BratBy Peter Galuszka

The jockeying for power among Virginia conservatives is certainly curious if not frightening. It seems the diminished Tea Party is trying to make a comeback and relive its heyday of 2010 at the expense of moderates.

I personally hope they don’t because the movement brings up far too much hateful baggage of xenophobia, racism and mindless cost cutting while posturing as true-blue Americans. The more they do this, the more they conjure up some unsavory memories in American history such as the Know-Nothings or the Ku Klux Klan.

The flash point seems to be David Brat, an economics professor at Randolph Macon College in Ashland. Brat is trying to give House Majority Leader Eric Cantor a run for his money, which in itself, is not a bad thing.

Cantor has long been the tool of the white Richmond area elite. He used to be solidly Main Street although he did try to jump ahead of the Tea Party parade in 2009 and 2010 and it seemed very awkward. By conservative standards, Cantor is much more of a moderate than one might expect. The Heritage Action for America rates Cantor at 52 percent for conservative voting. Robert Goodlatte gets a whopping 75 percent Mark Warner (good for him) only 2 percent.

This is where it gets weird. Brat complains that Cantor isn’t conservative enough or tough enough on undocumented workers and the like. Cantor fires back with over-the-top ads claiming that Brat is a closet liberal for having worked on a bi-partisan economics group for Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine.

Meanwhile, reliable GOP operative Linwood Cobb gets ousted by Tea Party firebrand Fred Gruber as head of the 7th Congressional District Republican Committee.Cantor’s 7th District stretches from the booming, mostly white suburbs of Henrico County to rural, sleepy farmlands into Madison. There’s plenty of Main Street and Tea Party to spare in the district.

According to The Washington Post, the fringe conservatives in the GOP are angry that moderate Republicans are going forth with more sensible policies than sticking it to the innocent children of undocumented workers and trying to turn the clock backwards to ban same-sex marriage.

That just ain’t going to happen with lawsuits popping up all over the place and court rulings overturning. Eleven state and federal courts have ruled in favor of ending same-sex marriage bans, including Virginia. In fact, the Old Dominion’s case was heard at the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals this week and it, another or all will end up at the Supreme Court at some point. The momentum is clearly towards allowing same-sex marriage.

Brat has said he wants to return power from the federal level to the states, but if it means facilitating discriminating marriage bans I hope he fails.

It will be fascinating watching this all play out. The Tea Party rode a wave of bitter frustration resulting from the Great Recession that cut across both parties. It hit upon a mixed, mash-up of themes involving populism, raw Americanism, anti-Obamaism, and so on. It has been, by turns, a reaction to the tremendous inequality imbalance and pure racism. In other words, it’s part of many unrelated and sometimes unsavory themes. I went to some Tea Party meetings and found some bright folks and also people I thought should be locked up as border-line dangerous.

What seems to be lacking now is any intelligent policy planning for the slowly growing economy. While the feds have bailed out failing banks, there’s little help for the average borrower who needs help. Thus, they are forced or choose to hang on to cash and spending is anemic.

If Brat is supposed to be an economist, one would assume he might understand these things. I guess it wouldn’t matter anyway, because Virginia’s system of state and federal electoral districts is rigged so that a tiny minority of outspoken crackpots gets to be kingmaker. This is not likely to happen with Cantor during this June’s GOP primary but it a scary and real possibility.

And it is yet another reason why the Democrats like Terry McAuliffe and Mark Herring are increasingly turning to or are considering turning to independent or executive actions (not supporting the same-sex ban, stripping back McDonnell-Cuccinelli-era regulation of abortion clinics, possibly expanding Medicaid by order).

The Brats and the Cantors have done plenty to destroy bipartisanship. The state and the nation face far more serious challenges than letting gays get married or putting the screws to a hard-working, tax-paying worker who happens to be undocumented because he or she was brought to this country at age four.

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7 responses to “Cantor’s Brat Problem”

  1. There are nuggets of insight scattered through this piece but it is marred by the recurring tarring of the Tea Party as “racist.” I have my disagreements with the Tea Party but in all my dealings with Tea Party groups I have seen no manifestations of racism. Racism is entirely imputed liberals largely o the grounds that the only reason conservative Americans could possibly oppose Barack Obama’s liberal policy prescriptions is because they are racist. This is defamatory nonsense. I love the way liberals vilify their opponents then praise themselves for their tolerance moderation.

    Here’s another Peter-ism that tickles me. McAuliffe and Herring are resorting (or thinking of resorting) to governance-by-executive action because “the Brats and Cantors have done plenty to destroy bipartisanship.” Let’s see if I get this right… McAuliffe and Herring skip the legislative process entirely and it’s the conservatives who are destroying bipartisanship?

    This is another old and crusty liberal tactic — every time there is a major partisan disagreement that leads to gridlock, accuse the Republicans and/or conservatives of destroying bipartisanship. “If you don’t agree with our highly partisan measure, you are destroying bipartisanship!”

  2. DJRippert Avatar

    Yeah, and Paul Krugman and other members of the marxist mafia are using their misdirection and deception skills to mislead from the left.

    Both extremes deserve ridicule and derision.

    As for racism, I am always fascinated to hear liberals declare that people like Clarence Thomas and Alan West are “not really black”, “oreos”, “Uncle Toms”, etc. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin and every one of the many women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault instantly become “bimbos”.

    When libtard icon Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a bimbo and Michelle Bachman “the c-word” there was no liberal outcry for him to be dismissed as a sexist.

    Where was the condemnation when Alabama state Rep. Alvin Holmes called Justice Thomas an “Uncle Tom” and a “double stuffed oreo”?

    In March of this year, Alvin Holmes – paragon of post-racial America said, “Ninety-nine percent of the all of the white people in here are going to raise their hand that they are against abortion,” he said. “On the other hand, 99 percent of the whites who are sitting in here now, if their daughter got pregnant by a black man, they are going to make their daughter have an abortion.”

    Yeah, Peter – it’s just the Tea Party who are the racists and sexists.

    Does liberal favorite Jessie Jackson still call New York City Hymietown?

    “You cannot go to a 7-11 or Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian Accent.” — Joe Biden

    Obama is a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” – Harry Reid

    “Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them.” — Mary Frances Berry, former Chairwoman, US Commission on Civil Rights

    Of course, blithering idiot Mary Frances Berry then managed to accidentally blurt out a truth:

    “Tainting the tea party movement with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. There is no evidence that tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans. But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one’s opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness.” — Mary Frances Berry, former Chairwoman, US Commission on Civil Rights

    “The point I was making was not that Grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person…” — Barack Obama

    “We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops. They ought to go.” — Marion Barry

  3. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    I never said all Tea Partiers are racist. Jamie Radtke never was.

    But some are and do wrap themselves up in a very White Anglo-Saxon Protestant sense of “America.” When I was at a New Kent Tea Party meeting, the only black person there was E.W. Jackson who was a speaker.

    So DJR, ok, you have your list of stupid things liberals have said,. So what? Do you want a list of stupid things I have said? I can provide one.

    Baconator, McA has tried everything he can think of to get movement on Medicaid… a privatized form, a trial period, anything. Absolutely no go from Bill Howell who wants to trash everything — including the budget and state jobs — just to do it. If he’s trying to squeeze some anti-Obama juice for elections he’d better check how ObamaCare is really going. So who’s the bad guy? What is McA to do? Start a national movement to “reform” Medicaid and deny poor people care?

  4. JohnS Avatar

    I usually admire your journalism Peter, but this is nothing more than a cheap shot piece.

    In your haste to smear Tea Partiers as a bunch of xenophobic/homophobic Ralph Kramden-types you either missed or chose to ignore the real story, which is the tidal wave of conservative resentment towards the establishment GOP and its impotent leadership.

    Maybe you can’t relate. When you punch that liberal ticket you know what you’re going to get. The Democrats deliver on their agenda of hammering private enterprise to pay for Obamacare and the burgeoning welfare state.

    The party of Reagan elects representatives like Eric Cantor based on promises to protect the vitality of free markets and reign in the largesse of the federal government, and what do we get in return?

    It isn’t about who’s the true conservative at this point. I don’t doubt that Cantor believes in the cause, but it’s scoreboard time and the liberals have had their way with him. So when he comes back to Short Pump he has to answer for Obamacare. Conservatives are ripped, but the dyed-in-the-wool Republicans in the small business community are mad as hell… and they’re not going to take it anymore.

    So here’s one vote for Professor Brat, and it has absolutely nothing to do with gay marriage or undocumented workers.

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    John S.
    I did not say that all Tea Party types are racists. If you read what I wrote, I said some were bright, intelligent, useful etc. But from what I have seen with my own eyes, having been to Tea Party gathers and its Richmond convention a few years ago, they are a big, disorganized eclectic group. You have everyone from serious, decent Ayn Rand people to gun toting nut jobs to anti-immigant (notably those not white) whackoes.
    Who is the Tea Party you are referring to?

  6. larryg Avatar

    re: ” but in all my dealings with Tea Party groups I have seen no manifestations of racism.”


    where do you think these racist images came from?

    if you are not seeing racism – you are not looking.. or you are ignoring.

    I’ll not say all of any group are doing it but a sufficient number are and it’s so obvious I have to wonder who is really “not” seeing it.

    where do you think it is coming from – liberals?

    I think you folks who say there is no racism – are in denial.

    sorry. It’s not only present – it’s present IN THE RANKS of the GOP – sub-human mongrel?

    take a look at the video – and tell me you don’t see racism.

  7. larryg Avatar

    okay JimB – you tell me, you too DJ – that you’ve never seen this kind of thing… come on guys… you’re in denial here.

    You can’t admit there is racism going on with Obama?

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