David Brat’s stunning and historic defeat of No. 2 House Republican Eric Cantor in a Virginia congressional primary recently is being called a victory for the tea party. Perhaps, but it appears to be far deeper than that.
First, there was little money coming in for Brat from any national tea party group — and if Cantor spent $5 million to lose to Brat’s $200,000, it’s obvious the tea party, if it did ante up, was not betting the farm on the economics professor.
Contrary to some media reports, it wasn’t a low voter turnout, either — 65,000 showed up at the polls, compared to 47,000 during Cantor’s 2012 campaign, a sizable increase. And although it is a strong Republican district, I cannot believe all of these voters were of the tea party flavor.
Many argue the 55.5 percent versus 45.5 percent woodshed whipping was a shot across the bow at Washington in general and the Republican leadership in particular.
And the night Cantor was whipped like the proverbial red-headed stepchild, numerous Republicans 1,000 miles away were attending a fundraiser for Thad Cochran, facing his own tea party battle against Chris McDaniel in Mississippi today. According to Politico, Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala., were among the establishment faithful at the National Republican Senatorial Committee event. The event was hosted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was pressuring others to contribute or raise money for the embattled Cochran.
And raise money Cochran did, some $850,000 from incumbent Republicans, Chamber of Commerce officials and numerous lobbyists who all support amnesty for undocumented workers.
Cochran has been in office since 1972, far long enough, say critics, and has become a pork-barrel politician who spends big. Many say he is a Republican whose time has passed, and one who, more and more, votes with the Democrats on issues of national concern.
At the end of the day, money did nothing for Cantor, other than perhaps firm up support for Brat, an outsider who dared call for less spending, free-market principles, true immigration reform and moral clarity. He even mentioned “God,” God forbid, and he dared oppose the ruling class who many Virginians and Americans perceive are stacking the deck.
Virginian Republicans, like many Americans, are fed up with underhanded dealings and not being represented. They see the nation veering dangerously left, whether with Obamacare, the dismantling and casting aside of our military and its veterans, or our $17 trillion dollars in national debt. There is an almost unending list of other grievances, as well, from IRS political abuse of conservatives, the loss of American lives in Benghazi, guns for Fast and Furious to reporter telephone taps and cover-ups galore. Had this been a Republican president, impeachment hearings would have been underway more than a year ago.
And they are tired of not having an engaged Republican team on the field to oppose the current transformation of America.
The big point being missed by the mainstream media is how many Americans believe far too many politicians are in a bubble of power, money and corporate cronyism that leaves them, their families, and their nation hurled over the cliff of decline.
Many point to the latest invasion of illegal children across the U.S.-Mexico border as the latest example of scandal, arguably encouraged and/or ignored by this administration, as the ace played by Brat and the tea party to win the day.
In any case, game on. Watch the runoff in Mississippi — and perhaps in a polling booth near you.
Mike Chambers is a resident of Lookout Mountain.