What will GOP learn from Cantor’s defeat?
Likely, not much.
The establishment has a difficult time analyzing and adapting to such ground shifting events. And make no mistake: Eric Cantor’s defeat was earth shattering. He becomes the first Majority leader ever to lose a primary race. EVER. And he is the highest ranking party member to lose a primary race since 1899.
In my lifetime, there is not really an analogous primary result. People have compared this to then Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle’s Senate election loss, but that was a general election race…a whole different ballgame.
Fundamentally, Cantor was not a bad conservative. I still believe he is a good man, and a good Republican. In fact, he had terrific ratings from conservative groups. He was for lower taxes, smaller government…generally a pretty strong conservative.
What Cantor lost in recent years was any connection to the base…and his own constituents. And ultimately…that matters. For years, people in his district felt he spent far more time catering to Washington D.C. interests than their own. Even before this cycle, Cantor was no loved in the district, because…he made no effort TO be loved.
My faith in the Republican Party’s leadership is at an all-time low, and the voters of VA-7 seemed to agree with my assessment. This is a party that spends an inordinate time worrying about what Democrats, the media, and others say about it…instead of listening it its own members, and actually moving the needle on conservative policies to move the country forward.
If the GOP leadership walks away from this event with only excuses why Cantor lost, it will further deepen the divide in the party, and furthermore, will do nothing to further the conservative cause. The party doesn’t necessarily need to move right or center to win elections. More than anything, it needs to listen to the American people, focus on the few issues people care about…and then fight.
I don’t see that happening, because we still require a leadership purge within the party. There are many things our party must help the country transform on, whether it be the economy, taxes, immigration or health care. But our current leadership cadre might be out of their depths on those issues. And fundamentally, Cantor’s loss was simply a symptom of that larger problem.