Thursday, May 25 , 2017, 4:33 am | Overcast 56º

 
 
 
 

Mark Shields: Eric Cantor Defeat in Virginia Leaves Republicans Reeling

Let’s be perfectly blunt. Ever since House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., lost his primary to the underfunded Dave Brat, we political pundits (yes, I’m a card-carrying member) have been publicly embarrassing ourselves.

Within hours of the polls closing, commentators and analysts, none of whom had predicted Cantor even being in trouble, were arrogantly telling the world exactly why long-shot Brat won — and what his victory meant for Congress, the country and the Republican Party.

Sorry, but as somebody — it was either Winston Churchill or Ozzy Osbourne — wisely noted, the winners get to write history. That, in this case, would be Brat, who campaigned as an unwavering opponent of comprehensive immigration reform, calling it “the most symbolic issue that captures the difference between myself and Eric Cantor in this race, but it also captures the fissure between Main Street and Wall Street.” He argued that Wall Street and “the Chamber of Commerce” both “want cheap labor, and that’s going to lower wages for everybody else.”

For House Republicans, for the foreseeable future, immigration reform legislation has become their third rail of American politics — a place of danger to be carefully avoided as potentially fatal to their own political survival. Nobody can explain House Republicans better than former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., a former eight-term congressman as well as one-time chairman of the campaign committee responsible for electing Republicans to the House.

Asked by Audie Cornish on NPR if Tea Party House Republicans were now confident that they were winning, Davis was candid: “Well, they are in many ways and having seen Cantor defeated sends chills down the spine of members when it comes to taking a vote on compromising or working with the president, because you can topple the majority leader — who is seen as the most conservative member of the Republican leadership, and he is not conservative enough. What does that mean for me?”

Immigration reform is officially dead, killed by House Republicans. The Democrats, with President Barack Obama, whose negative sixth-year job rating is a lot closer to that of the unpopular George W. Bush than to the soaring numbers earned by Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, don’t have a historical precedent to give them any realistic confidence about winning a third consecutive White House term in 2016. But the GOP now appears determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of potential victory by further alienating Latino voters, Asian voters and all voters who, for example, believe that we, Americans, don’t punish children for the “sins” of their parents.

This value was well-expressed some 13 years ago by the governor of the first state to pass, by a vote of 142-1 in the state House and by 27-3 in the state Senate, a law to permit academically qualified high school graduates who were in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition at state universities. Here is what that governor said: “We must say to every child learning in (our) classrooms, ‘we don’t care where you came from, but where you are going, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get there.’ And that vision must include the children of undocumented workers.”

Those were the words of the governor of the first state in the nation to pass its own DREAM Act, Republican Rick Perry of Texas. The year was 2001. Three years later, Bush would win 44 percent of the Latino vote against John Kerry. For a Republican Party that cannot even speak the words “undocumented workers,” sadly, that past is not a prologue.

Mark Shields is one of the most widely recognized political commentators in the United States. The former Washington Post editorial columnist appears regularly on CNN, on public television and on radio. Click here to contact him, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >