Tags: Eric Cantor

Obama: ‘Our Future Rests’ On The Success Of DREAM Kids


President Obama reminded Democratic donors that “our future rests” on the success of people brought to the United States illegally as children, who would qualify for citizenship if Congress had passed the DREAM Act.

“About 30 to 40 percent of the kids in this school, by the way, are DREAM kids,” Obama said Wednesday evening. “You wouldn’t know it looking at them, because they are as American as apple pie.  But every single one of these kids, you might not be able to tell the difference, but a whole bunch of them — they’re worried about whether or not they’re going to be able to finance their college education of their immigrant status.  They’re worried about whether, in fact, this country that they love so deeply loves them back and understands that our future rests on their success.  Why wouldn’t we want to give them that certainty that you are part of the fabric of this nation, we’re counting on you, and we’re going to make sure you succeed?  Why wouldn’t we want to do that?”

Obama made the comments at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser in Massachusetts, in reference to students at Worcester Tech. “So these young people are graduating, ready to go to college, but also certified nurses, EMT folks.  Many of them are choosing to join the military and will contribute to our country in this way,” he said.  “And looking out as I was speaking to them and then shaking their hands, and giving them hugs and high-fives and all the things that kids do on a graduation, I thought to myself: How could we not want to invest in these kids?”

Vice President Joe Biden also said Wednesday that increasing immigration would boost the economy, though he extended the argument beyond the DREAM Act kids.

“We need it badly from a purely — purely economic point of view,” Biden said Tuesday, per The Hill. It’s an argument that corporations tend to support, but the White House push comes as Congress is still coming to terms with the shock of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) losing his primary to Dave Brat, a political novice supported by local Tea Party activists who faulted Cantor for being out of touch with the district.

Cantor’s support for DREAM Act-style legislation, which he announced a few months after the 2012 election, inspired conservative radio host Laura Ingraham to rally grassroots voters against him.

“Now, Ingraham is setting her sights on 2016: In particular, she wants to ensure that the Republican nominee is not cut from Cantor’s cloth,” National Review Online’s Eliana Johnson reported. “Brat’s victory, she says, is a step in the right direction: ‘Everybody that’s hoping and praying for a Jeb Bush run, they should spend a lot of time focusing on what just happened in Virginia.’”

Obama’s team is pushing back against the idea that immigration sank Cantor. “Cantor’s problem wasn’t his position on immigration reform, it was his lack of a position,” Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer tweeted on election night, citing the success of Senator Lindsay Graham (R., S.C.).  “Graham wrote and passed a bill and is winning big.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Eric Cantor , Joe Biden , Illegal Immigration , Immigration

Will’s Take: Cantor Lost Because Being in Washington Leadership ‘Not a Good Thing to Be These Days’


The demands of Eric Cantor’s role in Republican leadership, and subsequent large warchest, ultimately doomed him in Tuesday’s primary upset to challenger Dave Brat, according to George Will.

“Mr. Cantor’s great advantage was money, and I think it hurt him,” he said on Wednesday’s Special Report. “He spent an awful lot of money advertising Mr. Brat’s name, to which a lot of people said, ‘Well, we actually have a choice here.’”

Cantor’s loss likely had little to do with his district’s sentiments to his stance on immigration reform, but rather that “he is a member of the Washington leadership, and that is just not a good thing to be these days.” Additionally, as a result of the national focus his role as House majority leader required, Cantor “necessarily neglected some of the housekeeping duties in his district.”

Tags: Eric Cantor

Cantor Steps Down, Throws Support behind McCarthy as Successor


Eric Cantor officially announced his plans to leave as House majority leader Wednesday afternoon, following his surprising defeat in Tuesday’s primary. He will remain in Congress until the end of his term.

Looking forward after his “personal setback,” he told reporters that he would support the man next in line in Republican leadership, House majority whip Kevin McCarthy, as his successor should McCarthy seek the spot.

“He’d make an outstanding majority leader, and I will be backing him with my full support,” he said. Others reportedly likely to vie for the majority-leader spot include Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions and Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling, both of Texas.

Leaving the “political analysis to y’all,” the Virginia Republican refrained from discussing his primary race and instead emphasized the unity and shared goals of the Republican party. He insisted that that the policy differences between establishment Republicans and the Tea Party are minimal on several issue – including immigration.

Immigration policy, to many, was one of the key contributing factors to Cantor’s loss on Tuesday. But Cantor said he hoped Congress would work towards immigration reform, but with a piecemeal approach rather the comprehensive Democrat-backed Senate bill.

Tags: Eric Cantor

The Race Is On for Majority Leader


Events are moving with lightning speed on Capitol Hill. First, Eric Cantor announced he is giving up the majority leader’s spot next month. Rep. Paul Ryan said he wouldn’t run to replace him. And elections to fill the majority leader’s job will take place in just eight days — on Thursday, June 19th.

The snap election increases the chances that the favored candidate of some of the House old bulls — Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state — has a head start. She is already the 4th-ranking Republican in leadership, did an excellent job in articulating the party’s message after President Obama’s State of the Union speech, and would improve the party’s image in the media. Her main competition may be House majority whip Kevin McCarthy, though his near endorsement by Cantor this afternoon won’t help his candidacy. Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chair of the Financial Services Committee, may carry the conservative, activist standard in the leadership race. Hensarling, a former student of Phil Gramm before he became a U.S. senator, has impressive policy credentials and would have the same kind of support and approach to governing as another Texas economics professor who became majority leader in 1995, Dick Armey. 

Tags: Eric Cantor

Local Tea Party Activists Helped Topple Eric Cantor


Tea Party activists helped Dave Brat defeat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.), but they aren’t getting much credit because national groups didn’t spend money in support of their candidate.

“The fact that Brat took off without the help of those organizations now makes it harder for them to claim his victory as their own,” the Washington Post’s Matea Gold suggested, referring to national Tea Party organizations such as the Madison Project and FreedomWorks. Gold may be correct as far as the national groups go, but the local Tea Party groups have opposed Cantor for years, and backed Brat from the beginning.

“Brat represents a serious challenge to House Majority Leader Cantor, who has helped sink Congress to a mere 6 percent approval rating. Already, some are framing this campaign as a ‘true conservative’ taking on the ‘Establishment GOP,’” Lawrence Nordvig wrote at the Richmond Tea Party website when Brat announced his candidacy. “Richmond Tea Party does not officially endorse candidates, but we feel this is an historic opportunity to take part in the launch of what promises to be a ‘watershed’ moment in national politics!”

The Henrico County Tea Party website features a string of posts touting Brat against the “weasel” Cantor, culminating in a May 29 item dubbing Brat’s race (original emphasis) “probably one of the most important ones in VA history!

The Richmond Tea Party has been agitating against Cantor since at least 2012.  ”We can do better….and we need to DEMAND better,” an Oct. 2, 2012 blog post (original emphasis) says in reference to Cantor. (FreedomWorks would probably point out that the author of the post based his critique on their scorecard, which rated Cantor a 73). In September of 2013, the group scheduled a “Cantor Encounter” street demonstration outside his office.

Two months ago, the Richmond group invited Center for Immigration Studies executive director Mark Krikorian, an NRO contributor, to talk about immigration. They also shared their views with Krikorian. “[S]ome people, including Mr. Cantor are sitting up there, [and] it’s more important for their reelection and they’re serving the Republican Party and the Chamber of Commerce than it is [to serve] the people in the district,” one man off-camera said. “We elected him to serve us.” 

The Bull Elephant reported on Cantor’s appearance at the 7th District Republican Party Convention in May. “Eric Cantor and Dave Brat speaking,” Steve Albertson wrote. “Cantor getting booed, criticizing how it’s easy to throw stones from ivory towers…he’s really, really hitting back at Brat. I’ve never seen Cantor this forceful. Angry even.”

When Linwood Cobb, “one of Eric Cantor’s top lieutenants in his home district,” lost a bid to remain district party chairman to Tea Party challenger Fred Gruber, Albertson blamed Cantor. “A friend remarked to me after Cobb’s defeat that what made this possible was the unique vitality of various Tea Party groups within the 7th District. I responded, “Do you think that’s a coincidence?” In fact, it is not, but is instead a direct consequence of the way Rep. Cantor and his supporters have consistently circled the wagons around the Congressman to ensure as much control of the local politics surrounding him as possible,” Albertson suggested. “Where in other districts, like the 1st District where I live, Tea Party and libertarian newcomers have been welcomed into the GOP tent, in the 7th they have consistently been made to feel unwelcome inside the GOP.”

The Richmond Tea Party, for its part, hailed Gruber’s victory. “You’ve proved that hard work and dedication CAN win the day,” one activist wrote when the results came in. “Does this portend of weakness in Eric Cantor’s bid to retain his 7th district seat in the House? We’ll see in about a month.”

Tags: Eric Cantor , Tea Party , Dave Brat

The Sun Is Out, and So Is Eric Cantor


Even by Virginia standards, this May and June have been particularly glorious, and to top it off, Eric Cantor lost! He’s classy enough to have announced he won’t try to run a write-in campaign in response, and however regrettable his becoming the scapegoat for a broader pattern might be, I am incredibly grateful for this unexpected blessing. My peaceful easy feeling today is based on the assumption that Jonah Goldberg is probably right that, at long last, amnesty-grounded comprehensive-immigration reform is finally dead. 

Today a very sensible moderate yet conservative-leaning Facebook friend of mine today was worrying about the influence of the Tea Party and their bad “crusading” approach to politics, prodded, I’m suspecting, by some standard media story on the subject in the wake of Cantor’s loss. 

My response was basically as follows:

It’s an odd day to be voicing this sentiment, since IMO, the defeat of Eric Cantor by voters who, whether organized by tea-party groups or not were in broad sympathy with them, likely kills a Republican buy-in to amnesty-grounded immigration reform. That was a major albatross around the party’s neck, and if it really is killed by this, GOP prospects in 2014 and 2016 go up substantially. Don’t buy MSM auto-pilot “analysis” about tea-party “extremism” hurting the GOP.

As to your broader points, against the Tea Party and despairing of the possibility of “deliberation” occurring in our politics anymore, National Affairs will be publishing an essay of mine this summer (“The Five Conceptions of American Liberty,” which I outlined here) that will recommend a conservatism less tied to a dogmatic and economistic conception of liberty, and which shows how Americans can deliberate about their more fundamental disagreements about politics. There is hope for deliberation about first principles, as my essay can show you; and hope for such about specific policy issues, as the work of Joseph Bessette can show you. Just remember, in a family fight, which is what we’ve been having, it can be the case one side is more at fault. Unless and until a critical mass of Democrat activists and leaders become more demanding of fair play and of genuine respect for the other side, a la William Galston, the basic polarization will continue and will be necessary. 

I’m sharing all this not simply as an act of self-promotion, but to explain why moderates-in-spirit, such as myself, might welcome Cantor’s loss.

Now as to immigration, I’m willing to debate particular policy points about reform packages, and whether a partial amnesty, enacted well after a pattern of interior and border enforcement of the freakin’ law has been demonstrated, should be part of such a package. I’m willing to debate where guys like Cantor and Ryan actually stand in that debate, so long as it’s admitted that complex policy wonkery, especially when combined with secret negotiations with today’s Dems, lends itself to the breeding of mistrust in the conservative base. Acknowledging that as a general fact, even if it may be a non-decisive one for many issues, is crucial for those of us friendly to the larger project of reform-conservatism to recognize. But what is not debatable is that this immigration-reform threat that moderate Republicans, particularly of the donor class and through the machinations of the D.C. Republican establishment, would stealthily come to a compromise with the Dems, has deeply and repeatedly demoralized the conservative base. It has been the key fact used by those who want to establish a narrative of rampant RINO-ism that excuses their abstaining from voting, or voting libertarian.  So, a sober nod of respect towards Eric Cantor, best wishes and prayers for the victor Dave Brat, and despite Rush Limbaugh’s worries to the contrary, a rousing chorus of Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead! to celebrate amnesty’s passing.

Tags: Eric Cantor , Dave Brat , Immigration , Tea Party

What Brat’s Victory Means for the Future of the GOP


As Jonah GoldbergJohn Fund, and Erick Erickson have observed, a number of factors led to Dave Brat’s victory over Eric Cantor on Tuesday. Much of the reporting and analysis of yesterday’s primary has understandably focused on immigration’s role in the race, but it is also important to pay attention to the broader context of immigration for this race and the GOP as a whole.

Skeptics about the mass legalization of illegal immigrants and expanded guest-worker programs played a key role in propelling Brat to victory. If Cantor had not been tied down by House leadership immigration principles and some of his own statements and if Brat had not run hard against Cantor on immigration, last night’s primary could very easily have been a blip on the political radar: Republican leader beats upstart challenger. Just as the debate about Obamacare made Scott Brown’s victory possible in 2010, controversies over immigration policy probably made Brat’s victory possible last night.

But possibility is not certainty, and opposition to “amnesty” alone did not guarantee Brat’s victory. Brat made a broader case that used opposition to Cantor on immigration as a policy centerpiece. His campaign did not solely consist of frothing denunciations of “amnesty.”

Instead, he argued that Cantor’s position on immigration was representative of an agenda that would lower American wages, pervert the free market, and undermine the rule of law. Brat wove opposition to mass legalization and expanded guest-worker programs into a broader narrative of defending the middle class, restoring opportunity, and advancing the cause of economic liberty (which is deeply connected, according to Brat, to the rule of law).

Brat’s interview with Sean Hannity last night is instructive here. Brat argued that free markets and the rule of law fueled American prosperity. He said the GOP needed to focus more on “Main Street” and less on “Wall Street” and warned about government intervention into the marketplace on behalf of powerful interests.

To echo a point Bill Kristol raised earlier today: Brat’s victory has larger implications for those Republicans and conservatives hoping to reinvigorate the GOP.  By making opposition to the White House’s immigration agenda part of a broader narrative about defending the middle class and advancing freedom, Brat was able to build a grassroots movement into a winning coalition.  Many proponents of Republican reform have been very skeptical about what the Beltway calls “comprehensive immigration reform” (i.e., bad-faith open borders) because they fear that this set of policies undermines the average American worker, damages economic opportunity, and harms the civic fabric of the nation.

Far from a defeat for conservative reformers (as some have alleged), Brat’s victory could instead be seen as a sign of the growing viability of a conservatism that synthesizes beliefs in decentralized power, economic opportunity and growth, middle-class uplift, the rule of law, the protection of civil liberties, and a strong national defense.

Tags: Eric Cantor

Reform Conservatism and Cantor


I got an email asking how Cantor’s defeat affected the “reform conservative” project, and thought I’d share my reply here. (Ross Douthat took on the same topic today.)

Cantor fell victim to the tea party-establishment battle that we are trying to transcend, and in particular to the establishment wing’s conviction that what Republicans need to do above all is modify their stance on immigration: a conviction that is divisive and, because it is false, unnecessarily so.

I regret his defeat because he had been supportive of reformist ideas, especially in recent months. The demands of reaching a consensus in his conference precluded him from being as out front on these ideas as some senators have been, but he helped to bring attention these ideas by, for example, speaking at AEI when Room to Grow was released.

Ironically, perhaps, one of the main themes of Dave Brat’s campaign against him—that Republicans are too identified with big business—is one of ours as well. I think Republicans, and Cantor specifically, might be in a different place if they had done more, earlier, on a Main Street agenda.

Tags: Eric Cantor

Ted Cruz Compares Republican Senator In Mississippi to Eric Cantor


House majority leader Eric Cantor’s defeat in the Virginia Republican primary inspired Senator Ted Cruz to tout the tea-party challenger to Senator Thad Cochran (R., Miss.), although Cruz still officially followed the unwritten rule about refusing to endorse challengers to incumbent senators of his own party.

“You look at the results of last night. Dave Brat was outspent 50 to 1, and yet the people woke up and said we’re tired of business as usual in Washington,” Cruz told Glenn Beck, who has been boosting state senator Chris McDaniel’s challenge to Cochran, during a Wednesday-morning radio interview. ”You look at the results in Mississippi, where the fourth longest-serving member of the Senate has suddenly found himself in a runoff because Chris McDaniel is running a strong grassroots campaign. How does Washington respond? By heaping lies and personal attacks, and trying to attack any candidate who takes on the Washington status quo.”

That wasn’t a slip of the tongue, either. ”You asked what we can do,” Cruz continued, in what Mississippi voters might regard as a not-so-subtle hint. “The biggest thing we can do is rise up and demand that our elected officials in both parties listen to the people, and that we hold every elected official accountable, and I think 2014 is going to be a very strong election year, but I think 2016 is going to be even stronger, because sometimes things have to get really bad to startle people out of their slumber, to wake them up and say it’s now or never. We either stand up now or we will lose the greatest country in the history of the world.”

Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah), an ally of Cruz’s in the Senate, advised McDaniel’s campaign down the stretch of the primary, although his staff said they would have given Cochran the same advice if he had asked for it. “The advice was always consistent that people are looking to vote for someone,” spokesman Brian Phillips told NRO. “In this primary, you’re not going to get over 50 percent by just slamming the other guy and getting people to vote against the other guy; that at some point there is going to be a significant number of independents and undecideds who are going to be looking to vote for someone. And that’s true, I think, in any primary. And we had given the advice that we think the agenda is the thing that people will vote for. And so, if you’re looking to move numbers of undecideds and independents, the agenda shows the way, and so that was the advice that we gave, and that’s the advice we would give to anybody.”

Tags: Ted Cruz , Mike Lee , Thad Cochran , Chris McDaniel , Eric Cantor

Cantor: I Won’t Mount a Write-In Campaign


Yahoo reports that Eric Cantor will not mount a write-in campaign:

Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told key aides and trusted former staffers on Wednesday that he will not try his luck with a write-in campaign after his shocking GOP primary defeat at the hands of largely unknown tea party-backed economics professor Dave Brat.

“I am not going to do a write-in. I am a Republican and proud of that,” a source familiar with the Virginia Republican’s message quoted him as saying in a closed-door meeting.

The rest here.

Tags: Eric Cantor

That Immigration Statement of Principles


I’d go further than Rich, and say that Cantor would probably have won if not for that statement of principles. It never made a lick of sense to reignite the immigration controversy when it had already died down, but the statement did exactly that. My sense at the time was that Boehner was the one really pushing for the statement and that Cantor had signed it in the interest of party unity (and perhaps to keep Boehner from forcing actual action on an immigration bill, which would have been even more divisive).

By signing it, though, Cantor put himself in an untenable position, stuck to a view he could neither defend nor repudiate, raising the salience of that view for politics generally, and raising it for his race specifically (since the majority leader runs the House floor and could schedule a vote on a bill). I suspect Brat would have done well even without this issue. But judging from the issue’s prominence in the race, it seems highly likely that it’s what put him over the top.

Tags: Eric Cantor

Brat: Victory Is an ‘Unbelievable Miracle’


Dave Brat’s stunning upset over Eric Cantor didn’t just surprise many political insiders – Brat himself seemed stunned by the win.

“Just an unbelievable miracle,” he told Fox News just hours after his victory. Brat defeated Cantor, the House majority leader, 56 percent to 44 percent in Virginia’s seventh congressional district’s Republican primary on Tuesday.

Crediting his faith in God, Brat said voters are ready for “some major changes in this country.”

“The American people know the country is heading in the wrong direction: The debt and deficits, the economic growth is terrible, the regulatory burden is terrible,” he explained. “The representation in D.C. won’t address those major issues.”

Tags: Eric Cantor

The Steep Drop in Cantor’s Primary Vote Total from 2012


Here’s a piece of evidence arguing against the “Democratic crossover votes helped Dave Brat beat Eric Cantor” theory.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, House majority leader Cantor received 28,898 votes in the GOP primary, to Brat’s 36,110.

In June 2012, against a similarly little-known and underfunded challenger, Cantor won 37,369 votes to Floyd Bayne’s 9,668.

In other words, Cantor lost 8,471 votes from his total in the last primary. It’s not just that new voters out of the woodwork to vote for Brat; it’s that some of his past supporters either didn’t show up or voted for Brat this cycle.

Note that in 2012 there was a contested, if not quite competitive, GOP Senate primary, where George Allen beat Jamie Radtke. In the 7th congressional district that year, 77,169 votes were cast in the Senate primary, and only 47,037 votes cast in the House primary. So quite a few voters — self-identifying as Republicans, at least for that primary day — cast ballots in the Senate primary and didn’t bother to vote in the House primary.

(That 2012 GOP primary was for congressional offices, not the presidential race. Virginia held its presidential primary in March, and only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified for the ballot.)

UPDATE: More useful evidence: “Michael McDonald of the United States Elections Project found similar results analyzing precinct-level data Tuesday night, reporting GOP primary turnout was lowest in the most Democratic-leaning areas of the state.”

Did some Democrats vote in the GOP primary for Brat? Sure, some local Democrats, such as “Cooter” from The Dukes of Hazzard — also known as former congressman Ben Jones — encouraged this, and probably helped Brat achieve his eye-popping 11-percentage-point margin. But Cantor and his allies and supporters are simply fooling themselves if they attribute his defeat to crossover voters.

Tags: Eric Cantor , Dave Brat

Cantor’s Loss and Voting Rights Act Amendments


I noted on Monday the unhappiness among conservatives with Representative Cantor’s failure to oppose forthrightly the very bad bill to amend the Voting Rights Act. While immigration reform was an important issue in his primary loss last night, this other issue should not be discounted — and other Republicans need to take heed.


Tags: Eric Cantor

After Virginia: A Media Guide to American Politics


Though I have read the U.S. Constitution, I am still puzzled by American politics. Are there any simple rules that will help me understand it?

Certainly. The two most important rules are as follows:

When Democrats win, it’s good for the Democrats.

When Republicans win, it’s good for the Democrats.

So what kind of election result is good for the Republicans?

That’s quite simple. It’s good for the Republicans when Republicans lose because then they might become more like the Democrats. 

Okay, that covers the general election. What about primaries?

Easy. When the GOP establishment wins, it’s good for the Democrats because the establishment is closer than GOP insurgents to the Democrats.

And when insurgent Republicans win, it’s good for the Democrats because it means that the GOP has written off the next election.

What about Democrat primaries? 

That’s a little more complicated. Of course, a primary victory for an establishment Democrat is good for the Democrats because it makes the party more electable.

On the other hand, a primary win for an insurgent Democrat is also good for the party because it brings the Democrats closer to the People. 

Now I’m really puzzled. How so?

Well, to understand that, you need a grasp of theory. Let me put it in as simple terms as possible. There is something called the political spectrum which runs right to left as follows: The Voters, the insurgent Republicans, the establishment Republicans, the establishment Democrats, the insurgent Democrats, and finally the People. 

Surely, however, the Voters are the People too.

Not always, very rarely in fact. The Voters are those sections of the People that speak for themselves; other sections of the People are unfortunately silenced.

So who speaks for them?

We do.

Tags: Eric Cantor

The Foolish House Immigration ‘Principles’


All of punditry is now in the game of explaining what almost none of us saw coming in the Cantor race. But it seems pretty clear that one reason for the power of the immigration issue in the Cantor race was that the House leadership created the sense that it was desperate to do something on immigration — and therefore augmented the well-earned distrust of the political class on this issue — with its ill-considered immigration “principles.” It would have been better politics — and better substance — just to declare the Senate Gang of Eight bill flat-out dead, period, full-stop.

Tags: Eric Cantor



The effects of last night on the make-up of the House leadership will be extremely complex, and assuming that Cantor serves out his term and stays as majority leader, will play out over the course of the year. But I’m hearing that Cantor’s defeat makes it more likely that Boehner stays another term. He was comfortable with the idea of Cantor as a successor and now there’s no clear second-in-line.

Tags: Eric Cantor

Illegal Immigration and Eric Cantor


Eric Cantor’s luck ran out, when his long insistence of pushing immigration-reform legislation finally coincided with a massive and sudden rush of thousands to the U.S. border from Central America. That lining up of the planets explains why a good but obscure candidate beat a supposedly invincible insider. 

There are a number of elements to the illegal-immigration debate that really tick off people of all races and classes and drive them to the polls in a way the alliance of the Chamber of Commerce and La Raza activists can never comprehend. 

One, the issue really has become an elite/mass split. The left-wing identity-politics crowd knows that such huge numbers of illegal immigrants preclude easy assimilation and integration. They like that, given that they are self-appointed representatives of millions of new in-need constituents. And they don’t care whether illegal immigration is disastrous to the working American poor, among them millions of Hispanics — a fact that once caused an exasperated Cesar Chavez and the UFW to go down to the border to demand  an end to unchecked and unlawful immigration  (was he a “nativist“?). Likewise, the Republican elite establishment is shielded from the direct effects of illegal immigration, in the sense that their neighborhoods, their schools, and their emergency rooms are quite distant from the ground-zero landscapes where millions have entered the U.S. illegally. So fronting for big corporations to have access to cheap labor is a rather easy thing to do, unethical as it is at a time of serial high unemployment.

 Cantor, fairly or not, was emblematic of the abject amorality of illegal immigration.

Second, voters see the effort to push illegal immigration as Machiavellian. Supporters of “comprehensive immigration reform” never really divulge the details of their various amnesty plans: How many DUIs or felonies get one deported? Exactly how long do you have to reside in the U.S. to be eligible for a pathway to citizenship? Can you receive amnesty if your history of residency in the U.S. is largely one of dependency on public assistance? How exactly is the border to be declared secured before amnesties are offered, to prevent the sort of rush to the border we see now? Is Mexico really a “partner” or a cynical manipulator that wants a safety-valve for its own failures, many of them driven by racist policies toward indigenous peoples, a continuance of billions of dollars in remittances, and a soapbox for lambasting the U.S. that deflects attention from its own nativist and restrictionist immigration policies. 

As for new legal immigration reform, was it really going to be largely ethnically blind and based on meritocratic criteria, in which, say, a Nigerian with an electrical-engineering degree who has been waiting five years to enter the U.S. legally would be given preference over someone from Latin America without a high-school diploma but with a long history of crossing the border illegally? Voters doubt that.

Cantor and others have never answered candidly any of these questions, instead falling into the cheap rhetoric of demonizing those with legitimate inquiries. That he would trust Barack Obama to enforce any of the elements of comprehensive immigration reform that did not enhance Obama’s visions of increasing the number of liberal constituents who would vote for big-government programs is incomprehensible — after what we have seen with the present administration’s sabotage of immigration law and the pick-and-choose enforcement of Obamacare

Voters in Virginia finally had enough with the big lie of illegal immigration: Those who want open borders are largely either ethnic activists and chauvinists who wish open borders on the south, but would never extend such laxity to other ethnic groups (e.g., La Raza activists would oppose 1 million Chinese, Nigerians, or Ukrainian nationals trying to cross illegally into the American Southwest), or want access to cheap labor, with employers pocketing the profits while the state and thus the taxpayer pick up the inevitable social costs of their exploitation of labor.

Yesterday, we saw that voters don’t like being called names by those who are both hypocrites and nakedly self-interested in putting their own selfish agendas over the concerns of the less well-off.

Tags: Eric Cantor

The Victory Behind Cantor’s Defeat


It’s amusing to watch the strange new respect Democrats are mustering for Eric Cantor. Xavier Becerra was on Morning Joe lamenting how Eric was just the sort of responsible Republican who wanted to get things done. I think Hugh Hewitt is right that Dems like Becerra don’t want to fix immigration so much as have the issue. But I do think the White House really does want a big immigration bill as part of their effort to pad his legacy. That’s why they are in overdrive to claim that, in Dan Pfeiffer’s words, “Cantor’s problem wasn’t his position on immigration reform, it was his lack of a position.” A White House aide notes that Lindsey Graham won his race running away and he’s far more associated with immigration reform than Cantor was. This of course leaves out the fact that Graham is a much better retail politician than Cantor. It leaves out that Graham saw the threat coming years ago​ and wisely panicked early about a tea-party challenge. And it leaves out that Graham was in a seven-way race. If he’d had a single opponent, like Cantor (or Cochran), who knows how differently things would have played out.

Now, I actually think there’s a grain of truth to Pfeiffer’s point. As John Fund notes below, Cantor’s biggest problem was that he seemed insincere, elitist, aloof, and concerned about agendas not connected to his district or his base. He held a fundraising meeting at D.C. Starbucks on primary day. Some of this was driven by his personality. The guy, even off the record, always seemed to be on message (though I should say I always found him to be personally gracious and decent). But the notion that immigration wasn’t the symbolic heart of Cantor’s problem strikes me as nothing less than ridiculous. And the idea that GOP congressmen are going to put much stock in the White House’s spin is flat-out unhinged.

And that is surely good news. I actually want Congress to do some things on immigration, but I’m against comprehensive immigration reform for the simple reason that I don’t trust huge sweeping legislation. I prefer doing things in digestible, piecemeal, bits. In the case of immigration, border security seems like a good place to start. The Democrats hate that idea for lots of reasons, but chief among them is they like winning unpopular stuff by attaching it to popular stuff. That’s one reason the Democrats have been so slow to consider mental health as a stand-alone issue in the context of mass shootings. They understood that even the NRA and the GOP base believe we should do more to keep certifiably crazy people from getting guns. And that’s why they pushed for sweeping gun-control measures while arguing anyone who disagreed wanted more madmen with guns. Republicans held firm in their opposition to sweeping gun-control laws and now, after even more shootings by crazy people, at least some Democrats are willing to do the right thing and deal with this issue independent from their larger gun control agenda.

Last night amidst the blizzard of chatter about Eric Cantor’s defeat, I tweeted, “Just for the record, a vote for Eric Cantor really wasn’t a ‘vote for open borders.’” This elicited a lot of dyspepsia in some folks. But it’s true. Cantor may have been wrong — or simply untrustworthy — on immigration, but his position was never to “open the borders.” Michael Brendan Dougherty, however, had a good response: “But a vote for Brat was definitely a vote against them.”

And that is certainly true also.

If there’s one takeaway on the immigration issue from Cantor’s defeat it’s that sweeping comprehensive legislation is not going to happen any time soon. I would say 2017 is the earliest it would be considered. That’s good news. Democrats had reason — good reason — to doubt Republican conviction on this point. They looked at the Chamber of Commerce, the beltway establishment, and leaders like Cantor and figured a grand bargain could be made. Well, now all doubt should be dispelled. Even pro comprehensive reform Republicans can — and will — plausibly tell Democrats, “Look, it’s simply out of my hands.” No grand bargain is coming down the pike for the foreseeable future. The only immigration reforms that can pass now would have to be targeted, narrow, and broadly popular (which means they would have to address conservative concerns). That’s not bad news for immigration reform, it’s bad news for Democratic immigration strategy.

Tags: Eric Cantor

Take a Victory Lap, Mickey Kaus, Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham!


From the Wednesday Morning Jolt:

Mega-Earthquake: Eric Cantor Loses GOP Primary to Dave Brat

Kirsten Anderson: “For my non-political but still nerdy friends, the primary election in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District tonight is kind of like the ‘Red Wedding’ Game of Thrones episode for politics.”

This is why we hold elections. Sometimes, a broad bipartisan consensus emerges that represents the views of the business community, activists, lobbyists, the media . . . everybody except the folks who actually vote.

A significant portion of Republican voters loathe anything that smells like amnesty with the passion of a thousand blazing suns going supernova. Immigration reform is not going to get through the House before midterms — good news for GOP unity heading into November — and there will never be significant GOP support for any Obama-backed immigration reform bill.

The bad news is, Obama’s going to enact as much as he can, as close to a broad amnesty plan as possible, through executive orders.

Take a victory lap, Mickey Kaus, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham.

Lauren Luxenberg puts it in perspective: “Eric Cantor won his last GOP primary with 79 percent of the vote.”

Cantor and his allies can’t blame low turnout for this one. My old colleague Derek Willis noted that the 2012 primary turnout was surpassed with only 71 percent of the precincts reporting. “People who ran David Brat’s turnout operation are gonna be getting some phone calls, methinks.”

Dave Levinthal: “Eric Cantor raised $5.4 million this election cycle. Dave Brat just north of $200,000. Money usually matters. This isn’t one of those times.”

Brit Hume, speaking on Fox News last night:

This is bad news, long term for Republicans, because it is argued by some that immigration reform will never pass, because the Republicans feel chastened by the Cantor loss. Republicans will go into 2016 without having their names attached to immigration reform. I’m not sure I buy that, but that is what you’ll be hearing in this town. Conventional wisdom forms quickly.

For what it is worth, some locals strongly disagree with that interpretation; A Morning Jolt reader in Cantor’s district writes in:

I think everyone on FOX and the other channels who are seeing something bigger than local politics here are missing the boat entirely. Brat ran a very Obama-like campaign, using the local Tea Party to get out the vote among low information voters (“Cantor agrees with Obama on amnesty” was Brat’s message). I don’t think there is any “big” message tonight, other than all politics is local.

But make no mistake, this is a terrible night for VA-7 — we just voted out a man with a 95 percent ACU lifetime rating, and replaced him with a man I am pretty sure is not a “life-long conservative” and soon probably we will see someone more liberal than Eric replace him as Republican leader.

On one of my mailing lists, somebody quipped, “Every single Cantor operative on that race should consider selling popsicles and burgers — incredible act of not knowing the district.”

But as another campaign veteran pointed out, Cantor’s pollster, McLaughlin & Associates, ought to be cut a smidgen of slack for degree of difficulty: Polling House districts is hard, polling House district primaries is even harder, and polling a U.S. House district primary without a baseline for turnout in a competitive primary in recent cycles is particularly difficult.

Phil Klein: “ ‘Tea Party is dead’ narrative now as dead as immigration reform.”

James Pethokoukis: “Losing Eric Cantor means GOP loses someone with a deep and thoughtful understanding of the economic challenges facing modern USA.”

Kevin Madden: “Every election is a job interview for candidates. Never show up late to a job interview.”

Democrats will get excited about knocking off Brat in the general election race, but note this is an R+10 district.

Tags: Eric Cantor , Dave Brat


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