…because of two things: all politics is local (that Evil Democrat Tip O’Neill was right about that), and this is a party that actually lives its Big Tent philosophy, even if it can’t communicate worth a hoot.
The trigger for this is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R, VA) loss in Virginia’s primary last Tuesday and all the journalistic hand-wringing (in their finest Marlon Brando fashion) about the deep meaning that.
David Payne, Senior Vice President for Vox Global, a public affairs and strategic communications consulting agency, is on the right track, though:
It’s way too soon to tell. You have establishment candidates winning and Tea Party candidates winning. How do you generalize? But it seems very obvious to me that different things are happening in different places.
That different things, different places bit is the local politics bit. Keep in mind that Cantor lost because of his stance on immigration and “amnesty,” while just two states away, Senator Lindsey Graham (R, SC) easily won his primary after having actually voted for immigration and “amnesty.” But that’s the Big Tent bit.
Contrary to the hand-wringing, which is of little practical value beyond being a mechanism for peddling a story (another local (if only to his editor) effect), Cantor’s loss is illustrative of a great strength of the Republican Party, and a benefit to it that would seem to match, if not outweigh, the loss of Cantor’s experience and ability to talk honestly with both establishment and conservative Republicans.
Last things first: David Brat’s win, and especially if he wins again in the fall (as seems likely), is another impetus pulling the party to the right. Certainly the party can go too far, but today, despite its win in 2010 as confirmed by 2012, the party is still a bit too far to the Left.
The larger demonstration of the value of Brat’s win, though, is the Big Tent bit. One party brags about its representing the people, about its being all about democracy, but it reaches its “consensus” secretively, behind closed doors, and with the application of its famed party discipline. The Republican Party lives is democracy beliefs, its limited government beliefs, it view that Americans speak for themselves and that the Party does not speak for them. There’s room for only one kind of Democrat in the Democratic Party; there’s room for all kinds of Republicans in the Republican Party.
Oh, that limited government bit I brought up late? Refer to Speaker John Boehner’s (R, OH) style of governance of the House of Representatives. He and his fellow senior House leaders, far from being unable to impose discipline on a raucous conservative section of their House members, deliberately stepped back from that sort of leadership. They have actively sought out the opinions of the conservative members, Tea Party members, et al. as they form legislation. And they began it in 2011 with their conservative-developed policy of posting proposed legislation publicly for a period of time so that all Congressmen—especially including Democrat Congressmen—and all Americans—including Liberal Americans—could see the proposals and get onto their Representatives before the votes were cast.
There is no clear picture of the meaning of Cantor’s loss/Brat’s victory to pundits. But the meaning really is quite clear. And it’s encouraging.