Yesterday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost the Republican primary in his district in Virginia. It’s the first time since 1899 that a sitting House majority leader lost reelection, and probably the firs time ever it was because of a primary. That’s mostly because primaries as the democratic vehicles we know them as us a relatively new invention of the past few decades.
So, you’d think with such a newsy event that seems historical, there would be a lot to write about it. What lessons have we learned? How does this “titanic” political shift change the landscape? OMG WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR 2016?
Why did Cantor lose? He did not receive as many votes as his challenger, college professor Dave Brat. That’s really all we know. Sure, it looks like Cantor ran a pretty lackluster campaign. His district was recently re-gerrymandered to make it even more conservative, and therefore theoretically safer, but that may have had something to do with it. Truth is, in low-turnout strong-party primaries, there really isn’t much there there. Maybe three guys cared about “amnesty,” four ladies thought he looked like a douchebag, and another guy “heard” that he was a secret Muslin. That’s the election, folks.
Now, how does this tectonic event change the political landscape? Well, I guess Republicans have got to find a new majority leader.
Wait, that’s it? Yes. Look, everybody was all scared that Senator Lindsay Graham was going to suffer a strong tea-party challenge, but that never happened. These local events are local. There’s just no evidence that this “tea party back on the move” thing has any legs.
But! Immigration reform is now dead, right? Seriously, immigration was dead six years ago when a black Democrat was elected president, for the same reason that tax reform is dead, cap and trade is dead, unemployment insurance extensions are dead, job-creating bills are dead. Everything is dead, and the Republicans in congress made sure of that, even before the tea party happened. Rep. Cantor was not ever, ever, ever going to make immigration happen.
There, I wrote 354 words about what Cantor’s loss means. Thanks for stopping by.
A second quality advertisement today comes from Will Brooke, who is running in Alabama for the Republican nomination for the Senate race. Invoking the Second Amendment, he gets in his truck, taking a print-out of the Affordable Care act with him out to where he can shoot it with a handgun, a rifle, and finally in super-dramatic-slow-mo an assault rifle (that music!), before eventually putting the whole deal through a Will-Brooke-branded shredder.
However, this is such a rip-off of Sen. Joe Manchin’s campaign ad from 2010:
Oh, man, it’s finally that time in the political cycle where we get back to some quality advertisements. Here we have Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa who is running for the Senate. In this spot, she basically says that she knows how to castrate pigs, so she’ll know how to stop spending, all while we hear the squeals of pigs in the background. It’s all kinds of creepy. Enjoy.
And she was just endorsed by none other than the Killa from Wasilla.
Noted this morning in the Morning Constitutional:
“We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion,” said State Sen. Jake Knotts, of South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley. Knotts backs Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer in a four-way Republican primary race.
Today, Knotts “apologized.” By “apologized,” of course, I mean, he’s sorry nobody got the joke:
Unfortunately, the show was not recorded as was intended. If it had been recorded, the public would be able to hear firsthand that my “raghead” comments about Obama and Haley were intended in jest. Bear in mind that this is a freewheeling, anything-goes Internet radio show that is broadcast from a pub. It’s like local political version of Saturday Night Live, which is actually where the joke came from.
Since my intended humorous context was lost in translation, I apologize.
I still believe Ms. Haley is pretending to be someone she is not, much as Obama did, but I apologize to both for an unintended slur.
So, excellent. Now we know, it’s totally fine to call people ethnic slurs, just as long as everybody knows you’re joking.
Maybe we should actually listen to this Saturday Night Live sketch: “Please refrain from using ethnic slurs.”
There are several pretty important party primaries (and one special election) tomorrow around the country. Well, not important insofar as they’ll have any real impact, but important because they’ll guide the narrative leading to election day in November. Each party will see what messages worked, where the mood of the country is and is heading, and, probably less importantly, how big of a role the tea partiers can have in the election.
I’ve been paying attention to most of the races since at least earlier this year, if not earlier, and have seen a stupid amount of polling data about most of them. So, below are some thoughts and predictions of what might just happen tomorrow. Sure, perhaps I wasn’t 100% correct with my predictions on the U.K. election but: a. I don’t live there, and b. nobody bats 1.000.
I’m starting with Arkansas because, to me at least, it’s the most interesting. In the primary to decide the Democratic candidate for the Senate, the incumbent, Senator Blanche Lincoln is being challenged by Lt. Governor Bill Halter from the left. Up this point, over her two terms in office, she’s been used to being attacked for being too liberal for her state. What’s surprising, really, is the strength of a challenger from the left. Halter’s currently polling seven points down, but he could force Lincoln into a runoff (conservative businessman D.C. Morrison is pulling just enough to make it close). Granted, Halter’s been supported by DailyKos, FireDogLake and their kin, and money has been rolling in.
I don’t think Halter will be able to pull off the upset, and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing for Democrats. While the bulk of Democrats may personally agree with Halter far more frequently often than Lincoln (and her new-found populism may be a little short-sighted and misguided), it is important for the Democratic Party to have conservative Southern voices. Diversity of opinion makes for a more dynamic party. With Lincoln, Nelson, Pryor, etc., in the party, the Democrats are able to keep themselves relevant in a quite diverse society. They cannot maintain that credential if they purge opposing views out of the party. Compare the two parties: Which seems to actually have a future? Which is more comfortable in any state they run in or govern? In order to not become stagnant, the strong base voices must be grounded by the center.
The Republicans have, for the most part, buttressed themselves in the South. They will never become relevant again unless they can find purchase elsewhere. On the flip side of that, Democrats will lose their dynamism and appeal if they cannot win elections in the South and properly represent Southern and centrist (even conservative) voices. For this reason, Lincoln is an important member of the Democratic party and should not be forced out for her centrism, as much as it may frustrate progressives. Progressive policies cannot be achieved if the very foundation of progressive thought: respect for rational debate and opposing views, is corrupted in the name of ideology.