Regardless of the impact on the immigration debate, Cantor’s loss potentially opens up a leadership crisis.
The primary loss for a sitting majority leader is unprecedented. It’s unclear whether Cantor will even serve the remainder of his term.
The “term” referenced above is apparently Cantor’s term as House majority leader.
A chastened House leadership will struggle to do the most basic functions of governance — increasing the debt limit, funding the government and passing routine bills — further alienating Congress with the middle of the electorate, said Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York.
How does any other legislation move in Congress the rest of the year? Remember, Cantor and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan have traded places over the last couple of years as the go-between with Tea Party Republicans to get them to move on legislation. With Cantor’s loss, who steps in to be this intermediary? The irony here, of course, is that this Tea Party victory over the establishment didn’t come with national Tea Party support — Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks, and Club for Growth didn’t target Cantor (probably because he was one of their chief allies in leadership).
These stories demonstrate a couple of the reasons I despise politics. One reason is because the paid occupation of politics has little to do with effective governance, as evidenced by the fact that symbolic losses cripple a politician’s ability to work. They are not “leaders”, they are PR reps and fundraisers.
One could argue that the essence of leadership is symbolic and that its primary function is to marshal resources. To that extent, however, a leader is a dispensable abstraction, not “a great man” but rather a great puff of smoke or a cardboard cutout.
Another reason I despise politics is because the various identifications, coalitions, and oppositions are transitory and meaningless. The parties and other groupings are inherently unprincipled, being contingent on changing circumstances and changing desires.
Again, one could argue that this is what defines any organized society. I don’t want to denigrate organized society as such. It only becomes a problem when people internalize those identifications and create ideologies that lack substance.
Anyone who believes the free market should control all aspects of life will eventually sell his vote to the highest bidder. [Weekly Sift]
Doug Muder points to the rest of Thomas Frank’s description of free-market ideology:
Why is it that Republicans are uniquely prone to this cycle of idealism and betrayal? I think the answer is simple: Because free-market idealism is a philosophy that automatically leads to betrayal—and also to misgovernment, and cronyism, and even corruption, as we saw in the DeLay era. The movement’s greatest idealists often turn out to be its greatest scoundrels—think of Jack Abramoff, or of Oliver North, or (as Rick Perlstein has pointed out) the gang of hard-right purists who signed up to do dirty tricks for Richard Nixon. In truth, there seems to be no real contradiction between conservative morality and following the money; to be a capitalist true-believer is to sell yourself.
Free-market idealism, after all, is about applying market forces to the state. This is what everything from Citizens United to toll-road privatization is all about. To be true to such a principle means respecting incentives, answering the call of money.
Yes, that is the basic problem with letting the financial free market dictate public policy. Only a vague patriotism supported by civic religion and rational idealism prevent US petty officials from being as corrupt as they are in most bureaucracies.
On the other hand, the news about Cantor’s primary loss demonstrates the actual value of a democratic political system, which is to keep politicians constantly in a state of fear. When politicians are not in a state of fear, it is because they are about kill or enslave some of the people under their control.
The other reason I despise politics, not necessarily shown directly by the above references, is that the popular, non-journalistic, unpaid occupation of politics is even less meaningful than discussions about spectator sports. It has no effect on actual policies or government actions. It’s only effect on ordinary people is to reinforce their little social groups and personal whims. That is what most people have in mind when they “talk politics” or say they are “interested in politics.”