Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Eric Cantor's Very Bad Night

The Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, Eric Cantor, was crushed in the Republican primary in Virginia, despite outspending his completely unknown Republican opponent 40 to one. It is the first time since the creation of the position in 1899 that a sitting House Majority Leader was defeated in his own party's primary election.

The USA establishment news media (well, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, the two establishment media stories I read; I simply do not watch much news on TV) quickly formulated the line that Cantor's defeat was caused by an uprising of extreme right-wing Tea Party insurgents, unhappy with Cantor's support for some form of immigration policy reform.

But, a DailyKos diary, Cantor's End: A Cooter d'Etat? explained that there was Democratic meddling in the Republican primary. The diary title is a play on the nickname of  Ben "Cooter" Jones, who Cantor defeated back in 2002. Jones had mounted what now appears to be a very successful campaign to get Democrats to vote in the Republican primary to deny Cantor a place in the November general election.

On Tuesday, the day of the Virginia primary, nuketeacher on DailyKos repeated "Cooter" Jones' call for Democrats to come out and vote in the Republican primary against Cantor. nuketeacher's appeal is noteworthy for the larger, strategic view it included: "Cantor intends to run for President some day soon.  Defeating him today will wound him deeply and may prevent him from becoming a credible candidate for that."

It was also interesting that the Cantor campaign appeared to be governed by incompetence.
We have been getting MANY calls from the Cantor camp to get out and vote.  So many that I am very certain it is being counterproductive for them.  They do not know if I am for Cantor or Brat, and yet they have called us 4 times in the last two days to remind us that today is election day and to please vote for Cantor.  They should know by now that I am a Democrat, but still they call.  This means they are also calling all the people who are upset with Cantor and likely Brat supporters.
I hope, going into the November general elections, this is a generalization that applies to the Republican Party on a national level as well. 

The WaPo article on the Democratic meddling vote is really bizarre. It provides some detailed statistical evidence, including from a handful of precincts, and then claims that the evidence disproves there was any large surge of Democrats voting in the Republican primary. My thought is that the evidence cited exactly fits the pattern one would expect to see if there were a concerted effort by Democrats to vote in the Republican primary to defeat Cantor. I think this claiming the evidence points to a completely opposite conclusion is a rather standard tactic by the establishment media when it is trying to enforce a particular view. Such as "there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

A more truthful WaPo article was the the short one on how there actually was no substantial support given to Professor Brat by national Tea Party organizations.

Cantor was defeated by David Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. The WaPo article on Professor Brat notes that "His faculty Web site... features photos of Adam Smith, John Calvin, Friedrich Hayek, and John Maynard Keynes in the four corners."  All too typical of American economists completely ignorant of the actual economic history of their own country that they would idolize four economists who are not even Americans (well, three economists - Calvin was a theologian). I would have pictures of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Carey, and Thorstein Veblen gracing my website. I especially like the tension created by including both Hamilton and Jefferson, who represent the two poles of USA economic history: planning for a modern industrial economy, while trying to preserve the civic virtue and egalitarian democracy of an agrarian economy. Americans used to understand this tension quite well, and even honored it. Here is a picture of the main entrance to the Cuyahoga County Courthouse in Cleveland, Ohio, with a statue of Jefferson on the left, and one of Hamilton on the right, erected in 1908 and 1914. Ironically, considering the massively destructive role Austrian economics has played in the dismantling of the USA industrial economy, the sculptor was Karl Bitter, born and trained in Vienna.

In a fairly typical Republican political tactic of completely ignoring the truth, Cantor's campaign tried to scare conservative voters away from supporting Brat by labeling him a  "liberal college professor."
I can only marvel at the stupidity of this tactic, because I cannot imagine any voter in Virginia actually believing that a "liberal college professor" would be a Republican, let alone a Republican candidate for a major elected office. All this tactic does is show how blatantly Cantor and his supporters are willing to lie and spread falsehoods in their quest to attain and retain political power.

The Wall Street Journal profile of Bart notes some of the titles the professor has written. These include "An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand," and “God and Advanced Mammon – Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism?” Brat claims to not be a Randian, but it appears that he does not share the late Chuck Colson's conclusion that Ayn Rand's economic beliefs boil down to satanism, a worship of self. Brat reportedly told an interviewer from the conservative National Review that "while he isn't a Randian, he has been influenced by Atlas Shrugged and appreciates Rand's case for human freedom and free markets."

Moreover, one profiler of Brat notes that
Brat headed a controversial, Randian-funded economics program at his college. As Danielle Kurtzleben explains here, this is the BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism program, which has been controversial at other universities for including Ayn Rand's ideas in its curricula. The program's funder, former BB&T bank CEO John Allison, has been a long-time promoter of Rand's philosophy.
BB&T is one of the largest USA regional banks, with $185 billion is assets, and headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

In a more hopeful sign, Brat has reportedly written an unpublished economics textbook which severely criticizes the economics profession for its pretension of being scientific. This does not quite counterbalance Brad's acceptance of the validity of Rand's economic beliefs, however.

As for the question of usury, readers of Real Economics know that usury is the fundamental economic process that has historically destroyed entire nations and civilizations in the past; usury is destroying ours nations and civilizations, now; and the established churches have utterly failed to identify usury in action today, and condemn its effects. Again, I will not know whether or not Professor Bart has reached the same conclusions until I have perused his writings. But, I hope that there are religious conservatives such as Brat, somewhere, and at some point, who are driven by stark reality to these conclusions. Brat earned a Master of Divinity in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1990, before going on to a PhD in economics at American University in 1995.

But I think it is safe to conclude at this time that whether or not David Brat fully recognizes the full evil of Ayn Rand's views, as well as the evil of usury, replacing Eric Cantor with David Brat is only a marginal improvement in the U.S. political situation, and the best news is: there will probably never be a President Cantor screwing things up.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Tony.

    I have a theory for Cantor's loss. Cantor is a Wall Street douche who was beaten by an ordinary douche. If that's the dynamic at play, I like it a lot.