I heard a fascinating comment last night on The Rachel Maddow Show last night. There was a group discussion about Eric Cantor's loss in the Virginia primary, and one of the guests was another Virginia congressman, Democrat Jim Moran. While everyone was discussing the various reasons for the loss, Mr. Moran noted that in one way, Eric Cantor only had himself to blame.
He went on to explain that Virginia recently re-districted the state, and Cantor's own district was particularly gerrymandered to make it especially safe. Very conservative. No chance of a Democrat winning. But the problem was that the district was seemingly too conservative. And that's what ended up backfiring on Eric Cantor.
The others on the panel asked Rep. Moran if Cantor was involved with the gerrymandering. "Oh, I can assure you that Eric Cantor was in regularly contact with the statehouse when they were redistricting."
As they say in the wise cliche department -- Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
An interior poll in the Canter campaign showed they were 34% ahead. One can't even imagine their shock. (Combined with Mitt Romney certain he'd be elected president from his own internal polls, it does raise the question of relying on one's internal polls.)
Another odd factor that hasn't been much addressed is that the week before the election, former Democratic Congressman Ben Jones (who played "Cooter" on The Dukes of Hazzard) -- who had lost in an earlier election to Mr. Cantor -- publicly suggested that Democrats cross over in the open primary and vote for Eric Cantor's opponent. I've yet to see any data on whether that occurred. It would certainly explain why the internal poll was so off, though it's still such a long-shot, unlikelihood. But...who knows. ("Who knows" is a common phrase heard around this election.)
As I noted yesterday, it was clear what terror this would send through the Republican Party. If I had to guess what the impact will be, it will move everything even farther to the right, since that's the easiest "quick fix." But over time, they'll be SO far to the right that the party will see the larger problem of being so deeply in bed with the radical right Tea Party corporation (tm) wing of the party that they'll start to address extricating themselves from it.
Or something else will happen. Who knows...?
After I posted a comment on Facebook and link to my article here last night, I got a range of responses. Mostly positive, with a bunch of Favorites and Retweets, but there were plenty of criticisms, with warm disagreements like "Moron" and "I know BS when I see it" and "#ignorance" and "bullshit."
(One of the finer ones, referencing the Virginia Republicans who voted out Eric Cantor, explain to me that the reason was " No you idiot, they want to take care of the US citizens that are jobless & hungry FIRST! Stop the BULLSHIT!" I noted in reply that if they actually wanted to take care of the jobless and people who were hungry, then they should probably be Democrats. He or she didn't take that well.)
But the most dogged as a fellow who started out polite, writing "respectfully" and became more and more upset. I later checked his website and saw that he described himself as "US Navy Veteran, Patriot, Constitutionalist. Military bloodline to Revolutionary War. Live Free or Die." Y'know, I probably should have checked there first...
The -- let's call it "discussion" -- moved to the Dream Act, which you will be surprised to learn he hated. He asked me to explain why it was fair, though I said that that would be difficult in 140 characters, but suggested he could read it. It finally got to the point where he wrote --
What I wanted to write back was --
"That sounds very patriotic. Though, of course, if the Dream Act passes and becomes law, you would be defending it, right, as the Law of the Land? And since you took an oath to defend the Constitution, I assume that means that you defend a woman's right to abortion, and Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and the Affordable Care Act, right? Though as patriotic as your words sound, you do understand that it's the same thing that was probably said when patriotic Americans were arguing against ending slavery and giving womenfolk the vote. And besides, it's a big country, we can probably do more than one thing at a time. My suggestion is for you to explain specifically what it is that you have against creating a fair, even-handed path to citizenship, rather than lobbing meaningless bromides "
But that was more than 140 characters. And it would probably get him so angry that spit and fire would come through my monitor, and I'd just have to clean it all up. So, instead I just wrote back --
"Is there anything I could say that would convince you why the Dream Act would be fair and a good law? If so, what? If not, why try?"
I haven't heard back. It's a good question to remember to ask if you ever find yourself caught in the life-sucking vortex of a supposed debate...
Self-deception is a tricky beast. "Serve the underprivileged US citizens 1st." You bet. I agree. Though perhaps what I should have written was -- Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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