Congratulations to Eric Cantor On His Upcoming Job as Lobbyist

I mean, yes, he wanted to be Speaker of the House one day, but you actually have win your primary elections to do that, and Eric Cantor didn’t. So, a-lobbying he will go, almost certainly.

Much is being written about the meaning of Cantor’s defeat at the hands of an unheralded primary challenger, but to the extent that I know anything about this particular election — which means what I’ve read since roughly nine pm last night — it appears that Cantor’s challenger David Brat won without a lot of money or indeed any real help from any group at all. Which suggests that Brat won the old fashioned way, i.e., by being the candidate the voters who went to the polls actually and natively preferred (or at least preferred over Cantor). Conversely, it seems that Cantor was so busy planning for his next job that he was forgetting to do his current job, at least to the pleasure of his primary voters.

If that’s indeed the case, then what we have here is a vote decided on job performance, where money and outside influence was not a hugely mitigating factor. In which case, party on, Republican primary voters of Virginia’s 7th district. You did what you were supposed to do.

Mind you, I’m not personally deeply thrilled with their choice of Mr. Brat, whose positions as I’ve read them seem primarily tuned for conservative populist stupidity. But then, I wasn’t deeply thrilled with Mr. Cantor’s positions and actions, either, which were also tuned for conservative populist stupidity, with a saucy soupçon of grasping, amoral personal opportunism thrown in for flavoring. But I’m not in the Virginia 7th, so literally, my vote doesn’t count. I suppose I could get worked up about the House and the GOP moving ever so marginally further to the right because of this, presuming Mr. Brat wins the general election (which seems a reasonable bet to me), but given that that for the past four years the House GOP’s strategy has been “oppose everything, do nothing,” from a practical point of view I’m not sure there will be that much of a difference in how things work in that wing of Congress. So.

Anyway, don’t cry for Cantor. K Street awaits. He’ll be fine.

116 thoughts on “Congratulations to Eric Cantor On His Upcoming Job as Lobbyist

  1. At least a few of the tweets I saw last night claimed Cantor lost partly because Virginia has open primaries and Democrats turned out to vote for his opponent. If that’s true I can only assume they did so in hopes that Brat would be so extreme that even people who elected Cantor wouldn’t vote for Brat in the election. Personally I hope the strategy doesn’t bite them in the ass.

    Cantor may have just proved Mencken wrong: “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

  2. Interestingly Mr. Brat’s Democratic opponent is also a professor at Randolph & Macon College. I bet that’s going to make for an interesting fall semester. :)

  3. I keep thinking of Abercrombie’s THE HEROES, and that we’ve traded one bad choice for an even worse one. This will make intransigent Republicans doubly so

  4. One report this morning over at yahoo.com news says that in the open primary many Democratic voters chose to vote in the Republican primary for Brat. Come November they may well not vote for Brat, and he will never be seated in the House of Representatives. Likely outcome, in my view. What is disturbing are reports that Cantor was defeated because he would provide a pathway for citizenship to our present population of undocumented residents. When will everyday citizens of this nation get over hating on people who came here for a better life and couldn’t cope with years of waiting in line for the proper paperwork. Just this week the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that dependent children of undocumented workers who age out to 21 after years of waiting, must go to the back of the wait list. This is all crazy. Get those people documented, assigned social security numbers, and paying Federal income taxes and all the other taxes the rest of us pay. Make them productive citizens. And Cantor may have lost because he leaned toward this common sense solution to the issue?

  5. I keep hoping that since the 7th district has a small part of Richmond, that there’ll be more Democratic turnout than you’d expect. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case for the past 40 years, so something tells me that Mr. Brat has a good shot at winning the seat.

    From what I’ve seen, there was an extremely low turnout (about 9%), and I doubt that there was much mischief voting going on. Even the hardline Democrats I knew back in Virginia (including myself) wouldn’t chance voting for a Tea Party candidate in the small hopes of him losing in a mostly Republican district.

  6. Here in Virginia, we have every hope the Louisa County Earthquakes are at an end. For the last few years, our working theory has been we’ve had one every time Mr. Cantor opened the Hell Mouth to visit his real consituents.

  7. I’m delighted that some of his issues are also issues of mine. Being against crony capitalism, being against foreign wars, being against the surveillance state are issues that I hope dominate. (Surveillance should go the other way around). No political platform is 100% right or 100% wrong unless we stop thinking for ourselves, and let the party do our thinking. Of course, there are other issues where he needs to look at the real world and see what actually works (for everybody).

  8. I followed it a bit in the run up. It looked like Cantor was upset that the GOP in Virginia wasn’t going to toe the line the way he like, so he planned to wrest control forcefully. The results of the primary suggest they didn’t take kindly to that and poured all their support into the other guy to spite him. A lot of hay is being made about Cantor’s views on immigration but I doubt that’s the primary cause.

  9. Now, it’s not an immediate job turnover. He has to wait a year, so it gives him time to vacation with the family, have a book ghostwritten and raise funds for other. Then he can go into lobbying.

    Or, if he doesn’t want to wait, there are many non-profit issue groups and think tanks waiting for him with very large salaries.

    Eric Cantor will be just fine. Weep not for him.

  10. What I find most interesting about this was how ludicrously wrong those polls were. Error margins of more than 40 points, as someone above pointed out. Teenagers doing a poll as a class project could have gotten more accurate results than PAID PROFESSIONAL pollsters did here. You’d -think- this would be the END of those polling companies, for goodness sake… but I have a feeling they’ll nonetheless have tons of business this election year.

  11. Like many, I’ve heard that Dems turned out to vote in the primary. I hope Brat doesn’t actually get elected, if that’s the case. I thought George W. Bush was too blatantly stupid to win (apologies to anyone who gets offended, but that’s genuinely what I believed at the time), but look at what happened.

    Maybe it was Cantor’s views on immigration, but he also seemed genuinely unlikable (see George W. Bush for how likability matters), which probably didn’t help.

  12. John,
    I take issue with your labeling of Brat as “further to the right” than Cantor. Immigration is the issue getting the most play, and Brat did expressly oppose Cantor’s perceived support for amnesty. BUT, Brat’s opposition to amnesty was also expressly anti-corporate, and many of his writings and statements express anti-corporate/anti-cronyism sentiments. Brat’s position is that amnesty rewards illegal immigration, lowers wages for American citizens and legal residents, and only benefits the corporate elite. While restrictive immigration policies are generally associated with “the right” in America (except for unions, who also do not generally favor open immigration), the story isn’t as simplistic as “conservative populist stupidity.”

    Also, while Brat is a conservative and a Christian (not sure if he’s a Conservative Christian), he’s criticized the American right for trying to impose morality through law. I don’t know where he stands on gay marriage, or the federal government’s role in that debate, but he seems to come from a live and let live perspective.

    Anyway, the story is a little more complicated than some yokel ultra-conservative beating a moderate Republican by riding a wave of reactionary sentiment. Plus, if you’re going to have a conservative win the 7th (and you will likely have that every two years given the makeup of the district), an economics professor who opposes corporate influence in government in favor of the middle class and small businesses should be more palatable to a liberal-leaning person than Mr. Cantor.

  13. One of the reforms I would like to see is barring people who work in government from becoming a lobbyist for at least 4 years, or failing that taxing their income at some high rate (like 90%).

    Other than that, let the voters decide. And if party voters want to stay home on primary day and let only the most extreme have their way, well thats their choice as well. One I don’t agree with but hey, that’s just me. (This is for both parties). But don’t then complain that Congress can’t get anything done, because you all helped make that happen.

    I will have to take exception with that statement that the House has done nothing over the past few years though. They have actually produced quite a bit. Most of their work however is sitting in Harry Reid’s in-box. At the bottom of the pile.

    But hey, he’s the people’s choice as well….

  14. Ken, Vox.com is reporting that Brat’s academic program (which he chairs) is underwritten and funded by BB&T. That’s pretty much the apotheosis of pro-corporate and cronyism.

  15. Adam,
    As I understand the program, it was founded by and is supported by BB&T’s CEO as an individual, and is not supported by the bank itself. I may be wrong on that, I don’t have the time to check. But, according to Vox, the program has an expressly free-market focus, and includes teaching Randian thought. Far from being the “definition” of corporate cronyism, this kind of program is actually expressly against corporate influence in government. You’ll recall that Atlas Shrugged, for example, has a ton of corporate villains who use the power of the state to benefit business and muscle out upstarts.

    Brat’s campaign does not appear to be funded by BB&T or any other big corporate interests. Cantor, on the other hand, has very close relations with big business.

    Now, I bet you believe that Brat’s ideology or beliefs will support big business over the little guy. That very well may be. But, Brat is not part of the entrenched political class that works hand-in-hand with lobbyist and corporations to craft federal laws and regulations that make it very difficult to start and run new businesses.

  16. So Congress polls at <9% popularity. Cantor has been the #2 to Mitch McConnell in engineering the complete opposition strategy and legislative agenda that has led to this low approval rating. Now every pundit, reporter, political adviser, and talking head out there is SHOCKED that one of the guys who has done the most to make people hate Congress gets fired from Congress by the people who hate Congress.

    Basically the people who tell us about politics are real dumb.

  17. Re: Brat’s Christian conservative, here’s a quote from his website:

    “Dave understands that the most important factor in our nation’s success is the strength of the family unit. As our congressman,

    Dave will protect the rights of the unborn and the sanctity of marriage, and will oppose any governmental intrusion upon the conscience of people of faith.”

    I’d say there are a couple of coded references there, yeah.

    http://davebratforcongress.com/protecting-values/

  18. Ken — Add the word “yet” to the end of your final sentence, and I’ll buy it. Not having been a part of the political class at all, he hasn’t had the opportunity, but everything suggests he’ll be leaping at it to me.

  19. One Right Wing Traitor down – and another, like HYRDA, rises to take its place.

    Still, the schadenfreude of Cantor getting his balls cut off? Priceless. :)

  20. ‘Brat’s position is that amnesty rewards illegal immigration, lowers wages for American citizens and legal residents, and only benefits the corporate elite. While restrictive immigration policies are generally associated with “the right” in America (except for unions, who also do not generally favor open immigration), the story isn’t as simplistic as “conservative populist stupidity.”’

    Conservative economic stupidity, then. There are a heck of a lot of (likely unfounded) assumptions in that line of reasoning.

  21. Here’s a totally apolitical comment: Are those really prescription glasses or does Mr. Cantor wear glasses to make him look like more of an intellectual? Just wondering.

  22. Cecilykane,
    Just because you disagree with something doesn’t make it stupid. I, for one, favor open borders and immigration, and am thus on the other side of this issue from Brat. But, I hate the blithe attempt to label his position as “populist stupidity” the same way I hate it when Elizabeth Warren’s positions are labeled as “socialist stupidity.”

  23. I think of greater concern to me is not that he was possibly shot down because of immigration, but because he may have been shot down because of his apparent willingness to consider the possibility to maybe compromise a little bit with THE ENEMY.

    One of the ways that a plural democracy works is that there are compromises that can be made. Not every issue is YES or NO — there are lots of rest-stops on the bidirectional “slippery slope” that issues seem to be perceived as. There are compromises, accomodations, agreements that can be made. There are lots of issues that I see as cut and dried, but I’m not a majority view in this country. If the right wing of Congress is digging in their heels and becoming increasingly unwilling to negotiate and compromise, then… well, we have some real problems ahead of us.

  24. I have heard that various right-wing radio and TV personalities gave a lot of free publicity to Brat. Whether that publicity counts as “grassroots” or not I leave as an exercise for the reader.

  25. “Just because you disagree with something doesn’t make it stupid.”

    It’s not that I disagree; I neither agree nor disagree. It’s that it is a claim for which there is no evidence. Evidence would require a hefty economic study. And even the line of reasoning here is based upon premises for which there is also no evidence — starting with the idea that naturalized citizens would accept lower wages. Oh, and that small and medium-sized businesses wouldn’t hire naturalized citizens and benefit from an expansion in the labor pool. Oh, and that the status quo, in which undocumented workers are not being offered benefits or paying income/FICA/SS taxes (and that their employers aren’t either in those latter examples) DOESN’T benefit the “corporate elite.”

  26. (1) I very much like what Michael J. Martineck wrote:
    “…love the fact that the generally anti-science Republican pollsters were off by a swing of 44 points. That’s tough to do.”

    (2) “Numbers don’t lie, but liars use numbers.”

    (3) JFK had an assembly of scientists at a White House dinner, and a reporter noted: “This was the greatest collection of scientists ever in the White House, since Jefferson dined alone.”

  27. onibabamama,
    It’s my impression that George W. Bush actually lost the 2000 election by any fair reckoning of either the popular or the electoral vote. He won by a single judicial vote which had nothing to do with his intelligence, only his party.

  28. to those that say “be careful what you wish for” is that Brat not the “devil you know” . If Brat wins in November – (which IMHO is likely) he will not become the majority leader of the house- he will be a freshman with very little power or influence. Cantor leaving with any random person taking his place is a dramatic blow to the GOP establishment.

    As for November, Virginia is a “purple” state, but Cantor’s district is gerrymandered firmly RED- the seat going democratic IMHO is less likely than Cantor winning back his seat as a write in candidate (no please no)

  29. “One report this morning over at yahoo.com news says that in the open primary many Democratic voters chose to vote in the Republican primary for Brat.”

    This spoil fear crops up regularly and nobody has ever managed to find any indication that it’s a real thing. With a turnout of under 75,000 it wouldn’t take a lot of folks to shift a result, but the far more obvious explanation here is that Cantor had just failed to stay connected to his constituents and there was an energized group of people who didn’t like him.

    You need look no further than last month’s news reports about Cantor’s buddy being ousted from the local Republican chair position. A lot of irritated people felt like Cantor was ignoring them and not representing them and they moved the votes by talking to their fellow citizens.

    Combine that with the fact that Cantor just wasn’t all that well loved to begin with and has been in a slide. In 2008 he out-performed McCain in his district, pulling 63% to McCain’s 53%. In 2010, a year with more republican turnout, he’s down to 59%. In 2012 he’s down another point and only out-performs Romney by 2 points in his district.

    tl:dr: Cantor was gaining national attention but not managing to keep up affection at home. No one vote/position or 8,000 democrats in his district came out to sink his ship. He did it to himself.

  30. Assuming Brat wins the election in November (and that is likely given the makeup of his district), what most concerns me is his connection with the Tea Party. It has been their practice to refuse to consider compromise on any issue. That is not how government works in this country. The current intransigence of the Tea Party and the fear the Tea Party engenders among other Republicans has resulted in a Congress that continually votes for legislation that will never get through the Senate or past the President, a Senate that passes legislation that will never be approved by the House and a President who is left with no option but to govern by fiat. That is not a return to the intentions of the Founding Fathers. That is a collapsing government. The Founders created a system that encourages negotiation and compromise. If Brat’s win is a sign of further Tea Party control of the Republican Party, I fear for the future of this country.

  31. SO what this really dos is solidify the GOP as 100% anti-amnesty, which writes off any chance of significantly growing the non-white-heterosexual-duded-and-supporting-dudette vote

    The GOP is in essence, the white people party. And that’s what’s going to bring them down in flames. Republicans here will tell you all about the “plantation mentality”, hop that opposition to non-heterosexual marriage will convert Catholic Latinos, etc…

    But the reality on the ground is that Republicans depend on white voters, and write off non-whites. Republicans in power have been warning about this being a problem the same way that scientists are warning about global warming.

    It’s a sign of how hardcore Republicans think that they’re not only opposed to ideas about global warming for pure ideological reasons, but they’re opposed to thinking about the imminent shift in demographics tanking their party for the same reasons.

    Cantor’s political demise is a sign of this. Ideological purity is more important than longevity as a political force.

  32. “but Cantor’s district is gerrymandered firmly RED”

    It’s an interesting question how this will go. As I said above, Cantor has been winning by diminishing margins. In 2012 there were 390,000 votes in that district for President and 381,000 for the Rep seat. 222,983 for Cantor and 222,915 for Romney, but 158,012 for Powell, Cantor’s opponent and 163,331 for Obama.

    The presidential race in VA had several more candidates on the list, and a Libertarian and a “Constitution Party” person diverted 4,000 votes. But it sure doesn’t look like they diverted them from Romney in that district, does it?

    So with this primary decided by all of 65,000 votes – almost exactly the gap between Powell and Cantor in 2012 – what happens when ALL the voters show up? Do those 28,000 Cantor voters hold their nose and vote Brat or do they stay home? Do the local dems get engaged and show up in 2012 numbers and throw 150,000 votes at Trammell or do the 80,000 hard-cores who votes in 2010 show up? 2010 only pulled in 138,209 republican votes for Cantor, so Trammell could win just by having his base energized and Cantor’s dejected.

    I’d think that exceptionally unlikely but I’ll give it some chance since Cantor’s loss comes on the heels of a Republican chair turnover in that district from the same forces. And the old group was great at raising money. The new one… great at ideological purity.

    I’d call this a long-shot but not impossible.

  33. At what point did supporting our Constitution (and thereby Constitutionally limited government) become “stupid”?

  34. Cantor also has the option of running a write-in campaign. Otherwise known as the “hard, humiliating way,”

    It doesn’t seem likely, but it could happen.

  35. @Dann, well I’d say since 1775, but then being British I would say that, wouldn’t I? /jk

  36. But the reality on the ground is that Republicans depend on white voters, and write off non-whites.

    They want non-white votes, they just don’t want to do anything to get them. The general tone at the various Republican confabs is that some votes are lost (Mitt’s “47%”) and the others just need to have it explained to them how they should join the Republican party. The problem is, the stance is always a paternalistic, non-compromising one. There is little or no anticipation of capitulation, just exasperation that various minorities don’t understand why the GOP can help them.

    Say what you want about Christie, he has had a very successful outreach to Latino voters in his state. But to do so, he needed to meet them halfway on some issues, even while embracing them on others they both agreed upon. The problem the GOP currently faces is that there is a solid ‘love us or leave us’ approach that has taken root and is costing them dearly.

  37. I tend to like Charles Pierce’s take http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/The_Friends_Of_Dave_Brat

    Looks like his main backer is the usual self-made man, i.e. dug out of his own hole by TARP/government assistance..

    Interesting Cantor lost, but he was so transparently self-serving and seeking promotion, that even his constituents upchucked.

    There is a small possibility the seat goes Dem – remember gerrymandering is the skill of taking a population that is 50:50, giving your opponent seats where the split is 90:10, and getting yours to 55:45 – i.e. maximizing the number of seats you can take with 50%+1 of the vote. So Brat may be vulnerable. We’ll see.

    Yertle the Turtle is still in trouble in KY, which is the one I really want to see.

    Yes, there are lots of bills in the Senate inbox, none of which are anywhere close to being able to pass.

    Chris

  38. As noted by Ed Kilgore at the Washington Monthly blog, “Among the many shocking things about Eric Cantor’s defeat yesterday, the one that shocked me most is the realization that he is currently the only publicly-identified non-Christian Republican in Congress.” So pretty soon there likely won’t be any, at least for a while. I don’t know enough to say that anti-Jewish prejudice in the Virginia 7th district (recently gerrymandered supposedly to Cantor’s advantage) could have been a factor yesterday, but nonetheless the Republican party that once included the likes of senators Jacob Javits, Rudy Boschwitz (Minnesota), and Arlen Specter is clearly long gone.

  39. I believe there’s a two year cooling off period for Members of Congress to become registered lobbyists. But he can become a “strategic advisor” immediately. Professional talking head is another possible career path.

    I’m very curious to see what happens to the Republican leadership in the House. Seems likely that they’ll tilt even further to the right; with Mr. Cantor leaving his role (if not his seat) at the end of July, I think that we might see another government shutdown at the end of the current fiscal year (end of September) as a newly emboldened far right wing flexes it’s muscle.

  40. Actually, BB&T did not want to take the TARP funds. Allison was told he had to otherwise the appearance would be that the the banks taking the funds were the ones in trouble, which would cause a run, causing future problems. Furthermore, if BB&T didn’t accept the funds, the regulatory rules would be changed so he would be forced to take it. Why else would a bank that never issued a subprime loan take TARP funds? And be one of the first to pay them back in full?

  41. I’m of the opinion that Brat’s win is a long-term win for the Democrats. I realize that Brat is likely to win in the general election, but he sounds like the type of guy to spout quotes that will be embarrassing to the GOP. That gives the Dems more fodder for the 2016 presidental election.

  42. So I’ve read and heard two theories: 1) It’s the Amnesty issue; and 2) Cantor’s district resented him, didn’t like him and he ran a shoddy campaign.

    So, a takeaway could be, “Don’t take the people who hired you for granted.”

  43. I think, the more I’m reading, the “Cantor’s district resented him” option’s looking to be more likely, it’s just getting less play than the Amnesty one because national pundits and journalists like easier narratives. Tying the loss entirely to a Washington debate they’re comfortable discussing is a lot easier than going county-by-county in one VA district to understand if other factors contributed.

    Regardless of how thin the possibility may be, I really hope the Democrats put some effort into this seat, if only to force Republicans to do so as well. Before this, Cantor was going to run unopposed in the November election, which would mean having to spend very little on him, and therefore more in closer races. Juicing Trammell’s campaign not only means possibly grabbing a House seat not currently occupied by an incumbent, but also opening opportunities in other races.

  44. @ Don Whiteside: “the far more obvious explanation here is that Cantor had just failed to stay connected to his constituents and there was an energized group of people who didn’t like him.”

    I agree. I read figures this morning about Cantor’s vote count in his last primary compared to this one, and his total was -thousands- lower this time (I think it was 8,000?), even though there was a bigger turnout. That is, lots of people who voted for him in the previous primary did not vote for him this time.

    Surely it’s not a huge stretch to suppose that a bunch of them voted for Brat this time? This seems a likelier explanation than the upset being due to a Democrat conspiracy to replace Cantor with Brat in the primary. Either that, or what? Democrats killed off 8,000 conservative voters in that district and no one has noticed? 8,000 voters stayed home because Eric Cantor meant so much to them that, in each case, if they chose not to vote for him, then they didn’t want to vote at all? Pffft.

  45. So, a takeaway could be, “Don’t take the people who hired you for granted.”

    I think that’s a lesson that’s applicable anywhere. Constituency service is kinda important for an elected official. They could be hypocrites or ideologues, but if they take care of their voters, politicians are gonna get re-elected.

  46. I’m not sure about the ‘Cantor was a careerist’ thing, if his opponent got a gig proving how moral Ayn Rand is in a Christian context. And is it, as they say, not politically correct to ask if the candidates’ personal religious allegiances played a part?

    But mainly I’m pleased that if he wins (which he will) and swiftly gets his own mini-caucus they will be called The Brat Pack.

  47. Cantor got complacent; gambled on his inertia and name recognition and lost. There are those who can and those who Cantor :)

    …sorry, couldn’t resist.

    At least it shows a majority of the 7th’s voting republican constituents don’t just vote on name recognition. One strategy that has worked pretty well for GOP contenders these past few years has been to cast opponents who don’t press the flesh enough as detached elitists, not that this is a new tactic in politics. I see it is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it does force congresscritters to spend a little time down among us unwashed masses, but it also feeds the perpetual campaign culture. On the gripping hand, most don’t seem to be able to tear themselves away from the camera even when they’re in the Capital, so maybe it doesn’t make any difference. At least time spent putting on their show is time away from accepting favors and bribes.

  48. Gulliver, the perpetual campaign culture is already here. Nonstop fund-raising is the main result. If candidates get scared into spending more time in their districts talking to (and, ideally, learning things from) their constituents, I think that’s a good thing. Campaigning that involves showing up and making the effort to say, “This is what I do for you” and to ask, “What is it that you actually want?” is at least somewhat substantive campaigning. The fund-raising is just gimme gimme gimme all the time and, except for the big-money donors (who may or may not get some quid pro quo), is a one-way street.

    Not that I expect a great many career pols to be able to resist using press-the-flesh events for photo ops instead of educating themselves.

  49. The other theory I’ve heard posited is that most of his supporters figured he couldn’t lose, was winning by a wide margin, etc., and they simply didn’t show up to vote in the primary. Crazy things can happen in low voter-turnout elections.

    According to news reports, Cantor is stepping aside from the Majority Leader position on July 31, and Republicans are planning a caucus vote for June 19 to determine his replacement.

  50. It appears that conservative Talk Radio played a part: Glenn Beck and anti-immigration B-listers like Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin were particularly supportive and gave Brat considerable air time as well as support through social media and a GOTV drive.

  51. The pollsters are clearly incompetent. If large numbers of Democrats crossed over, why didn’t they poll Democratic likely voters and ask them if they planned to cross over? Idiots.

    More likely they were mostly push-polling and putting out results to make the “vote with the majority” people vote for Cantor.

    I saw a news report earlier (didn’t read it, just saw the blurb) where a Republican pollster supposedly “admitted” that Republican pollsters suck (scare quotes because I think he was lying). Well, no, they suck at what they’re pretending to do, which is predict the outcome of elections. What they’re really trying to do, ISTM, is influence the outcome of elections. How good they are at that is harder to determine.

    John Casey: Probably WILL be a tragedy.

  52. Can we pass an amendment that for every year a politician holds office they must do actual public service on the front line (building houses for Habitat, doing dishes at a soup kitchen, etc) for a year *immediately* after the get out of office? Serve 4 years, work 4 years in service. Not only does this remove people who don’t give a damn from running for public office, it insures that they won’t come out a lobbyists.

  53. As a person in VA’s 7th district, I think it was more that the people who voted were Tea Partiers. The non-TP’s did not bother to go out and vote because they were overconfident, or had lost faith in Cantor.

    There were Tea Party meetings in the months leading up to the election, and one would assume they were promoting Mr. Brat, and if anyone did go to those meetings, they most certainly voted. I saw no signs for pro-Cantor meetings, so I would assume that they simply couldn’t be bothered.

    It is the hope of myself and the people who live nearby that Mr. Brat loses to the Democratic nominee, Mr. Trammell. Mr. Brat is a very outspoken anti-liberal person whose views on many social issues unsettle most of us. I do live in Hanover, the most conservative county, but I do not believe that my neighbors will vote for Mr. Brat. Many of them voted for Cantor in the past because he was the only well-known candidate.

    Cantor has been voted out, and rightly so. He ignored us, and when he showed up to speak at functions, such as Model Congresses held by the local high schools, he was cold and avoided any question that did not obviously promote his stance.

  54. Xopher, a news report I read had pollsters explaining that their results were so wildly off because they had designed the polls to sample only Republicans who had previously voted (or perhaps voted in primaries–I’d have to go check), never thinking (apparently) that a better-designed poll would have included Republicans who considered themselves likely to vote in the primary, unlikely to vote, etc. Thus they missed entire groups of Republicans, and with the higher-than-expected turnout, a lot of the actual voters were in the non-sampled groups. Then, as you point out, there were Democrats who might have voted but were not polled. All in all, they made assumptions in designing the poll that were bad assumptions.

    You may be right that what they’re trying to do is influence the outcomes. I hadn’t thought of it that way.

  55. I’m not sure Cantor losing was a result of Democrats voting in an open primary against him – that would assume the local Democratic party was capable of organization, which, looking at the party in national terms, seems highly unlikely (apart from Obama’s fundraising mechanism, which is insanely good).

    I say that as a left-leaning person myself – in the UK I was basically a Conservative, but in US political terms, that party is somewhat to the left of the Democrats – there are no UK parties as right wing as the Republicans.

  56. Cantor lost because he is an arrogant, inside-the-beltway politician who has completely lost touch with his base. He was fund-raising in Washington for the RINO Party when he should have been out pressing the flesh with the Tea Party.

    I know most of the people here think the Tea Party ranks right up there with herpes as something you really don’t want to have to put a check mark next to, but the reality is that the Tea Party represents what the real conservatives want; smaller government, less-centralized government and lower taxes.

    His opponent seized on Cantor’s extremely unpopular (among conservatives) immigration stance and just kept beating him to death with it. Cantor absolutely ignored the express wishes of his own constituents and told them that it was their “biblical duty” to agree with him on immigration reform.

    He’s an arrogant ass, and every conservative I know is happy he’s gone. The voters served him up a saucy soup can of humble pie. (Bitter stuff, as I recall)

  57. Just a small side note, union positions on immigration have shifted fairly substantially since the 1990′s due to the SEIU Justice for Janitors campaign, and some of the work that HERE Local 17 did with Somali hotel workers. Most unions at this point support some sort of amnesty/legalization process much more radical than being proposed by congress or the president.

  58. Thanks for the long and hearty laugh!

    Given that members of both parties engage in unenlightened self interest, perhaps total immobilization is the best we can hope for. Since when push comes to shove, we the electorate usually get pushed and shoved aside for needs of the special interests.

  59. The downside is that gridlock is all but guaranteed through 2016. No Republican is going to want to appear willing to compromise because that will get you in the primaries. So immigration reform and a host of other issues will not be dealt with. This of course benefits Hillary who can now run a bulldozer of a campaign that shoves all Republicans into the crazy camp and makes her tent even bigger. Tea Party politics do not work on a national level and she knows that better than anyone. Expect a rout in 2016.

  60. I live near Dulles airport. Close enough to cantors district that voters called n. He pissed off his constituents. They didn’t like him. It was only 12 percent turnout, so he didn’t actually have to piss that many people off.

    Cantor can go work on k street with all the liberals who will lose in the fall. 6 th year of a presidency party out of power almost always picks up a lot of seats. Hope john congratulates them.

  61. Does Cantor’s loss after outspending Brat by a factor of 40 ($5M to $123K, per OpenSecrets.org) change anybody’s mind about the consequences of the Citizens United decision?

    Didn’t think so; just checking.

  62. No, Sally, because one low-turnout primary election doesn’t indicate an overall trend. Might scare some people, but it doesn’t change how money influences politics.

  63. @Xopher Halftongue and @ Not The Reddit Chris, it isn’t just the Kippers and BNP that are far right in the UK. Sadly the main Conservative party has thrown all caution to the winds and, with its policy of driving the disabled to suicide, the poor to starvation and foodbanks, the working poor to have zero hour contracts as standard and the no employment rights which go with that, and everyone under 30 to rent for the rest of their lives from 1%-er landlords, they have joined the US Republican party in ideology. They are even privatising the old NHS, which the media is strangely reluctant to talk about, and has even discussed privatising our child protective services. Any Brit who thinks that the UK is still to the left of the US is fooling themself. I wish we still were, but that is no longer the case.

  64. @Billy Quiets: “but the reality is that the Tea Party represents what the real conservatives want; smaller government, less-centralized government and lower taxes.

    If that was ALL the Tea Party wanted, I might be among them. The problem is that it isn’t the whole of their reality. When Brat says things like “Our fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness precede the existence of government and come from God, the Author of Nature.” as part of his platform, I shudder. He refers to universal health care as ‘the road to Serfdom’ and his only foreign policy statement is ‘I will investigate the Bengazhi attacks’.

    Most of the Tea Party candidates I’ve seen are willing to cut off the nation’s nose to spite it’s face. They are so dedicated to a specific idea and resistant to compromise that they will cripple the nation’s infrastructure if they don’t get their way (as we saw with the shutdown).

    It doesn’t help that there is no ‘Tea Party’. There are a bunch of Tea Party groups, each slightly different than the next. That makes it easy to paint them all with a broad brush, frankly.

  65. Cantor was also the last non-Christian Republican in either house of Congress. The GOP can stop pretending that “Judeo-Christian” has any meaning except as the long-form version of “Christian”.

  66. I’m a little curious about why Mr. Scalzi is commenting on this at all. As he himself admits, he doesn’t live in the district, he admits he doesn’t know much about the race and the candidates beyond a cursory look at the news, and he doesn’t even seem to think the outcome is tremendously significant.

    So why post this at all? Just an excuse to do a little Tea Party bashing and demonstrate your correct thoughts?

  67. John, as a representative of The Internet ©, ™, All Rights Reserved, Do Not Remove This Tag Under Penalty Of Law Without The Express Written Consent Of Major League Baseball, I hereby inform you that you are not allowed to express an opinion about an election result, ever, in perpetuity, because NEENEER NEENER NEENER or something, I dunno, I didn’t really read your post or any of the discussion that followed, I’m just here to kick hornets’ nests and eat burritos and I just ran out of the latter. *belch*

  68. Trimegistus:

    “I’m a little curious about why Mr. Scalzi is commenting on this at all.”

    You are clearly not aware of what this blog is called. I write about whatever I damn well feel like. If you don’t like it, don’t visit.

    I also find it interesting that you can claim it’s Tea Party bashing when the term “Tea Party” is not once used in the entry itself. It must be when you see the phrase “conservative populist stupidity,” your brain automatically translates it to “Tea Party.” Which is your karma, Trimegistus, not mine.

  69. Even the UKIP and the BNP aren’t quite as socially regressive as the Republicans – there is no serious effort to ban abortion in the UK, for instance. Their positions on immigration are about the same, granted.

    The UKIP is really just one charismatic drunk and a bunch of protest votes, the BNP is a fringe party, the Republicans have 49% of the country supporting policies which are as extreme.

    And I don’t believe the UK politicians are quite as firmly in the pocket of their paymasters as in the US.

    To be honest, that’s the second comment I’ve seen about the NHS in the last couple of days – I need to do some research. Are the Conservatives trying to lurch into the completely failed internal competition thing again? I thought there was something kicking around about single payer, but not competing insurers, which, as we see from the US, is a recipe for 2x the inputs and less efficient outputs.

  70. Wizardru, Have you ever complained that the liberals don’t compromise? When is the last time Harry “OMG the Koch Brothers are evil” Reid compromised with the conservatives? Compromise means both sides give in a little on their principles. It doesn’t mean only the Republicans give in.

    One of the big problems with our current situation is that Conservatives think Liberals are wrong, but Liberals think Conservatives are EVIL.

  71. Yeah, this is funny.

    Also, the fact that the Teabagger is named David BRAT??? Epic and priceless.

    Other than that, the only good thing about Cantor was that he was just sort of there. The new guy’s going to be loud and obnoxious and quite likely racist as well as sexist and homophobic. So we’re basically stuck with a complete asshole instead of a bought-and-paid-for weasel.

    I actually prefer Cantor, if only because he’s observably more intelligent than Louie Gohmert.

    (then again, there are things growing on the undersides of trees that are observably more intelligent than Louie Gohmert, but it’s SOMETHING not-entirely-hateable about Cantor.)

  72. Billy Quiets:

    “One of the big problems with our current situation is that Conservatives think Liberals are wrong, but Liberals think Conservatives are EVIL.”

    Yeah, no, Billy. Given that the modern version of painting one’s political opponents as “sick” and “evil” and “wrong” comes to us from the good graces of Newt Gingrich’s rhetorical playbook, you don’t get to make a statement like that here and have it taken at all seriously. It’s pot and kettle all the way down.

    With that said, let’s not get sidetracked into a “who thinks who is more evil” discussion, please.

  73. Well, he’s already been labeled a “sexist, racist, bigoted homophobic asshole” and that was just in the last ten minutes, so I think my point has some validity. But, anyway, here are the six points from Brat’s platform.

    “That the free enterprise system is the most productive supplier of human needs and economic justice,

    “That all individuals are entitled to equal rights, justice, and opportunities and should assume their responsibilities as citizens in a free society,

    “That fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all levels of government,

    “That the Federal Government must preserve individual liberty by observing Constitutional limitations,

    “That peace is best preserved through a strong national defense,

    “That faith in God, as recognized by our Founding Fathers is essential to the
    moral fiber of the Nation.”

    Doesn’t sound all that crazy to me, even though I don’t agree with his stand on faith.

  74. The problem is (a) the stuff you didn’t quote, Billy, and (b) the fact that most of what you said are code for populist conservative stuff.

    “That the Federal Government must preserve individual liberty by observing Constitutional limitations,

    Translation: No gun control of any sort. But anybody who tries something like putting up an atheist bench in protest of an unconstitutional Ten Commandments sculpture at a courthouse will be pilloried for not supporting “moral fiber”.

    “That the free enterprise system is the most productive supplier of human needs and economic justice,

    Translation: No regulation of any corporation for any reason. Also, lower taxes on the rich, again.

    And that’s just two of his points. To quote wizardru:

    When Brat says things like “Our fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness precede the existence of government and come from God, the Author of Nature.” as part of his platform, I shudder. He refers to universal health care as ‘the road to Serfdom’ and his only foreign policy statement is ‘I will investigate the Bengazhi attacks’.

    This is not the sort of man we need in our government.

    Quote from the Brat’s website:

    “Dave understands that the most important factor in our nation’s success is the strength of the family unit. As our congressman,Dave will protect the rights of the unborn and the sanctity of marriage, and will oppose any governmental intrusion upon the conscience of people of faith.”

    Translation: Abortion is banned. Marriage equality is out the window. Homophobes can do whatever they like and call it religion to get off scot-free. Same with racists. As long as you’re Christian (and likely Protestant Christian, at that), you can do whatever you like. Otherwise, you’re screwed.

    So yeah, he’s a sexist homophobic asshole and likely a racist on top of that.

    Nothing to like about the man at all. And DEFINITELY not a good person to have in charge of our laws.

  75. Billy Quiets:

    “so I think my point has some validity.”

    No it doesn’t. Making an extrapolation from a single comment from a Web site, from someone who is both very young and is consistently prone to rhetorical overheatedness, as Floored is (sorry Floored, but both of those things are true), does not a good argument construct.

    Again, let’s not go down this path of who thinks who is more evil. It’s not on point to this particular entry.

  76. We had one of those “dark horse” candidates here in Washington State. I’m speaking of Patty Murray, the “mom in tennis shoes,” who went on to a long and distinguished career in the US Senate. Where, actually, she is still serving.

    Oh, you thought I meant George Nethercutt, who defeated House Speaker Tom Foley in the general election. No, Nethercutt really didn’t do much of anything while he was in DC.

    My point is, we don’t know what Brat will do or not do if he wins the general election. Let’s trust the people of that district to choose wisely.

  77. @ Our Host:

    someone who is both very young and is consistently prone to rhetorical overheatedness, as Floored is (sorry Floored, but both of those things are true)

    No apology necessary, sir.

    Also, my apologies for continuing a line of discussion that you closed.

  78. Mr. Scalzi takes me to task for criticizing his Tea Party bashing. He insists he’s doing no such thing.

    Two or three comments later there’s someone bashing “Teabaggers” (nice use of a homophobic slur there, dudebro!) and hallucinating the Secret Hidden Code Meanings of what David Brat says, because apparently saying things like “I like freedom” or “I hate taxes” are always Secret Hidden Code Words. Mr. Scalzi isn’t bothered by that at all.

    So: Tea Party bashing is okay here. As is Making Shit Up to do so.

  79. If John will excuse the small excursion into UK politics:

    Not to belittle abortion and it’s importance, but there is a lot less between UKIP et al than the Republicans, although at least support for most of their policies is a lot lower (But I note the USA has something like 70% in favour of single payer health care, the problem is that the politicians are more right wing than the average citizen). UKIP is more like the tea party than your dismissive labelling of it, and I have seen a conservative aquaitance link to a story blaming USA teapartiers coming over to the UK and whipping up their resentment.

    I think it pretty clear though that the UK politicians are in the pockets of their paymasters, you just need to look at who gets the money and honours and suchlike – the Tory policies tend to benefit companies who have donated to the party or offered jobs to members. We are probably nearly as corrupt as the USA, but it is done in a different way, so is less visible.
    You need to research the NHS; the internal competition thing never went away, although it’s hard to find figures on how much money etc it wasted. New labour then moved things rightwards by outsourcing and suchlike, and the Tories are in the process of privatising it piecemeal by means of a top down re-organisation opposed by the majority of hospitals and Drs. The end result is lots of corporations taking taxpayer money without any actual competition.

  80. I would say the House Republicans have performed well stopping liberal populist stupidity. I would prefer politicians take Thoreau’s advice rather than spend more of my money and regulate me even more. Hopefully Brat is a move in that direction.

  81. Trimegistus:

    So, to prove your point that I have said something negative about the Tea Party, you point to someone else saying something negative about it? And also (incorrectly) accuse them of perpetrating a homophobic slur while they do so (“teabagging” in the sexual sense is placing one’s testicles in someone’s mouth — the sex of that person is immaterial). Your complaint is both misdirected and, in the latter case, apparently ignorant.

    I’d also note that there were ample examples of Tea Party individuals using the phrase “tea bagging,” much to the amusement of the rest of the world, before it was generally pointed out to them that the phrase was sexual slang. Their sexual panic about the phrase notwithstanding, I should note that I don’t use the phrase at this point; it’s polite to call people what they prefer to be called.

    With regard to the phrase itself in this thread, I’ll note I’ve called out the person who used the phrase for being rhetorically overheated, and he’s backed off from it, and further discussion of the topic, as requested by me.

    So: No, Trimegistus. Your obviously overdeveloped sense of complete victimization when you think someone is being mean to your favorite political subgrouping is leading you to say and infer stupid things in this thread. Allow me to suggest that when I choose to bash the Tea Party — and I might — you will know it because I will call it out by name. Because I am direct like that. In the meantime, however, I suggest you let it go.

  82. Trimegistus: ‘teabagger’ is not a homophobic slur. I know homophobic slurs, having had them hurled at me since the mid-1960s, and I say it’s not.

    It IS a reference to a bunch of idiots who thought they’d invoke the spirit of the Boston Tea Party by showing up to protest Obama’s Presidency with a bunch of tea bags, which they did not throw into the ocean (or even the river) but just sort of stood around holding. The dorkiest ones actually tied them to their stupid imitation tricorn hats.

    It is ALSO a reference to a practice in multiplayer-shooter video games where a victorious character mocks a dead one by thrusting the former’s crotch at the latter’s face. This IS homophobic, but you will note that it is the teabagger, not the person teabagged, who is the homophobe (they’re saying “you lost, so you have to s*ck my c*ck, because gay men are losers”). So the only connection to homophobia there would be an accusation of Tea Partiers being homophobic, which is pretty justified AFAICT.

    Also, if your name is intended to refer to the founder of Hermeticism, you’ve misspelled it.

  83. Allow me to suggest that if I’ve asked Trimegistus to let this particular topic go, it would be good for the rest of us to do so as well. Thanks.

  84. I really like it when people call each other ‘Mr’ or ‘Sir’ when they really get pissed off at each other…

    I live near Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia. This is not far from where Scalzi used to work. Cantor’s district is the next district over. The area is a little more rural, but its hardly ‘poor’ or truly rural. So its not that different from where I live. A number of voters called into the radio the last couple of days. This is my take

    – 12% voter turnout. Primaries have really lower turnout so pissing some people off is a job ender. Most people don’t care enough to vote in primaries. I didn’t even know there was a primary. Its also hard if not impossible to poll with such low voter turnout. You don’t know who is voting
    – Cantor went negative on this guy. This guy had no money. No one knew who he was. This also probably told people when the primary was since most of us don’t pay attention. This increased voter turnout and got the people pissed off at Cantor to vote for the guy running against him.

    7-8% of the total electorate voted against him. That isn’t alot. He pissed some people off. Most were pissed cause they felt like he ignored them. One guy said he closed down his office in one of the cities near him. He didn’t hold town halls. He didn’t spend enough time with constuents.

    Basically they felt he acted like he was too important for his district and he made a big mistake going negative on a guy no one ever heard of. This turned out to be free advertising. Should have been 100% positive and not even mention the other guy.

    Has no broader meaning. They have virtually the same positions. Only difference is immigration. This is a heavily republican district and this is the 6th year of a democratic president. The party who does not hold the white house almost always has large gains. Odds are this doesn’t really mean much nationally.

    @LisaResnick: I thought it was interesting how wrong the pollster was. I think it speaks to the really low voter turnouts in primaries. Basically 7-8% of the total electorate didn’t like him. Most people don’t even know when primaries occur. So its hard to predict turnout.

  85. Guess:

    I suspect that you are largely correct in your analysis. And yes, in fact I lived in Sterling when I was in VA. And, no doubt to the shock of people who assume they know my political thoughts in all circumstances, voted for Frank Wolf (R) when I lived there. He was a good and useful public servant, and as far as I could see his moral compass was guided by things other than immediate political expediency.

  86. Interestingly, polling suggests the VA-7th district is in favor of some level of immigration reform, even amongst Republican voters. Of course, the thin slice of the Republican electorate that comes out for a GOP primary in a midterm election (in June right when the school year is ending)… it’s a very narrow slice. Congress won’t get any more functional as a result of this shock, but it’s hard to imagine it getting less so. One architect of the absolute opposition strategy down, several to go.

  87. @Dann:

    At what point did supporting our Constitution (and thereby Constitutionally limited government) become “stupid”?

    When it come to demanding uncritical fealty to section of the Constitution that aren’t visible to the unaided eye (because they don’t actually exist), “stupid” is a harsh but tragically accurate description.

    As for Cantor — well, as the saying goes, when you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas. Well, Eric, you and your party sold your arse like a two buck hooker during Fleet Week to far right radicals who regard government as actively evil and the incumbent President as worse than the Anti-Christ and Satan put together. I’d say “you reap what you sow, so suck it” except everyone else is going to be left with the sour aftertaste of the Tea Party agenda.

  88. I hope I’m not the only one disturbed by low voter turnouts in primaries. It allows small numbers of people to define who the candidates are. It’s the same way in liberal districts.

    I think we need to standardize primaries so they occur at the same time so more people know about it. I think that will raise turnout and increase the likelihood that candidates reflect the two most popular candidates in the district.

  89. @cecilykane, actually, that’s somewhat misguided.

    There is, in fact, considerable evidence that opening up our immigration policy would provide a BOOST to our economy. For example, it took me all of 5.2 seconds to find a 2009 paper on the National Bureau of Economic Research site that concludes “We find no evidence that immigrants crowded-out employment and hours worked by natives.”

    This is what frustrates me (and many other progressives, I suspect) about the conservative tribe — their willingness to cling to a narrative because it’s “common sense,” while remaining impervious to any evidence to the contrary.

  90. @ Guess: “I think we need to standardize primaries so they occur at the same time so more people know about it.”

    I agree. I’m traditional about seeing voting (and informed voting) as a civic duty, and since I became a homeowner 18 months ago, I’ve also taken a strong interest in local government and legislation, since it will affect the single biggest fiscal investment in my life (my home).

    And YET… the ONLY reason I knew when this year’s primary was here is because one of my neighbors is running for local office, and he reminded me. If not for that, it’s very likely I’d have missed the primary, since although I read local news, it was mentioned so seldom that it wouldn’t have been on my radar. And when I showed up at the polls, it was clear that it was hardl yon anyone’s radar, since the polling place had no other voters the whole time I was there, they told me it was a very slow day and low turnout (though there are a lot of things to vote on in this district this year), and the only voter I saw approaching our polling place as I left was my neighbor (the one running or office).

    So I agree that turnout is a problem. I think primaries should all occur on the same day and get the same sort of advance trumpeting that election day does every year.

  91. @ Tim Keating: “This is what frustrates me (and many other progressives, I suspect) about the conservative tribe — their willingness to cling to a narrative because it’s “common sense,” while remaining impervious to any evidence to the contrary.”

    But this true of most things, isn’t it. Various studies have shown that most people, when confronted with evidence that contradicts their belief about something, don’t modify their views in accordance with new evidence; instead, they get angry and double down on their existing belief.

  92. “…for the past four years the House GOP’s strategy has been “oppose everything, do nothing.”

    I don’t disagree, but I wonder what the alternative is. With Democrats controlling the Senate, the House GOP can’t really do much. It can pass legislation that will die in the Senate and it can stop legislation that passed the Senate. By controlling one-half of one-third of the federal government, their job is primarily to serve as a balance to the Democrats agenda.

    When the position has been reversed, the same has also been true. If the GOP wins the Senate, then more legislation might pass, but most will die on the president’s desk.

  93. There have definitely been mixed congresses that got things done. The trick is to find something that needs to be done, and have a little give-and-take.

    There hasn’t been a whole lot of that recently, what with the ‘Never give an inch’ party. Congresscritters on both sides complain that the other side won’t cooperate, but only one of them is being aggressively primaried towards its wing, and only that side has threatened to shut down everything if it didn’t get its way.

  94. Tim Keating, that’s because it’s a mask for their real agenda, which is “America for Americans” – in other words, “I’ve got mine; fuck you.” They’re also terrified by the prospect of white people no longer being the majority, which they euphemize as “the coming demographic challenge.”

    Erick, drachefly is right. If the GOP weren’t so focused on making sure that Obama failed to have accomplishments (and IMO that’s because they want to tag black people as failures), they could have found a lot of things to agree on. Instead they turned on their own ideas as soon as Obama said he liked them, and poisoned legislation that was broadly bipartisan and widely favored by the people with unacceptable riders.

    drachefly, they didn’t just threaten. They did it. I’m still naïvely hoping that the voters will remember that in the fall.

  95. “They’re also terrified by the prospect of white people no longer being the majority, which they euphemize as “the coming demographic challenge.””

    OMG, is that really what that means?

    How drearily practical I am. I have consistently assumed that phrase referred to the aging of our population and the challenges of having the huge baby boomer generation in retirement, on Social Security and Medicare.

  96. I was actually a bit sad to hear Cantor lost his primary. He and I don’t agree on a whole lot, but we do agree on government transparency and open data–a cause for which he is a staunch advocate.

    You might think ‘well, yeah, but so is everyone,’ and you wouldn’t be wrong. But while most members are happy to vote for open government bills, very few are willing to really push for them and put energy into making them happen.

    So you’re right that one conservative replacing another is not going to do much to affect national policy, in the grand scheme of things. But a lot of the best things to come out of congress are not grand schemes. They’re incremental changes that individual members push hard for, related to issues about which they care deeply.

    Cantor and his staff do a lot of good work to cut through bureaucratic red tape and bring government data into the twenty-first century. Most of this is behind-the-scenes stuff that is too dry and dull to ever score him votes, but nonetheless makes a big difference in public access to data. He fights for the users. It’s thankless but important work, and I’m sad to see the House lose a high-profile member who’s willing to take it on.

  97. We are now at the point when any divergence from the “true faith” is rewarded with defeat in a primary, particularly if it’s low turnout. This tendency is not on only on the right. I’m in California – the zealots have made sure that there remains very little center. Believers regard any divergence as an accommodation with evil. Annoyingly, they are really smug about this.

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