June 11, 2014

ROGER KIMBALL: Eric Cantor and the Conventional Wisdom.

From where I sit, the response of “responsible leaders,” i.e., representatives of the convention wisdom, has been mostly confined to what they used to call in the wild West a circling of the wagons. Demonize the bastards. Ostracize ’em. Talk incessantly about “fringe candidates” and “extremists” who cannot win (except they just did), who will upset the status quo, which by an extraordinary coincidence just happens to benefit those registering their “shock,” their having been “stunned,” “staggered,” not to say “utterly dismayed.”

Both parties have been assiduous in demonizing the Tea Party. And they’ve been quite effective in convincing themselves that it was yesterday’s news, that the upsets of 2010 were an anomaly, that business-as-usual (represented by us mature politicians who are already in office) had once again achieved the upper hand. Order, in short, had been restored.

Except that unexpected things like David Brat’s victory, like UKIP’s victory in the European election, keep happening. . . .

Which brings me to the other aspect of the Cantor Conundrum, the Brat Braining: the contention that, in addition to being “staggering,” “stunning,” etc., it is also of vast importance. Is it? In the sense that it (like the European elections of a fortnight ago) bespeaks a profound unease among the electorate with politics (and, nota bene pollsters: politicians) as usual, I’d say, yes, it is important. We’ve been told that the “tea party” is a spent force. The trouble is, the millions of ordinary people who are disgusted with Washington, who fear and loath the the rise of the imperial state with its vast armory of regulation and surveillance, not to mention its untouchable self-enriching nomenklatura — those millions haven’t gotten the memo. They don’t know that their interests and desires are de trop, even though their masters in Washington have done everything possible to reinforce that idea.

Yeah, how’s that working out?