KATIE ZERR: Aftermath of Cantor’s defeat: More of nothing


There was what some media are calling an earthquake in Washington, D.C., last night and the aftermath could mean an even more divisive, cantankerous political atmosphere in the nation’s capitol.

What happened in the Virginia Republican Primary last night cannot bode well for the people of the United States. It seems Eric Cantor is not conservative enough to satisfy the voters of Virginia. It would seem that while his attempts to compromise on some legislation that for the majority of voters in this country is popular, did not sit well with his constituents.

Whether or not Cantor’s stand on Immigration Reform was his true undoing is yet to be decided, but just the hint that it may have had a hand in his packing up his Washington office has virtually killed any hope for passage.

But it has also created a great fear in the souls of those Republicans that are up for reelection in the coming years. If the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives is vulnerable to the far right wing of the party, is anyone safe?

Although there are rumbles of other reasons for his downfall, including that he didn’t take the challenge from Tea Party-backed Dave Brat very seriously and poured money into commercials rather than appear in his home state during the campaign, the true reason may be moot.

We can look forward to a less productive, more vocally critical and aggressively divisive Congress in the near future.

Cantor’s defeat puts a target on those Republicans that might have wanted to do what is right for this country. They will be more hesitant in voting for anything that is unpopular with the most conservative of their party whether or not is what is best for this country.

From the very beginning Cantor has been an antagonist for the Obama Administration. He was part of the group of 15 Republican lawmakers who plotted on the night of the president’s inauguration to sabotage and challenge every piece of legislation or any program or nominee brought forth by this president. He hit the bricks to whip up support for the effort with other Republicans to challenge every single bill and every issue this administration championed.

He helped to orchestrate the contentious atmosphere in Washington and helped make compromise a dirty word and make obstructionism the party mantra.

But recently Cantor had angered far right conservatives in a number of ways. He voted to end the government shutdown and lift the debt ceiling in 2013. Some did not like the efforts being made to move the party toward more moderate ground on some social issues, such as his supporting some form of immigration reform or his working with others to pass the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.

Or could this be the cannon shot over the bow for those members of Congress who have become too comfortable in their offices? Could it be the phenomena that South Dakotans witnessed when the campaign strategy of showing Tom Daschle as a person who had lost touch with his home state worked to oust the most powerful Democrat in Congress?

Cantor may have been powerful enough to be mentioned as a vice presidential nominee in the John McCain campaign and be next in line for the Speaker of the House job, but not powerful to stave off a campaign by a little known economics professor backed by ultra conservatives.

So the obstructionist who vehemently opposed budget compromise, health care reform, economic stimulus, disaster aid and extending unemployment benefits, and the champion of cutting social programs is not conservative enough.

Or maybe he had become too big and too complacent to stay in Washington. Maybe it was that conservatives never truly liked Eric Cantor for a number of reasons. For whatever reason, his defeat will strike fear in the hearts of those who don’t want to lose their jobs in Washington and the status that goes with it.

It will also boost the confidence of the ultra-conservative wing of the party.

It will mean more of what we have been living through in the past six years.

Can the country survive a more divided, more uncompromising Congress?

We may be about to find out.

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