderate RINO ass off as a solid conservative party leader is getting creamed because he wasn't Far Right enough for his own district.

Cantor's positions are - well were is the operative word now that we're talking past tense - very much anti-abortion, anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-gay, anti-matter, anti-ante, auntie-anti, anti-Audi, pretty much anti-Obama across the board.  And he still lost his base.  BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Enjoy the Purity Purge now, boys!

Cantor's the Majority Leader, pretty much the Second-in-Command of the House behind Speaker Boehner, essentially one of the key players who was keeping Boehner's ass protected by the wingnuts decrying Boehner's unwillingness to pursue a more hardened "Impeach Obama With Any Excuse" (for all his opposition and obstruction, Boehner genuinely wanted to get things done: after all, a Speaker's reputation stands on the things done under his/her watch).

That's the public stance, by the way.  Cantor's also one of the backroom players who keeps, uh kept, stoking the grumbling ire of the Far Right back-benchers as part of a long game towards making himself Speaker whenever Boehner falls.  It seems as though Cantor's falling first...

Cantor's losing tonight, by the by, because he wasn't hard enough being anti-immigration.  His opponent Dave Brat (I'm a minor self-published writer, even I don't go out of my way to name my characters so blatantly... somewhere Charles Dickens is spinning in his tomb) went after Cantor's occasional attempts to push an immigration reform bill that included "amnesty" - a wingnut no-no - as a sign of Cantor's failure to represent true Republican dogma.  As Joan Walsh notes:

...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... Brat had accused Cantor of shoving immigration reform down the party’s throat – why is the right 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...
...But it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. Cantor is another conscience-free Republican leader who courted the Tea Party when it seemed politically advantageous and then tried to run from it when it was clear it was going to bite him in the ass...

The chatter about a GOP Civil War is bound to go major coverage on the blogs and political talk shows for the next few days.  Deal is, it's not really much of a Civil War as it is a shift between the Establishment Republicans who want to wield their political might for their own ends and the Radical (Tea Party) Republicans who want to use that political power to truly achieve their destructive "kill the government" agenda.  Either way, the conservatives - and their deep-pocket uber-rich overlords - win because they share the same true agenda - massive tax cuts and the shredding of the social safety net - that remains on the table.

What's really happening here is the increase in the voting base outrage and anger - some of which is expressed through the scary increase in gun violence the last few weeks - which is not getting mollified or controlled by a party leadership starting to show signs of losing touch with its own base.

This is the scary part of tonight's results: the growing possibility that the Republicans are going to not only field more radical candidates coming out of the primaries this midterms, but also the now-certainty that the Republicans are going to pursue a radical Far Right agenda in order to appease that angry base regardless of being Establishment-types or Radicals themselves.  For the voters to willingly turn against an incumbent with massive political power - almost unheard of in this era of incumbency entrenchment - is a huge blow, a terrifying reminder to those other incumbents that their own political survival is at stake.  The talk right now is how the immigration reform efforts are dead in the water (again) and how the existing House leadership is going to outdo each other in the "Wingnut Purity" contests to keep their own asses safe (meaning the likelihood of seeing an Obama impeachment before the 4th of July).  "Bipartisanship" is now going to be a dirtier word than "Twerking".  ...what the hell is "twerking" anyway...

The other scary realization is how more dangerous the election results this November are going to get.  Like it or not, we're in an electoral process of a winner-take-all zero-sum system between two major parties (Rep or Dem).  Given the obscene gerrymandering of "safe" districts, the possibility of a crazed radical candidate - someone spouting a lot of anti-rape rhetoric for example - getting elected to an office where he/she can cause major damage is high.  In a Senate race where a whole state - which diminishes the strength of a radical voting base in a sea of more moderate voters - could get repelled by an uncaring or unthinking candidate (as we've seen with Todd Akin), the risk is less: in a House race where a radical voting base is in the majority, the risk is serious.

The only thing lessening the risk of a wingnut getting elected is the possibility - even in a hard Far Right district - that Brat will do something so offensive during his victory lap between now and November that even the Far Right voters will go "oh God, we voted for THAT idiot?"  Sadly, the only offensive thing I think Brat can do is say something stupid like this portion of the sentence has been filtered by the Decency Board, who would like to point out that what is being described here not only violates the Laws of God but also violates the Laws of Biology, Physics, and Field Hockey.

While there is a Democratic challenger Jack Trammel in that district - someone from the same college where Brat teaches - there is no certainty that Trammel can win over enough voters: the 7th District went heavily for Romney in 2012 and given the rancor the Republican voters are feeling in that district they're bound to keep that enthusiasm well into November.  It wouldn't hurt, and indeed might help, to send Trammel all the support that can get mustered: in some ways, this seat is up for grabs (losing the incumbent weakens the party's hold on it).

There are more primaries on the way: more possible challenges by Tea Party types versus Establishment Republicans now shaking in their faux cowboy boots.  The Peak Wingnut that John Cole worries about has yet to hit its limit.

God help us.

P.S. Don't Vote Republican.

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