World Review – June 18, 2014.
The party primary defeat of Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014, ended up being the portent of Donald Trump’s shellacking of 17 ‘establishment’ Republicans in 2016. Brat, like Trump was a total outsider to politics and campaigned on a very similar, if more finessed message. Eric Cantor, spent millions and peppered his district with campaign literature. Brat spent a fraction of the money, and put out one flyer only in support of his campaign.
THE SHOCK DEFEAT of Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor on June 10, 2014, in the Republican Primary election was, politically, on the scale of a magnitude 10 earthquake, says freelance writer Kevin Brent.
Mr Cantor, 51, was defeated in the Seventh District Republican primary by little-known Dave Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon University. Eric Cantor announced his resignation as House majority leader the next day – June 11.
Being a born resident of Virginia myself, it’s obvious why Mr Cantor was defeated. First and foremost was his arrogant dismissal of his own constituents’ opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants; a mistake Mr Cantor compounded by campaigning for amnesty in national venues while brazenly putting out local campaign literature claiming to be fighting against amnesty legislation.
Additionally, Mr Cantor failed to uphold basic core issues he was originally elected on; reducing the size of government; reigning in national debt; lowering taxes; strong national defense; and since 2009, his effective surrender on Obamacare.
However, this does not entirely explain Mr Cantor’s defeat by such a large percentage (56 per cent to 44 per cent), considering that his political doppelgänger in South Carolina, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham won his primary even after a runoff election.
There were two themes present in Dave Brat’s campaign in addition to repealing Obamacare; ‘zero-tolerance’ to amnesty for illegal immigrants and Mr Brat’s Christianity, neither of which have been overly present in the campaigns of other Tea Party sponsored
candidates in Republican primaries or general elections against Democrats.
This is revealing because in the case of Senator Graham, the very spark that lit the Tea Party fire against him within his own party was his steadfast push for amnesty arm-in-arm with amnesty’s biggest champion, Senator John McCain.
References to Christianity or ‘God’ by Tea Party-backed candidates are hit and miss at best depending on the candidate; a phenomenon stemming from the ‘big tent’ thinking among many Tea Party organizations which has colored their candidate endorsements.
A strategy first used in the 2000 presidential campaign, ‘big tent’ – or ‘catch-all’ thinking – is Republican support of core Democrat Party issues and addressing voters by ethnicity and gender like the Democrats, while largely avoiding Christians. ‘Big tent’ presumes Republican voters will back any Republican candidate in lockstep.
This is precisely what led to the presidential nomination of pro-amnesty George W. Bush in 2000 and the 2012 nomination of Republican Mitt Romney – the man who invented what was later called ‘Obamacare’. It was Mitt Romney who won the vaunted ‘independent’ vote while losing the Republican base vote and thereby lost the 2012 election despite President Obama losing millions of his 2008 voters.
There are Tea Party groups which have been infiltrated or even created stealthily by Democrat Party organizations and groups allegedly funded by some of the Republican elite to mislead voters or paint the Tea Party movement as ‘kooks and racists’.
In most cases however, gravitating to ‘big tent’ stems from poor direction and leadership in the trenches resulting when group organizers realized Republican Party elites were never going to see the light; leading them to morph into populist movements –
to compensate for the lack of public exposure via the Republican Party machine.
The only way to appeal beyond a political party’s base vote is to stray away from it.
Professor Brat did not run as anything else, but a dedicated Republican Party candidate and his campaign was rooted in the long-held core values of the Republican Party base.
Many Tea Party affiliated candidates have strayed from that template either by nefarious intent or tactical error. And that is why they are not winning elections.