Point of View Columns

The Circus is Back in Town

During the 2012 presidential campaign (which actually began in 2011), the Teapublican Party provided a bizarre and macabre Clown Carnival disguised as an electoral process. There was one Senate candidate who had to deny that she was a witch and another who introduced the particularly vile concept of “legitimate rape”. There was a presidential candidate who quoted the Japanese anime character Pokémon and another who wanted to colonize the moon. It turns out that 2012 was just the opening act.

Having written two published novels I would like to think that I have some idea of what kind of fiction is marketable. And I am certain that if I presented my agent with a book proposal that had a leader of the Teapublican Congress losing his seat to an avowed Ayn Rand zealot, she would throw me out of her office.

Yet, the latest news is that Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, lost in a primary to David Brat (you cannot make this up), a college professor who presumably lights candles to honor Ayn Rand every night. That would be the Eric Cantor who has voted to repeal Obamacare over fifty times. That would be the Eric Cantor who voted to cut food stamps and increases in benefits for veterans. The same Eric Cantor who led a Tea Party contingent in Congress that has shut down the federal government, imposed draconian sequestration cuts that impacted too many Americans and threatened to wreck the credit rating of the United States.

That Eric Cantor was not conservative enough for the citizens of the Congressional district in Virginia that he represents and we will now have to endure the lunacy of another ultraconservative who will be very comfortable with the likes of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Tim Scott and the Koch Brothers. And while David Brat may be comfortable with his theoretical musings on how the world would operate with little or no government, the implementation of his vision would produce a living nightmare for most Americans.

It begins with the fact that David Brat lives in the dream world of the self-made man. Somehow, in his contrived universe, he was responsible for building the public schools that educated him as well as training the teachers that taught him. In The World According to Brat, he earned everything through his own hard work and dedication – the roads and bridges and social safety net that protects him and most Americans have had nothing to do with his success.

The defeat of Eric Cantor should just be an historical anomaly. He is the first Majority Leader to have been defeated in a primary since the position was established in the 1890’s. But there is more to David Brat’s victory. Assuming that he will prevail in the general election in an overwhelmingly (and gerrymandered) Teapublican district, he will be one more voice of negativity, denial and fantasy added to the already unbearable Cacophony of No that is the Teapublican majority in the House of Representatives.

The takeaway from the downfall of Eric Cantor is that elections matter and that it is important to vote. The other takeaway is that David Brat is the symptom of a malady that is infecting the body politic and none of us are immune.

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