House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's primary defeat in Virginia to the Tea Party backed Dave Brat illustrates two points clearly. One, the Tea party is far from dead, as some on the Left and in the Republican establishment had wished. And two, money in politics is not the pariah to democracy that some complain vociferously that it is.
Mr. Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, defeated Mr. Cantor by a comfortable twelve point margin. And in as much as the establishment on both sides of the aisle have been trying to talk the Tea Party to an early political demise, this victory over a Republican, who among other conservative transgressions, has supported a form of amnesty for illegal aliens, is a warning shot across the bow of any Republican who would sacrifice conservative principles for political expediency.
Additionally, this defeat of an entrenched incumbent like Majority Leader Cantor, who out raised his unknown challenger by $5 million to $206,663, is an example that money does not always mean political victory. In the end, it is a well informed electorate that decides election outcomes, and free speech should not be limited by restricting campaign donations or spending. The big spenders in politics lose more often than is admitted by those who wish to limit spending on political campaigns. Just ask Mitt Romney, who spent over $100 million of his own money on two bids for the presidency, and came up short both times.
The political pundits are already enshrining Eric Cantor's loss in the tabernacle of immigration reform. Saying that his support for that one issue spelled demise for his hopes of two more years in the House of Representatives. But Mr. Cantor has shown himself to be weak-kneed and jelly-spined on other issues, most notably spending limit increases and continuing resolutions. Political observers should not underestimate the anger among the conservative base over Mr. Cantor and his fellow Republicans who supported the recent debt limit increase, when they essentially gave President Obama the ability to spend as much as he wants. After all, it was over spending by the federal government that gave rise to the Tea Party in the first place.
The Eric Cantor primary loss may be a one off event, or it may be a harbinger of a political tsunami that will wash away some in Washington who wish to conduct the nation's business with constitutional disregard and a politics-as-usual modus operandi. We must all wait to see which path the electorate will choose this Fall and in the general election in 2016. The path of responsible government that travels the tightly constructed rails laid by the Founders, or the unrestricted, boundless and free-floating authoritarian path that has grown government in recent years to metastasize in the vital organ of liberty itself.