What does Eric Cantor’s loss mean? Gridlock until 2023

June 12, 2014

Cantor and Boehner hold a news conference after a Republican Party caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington

Gridlock is likely to rule the federal government until at least 2023.  Why 2023?  Because it may not be until after the 2020 Census that the Democrats have a good chance of regaining control of the House of Representatives.

As long as Republicans rule the House, compromise with Democrats is out of the question.  Look at what happened to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in Tuesday’s GOP primary.  Cantor is nobody’s idea of a compromiser. But because he did the minimum necessary to keep government operating — like voting to raise the debt ceiling and to end the government shutdown — Cantor was branded a traitor to the conservative cause.  Cantor’s ultimate transgression?  His Tea Party opponent displayed a photo of the House majority leader standing next to President Barack Obama.   Oh, the horror!

The 2010 Republican landslide gave the party control of most state governments. The GOP-controlled state governments, which reconfigured congressional district boundaries after the 2010 census, drew lines that would protect and expand GOP control of the House. The next census is in 2020. That’s two presidential elections away.

Obama sits alongside John Boehner during the unveiling of a statue in honor of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in WashingtonIf Democrats do well that year, they may be able to control enough state governments to redraw the lines in their favor. The new districts may be in effect for the 2022 election.  The House elected in 2022 will take office in 2023. Maybe then gridlock will break. That’s a long time away. And a lot of maybes.

There’s another way to break gridlock, of course. All the country has to do is elect a Republican president in 2016. But that is looking more and more difficult as the Tea Party expands its influence over the GOP.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is the most electable potential Republican presidential candidate. He may be the only electable potential Republican presidential candidate. But Bush committed the unpardonable sin of saying that many illegal immigrants come to the United States as an “act of love” for their families.    Off with his head!

Cantor’s downfall is producing a leadership struggle among House Republicans.  Right now, the three top GOP leaders all come from states that voted twice for Obama: House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Majority Leader Cantor (Virginia) and Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (California).  As a result, the Tea Party suspects them all of being impure.

The Republicans vying to replace them come from Texas and Georgia. Which means they face no constituency pressure to seek accommodation with Obama.

The Texas Republican Party just met in convention and approved a platform that calls for: conversion therapy for gays; abolition of a tiny number of Texas gun restrictions; U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations; an end to all affirmative action laws, and a quarterly mustering of the state militia — presumably to defend Texas against federal encroachments.

Yes, the United States is moving demographically in the Democrats’ direction.  The New America voted twice to elect Obama, each time with a majority. (Bill Clinton never won with a majority.)

But the message of Cantor’s downfall is that the Old America is not giving up without a fight.  The Old America is holed up in congressional-district redoubts, armed to the teeth and spoiling for a showdown.

Radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham, who rallied the campaign to oust Cantor, observed after the vote that Virginia “is changing demographically very quickly, and Republican grass-roots voters understand that.”

Chris McDaniel, another former radio talk show host and Tea Party favorite, is poised to unseat Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) later this month.  Campaigning at a Mississippi county fair, McDaniel told the Washington Post, “This is a peek back to a better time. I’m a Jeffersonian and a Reaganite, and I’d like to remember how good things once were.” An organizer for the Sons of Confederate Veterans told the Post, “Chris understands our heritage.”

The Old America may be losing the numbers game. But they have one important thing going for them: intensity. They come out to vote in low-turnout Republican primaries like the one that brought down Cantor. In the 2012 general election, Cantor got reelected with nearly 223,000 votes. In this week’s Republican primary — where any registered voter could participate — turnout was barely 65,000.

Don’t discount intensity,” Patrick McSweeney, general counsel of the Virginia GOP told the New York Times. “When you marry intensity with this media opportunity that we didn’t have 10 years ago, it’s powerful.”

Intensity of opposition, not numbers, is the reason why immigration reform may now be dead for the foreseeable future.  A new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution shows 62 percent of Americans in favor of allowing illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens; 51 percent of Republicans agree.  But David Brat, the victorious Tea Party candidate in Virginia, said on Fox News that illegal immigration was “the most symbolic issue that captures the differences between me and Eric Cantor.”

Republicans know they stand little chance of winning the White House unless they do better with the rapidly growing Latino vote. But Republicans also know that supporting any kind of immigration reform will target them for defeat in a party primary.  Tea Party supporters will turn out to vote against them for that reason alone.  Many anti-illegal immigration activists are single-issue voters. They’re like the National Rifle Association on gun control. They control the debate because a single issue drives their vote.

In presidential elections, Democrats can rally their base and overwhelm Republicans with numbers, as they did in 2012. What rallies Democrats is fear. Fear that if a Republican wins the White House, the entire legacy of the Clinton and Obama presidencies will be obliterated.

In midterm elections, that doesn’t happen. The PRRI-Brookings survey shows why. The data reveal a very strong relationship: Groups that are the most supportive of Obama (Democrats, African-Americans, young voters, Latinos) are the least likely to say they intend to vote this year. The Old America — whites, conservatives, seniors, Republicans — are far more enthusiastic about voting.

If Republicans have the advantage in midterm elections and Democrats win presidential elections, the outcome is unavoidable: gridlock.


PHOTO (TOP): House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) (L-R) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) hold a news conference after a Republican Party caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst 

PHOTO (INSERT): President Barack Obama (L) sits alongside House Speaker John Boehner during the unveiling of a statue to honor civil rights activist Rosa Parks, in Statuary Hall in the Capitol in Washington, February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed



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We are governed 100% by corporations who own the politicians. Corporations have taken over the world. Democracy is dead.
Find a job with a corporation or be crushed by Nazis like the Koch brothers, your choice.

Posted by UScitizentoo | Report as abusive

UScitizentoo – a 3rd choice is to go into politics. That way you get a slice of the corruption pie to retire on.

It is shocking how many humans are herded and bled to the benefit of a few and they are so compliant with this. It was likely always this way – we just see ourselves more clearly now with so many real alternative news blogs.

Posted by Butch_from_PA | Report as abusive

The only way to save this country is to get rid of the illegal aliens. How? By cutting off all public assistance. They will then deport themselves. Unfortunately our President and the Congress are corrupt to the core except for a very few and won’t do their jobs.
It wouldn’t take to many trips by Boeing 747’s to return all those kids the corrupt Mexican government dropped off in Texas.

Posted by p19 | Report as abusive

Yes, politicians are pretty much corporate assets now.

Posted by Overcast451 | Report as abusive

Actually this is only a problem for the Republicans. Once again the Tea Party monster the Republicans nurtured will insure that only weak candidates are in the general election.

Until real Republicans reform their primary process they will remain the party of the scared and embittered, with no real role in governing other than throwing rocks from the sidelines at elected officials actually trying to accomplish something.

Posted by JunkMoo | Report as abusive

No love for Cantor, but he was as loyal and hard working as Republicans deserve. Smart, tough, knew when to compromise just enough to keep the main pro-business/pro-defense thrust at the core of the Congressional effort. Like Robert Bennett, the guy’s major failing seems to be thinking like an adult.
Women. Independents. Asians. Latinos. Apparently alienating every growth segment of the U.S. electorate wasn’t enough. Now the GOP seems intent on scaring the bejingles out of business as well. These tea party clowns are dancing themselves right over a cliff.

Posted by Bagehot | Report as abusive

“This is a peek back to a better time. I’m a Jeffersonian and a Reaganite, and I’d like to remember how good things once were.”

Always this logical fallacy with the conservatives who want to revert back to “traditions” and “how things were” instead of embracing and evolving with the times. I suppose they are just taking their anti-evolution beliefs to another level. Regardless, the world today is not like the world it was half a century ago. Heck, it’s not even similar to the one from 20 years old and no amount of wishful thinking is going to bring it back.

By nature, the conservatives are ill-equipped to deal with this changing global environment, namely the shifting of geopolitical power and the rise of a multi-polar world. Fact is, the U.S. hegemon is no longer as dominant as it once was and this is not a temporary trend. As such, the conservative ideology of relying on military force and economic pressure to get our way is no longer feasible since the rest of the world is catching up quickly in both departments. Forget about our potential rivals, even some of our allies are far less willing to follow our lead compared to just 10 or 15 years ago.

Anyway, this political gridlock until 2023 that the author spoke of is probably the worst case scenario for America. Should his prophecy come true, it would result in a politically paralyzed America that is unable to cope with the vast amount of upcoming changes in a timely fashion. The decline of the U.S. following the American century would be irreversible and permanent at that point which ironically would be the exact opposite of what the conservatives wanted to achieve. In the end, our “global power projection” military doctrine can only get us so far as more and more nations are acquiring the capabilities of “bloodying our nose” should it become necessary.

Posted by blah77 | Report as abusive

Bill, you apparently proceed from a position that only liberal Democratic action on issues is not defined as “gridlock”. The ability of the minority to defend itself from a majority is inherent in our form of government. It is intended to force compromise. That the Liberal Democrats and their arrogant President refuse to compromise is at the heart of todays “gridlock”. Look in the mirror and think back to when your party was in the minority and how useful a bit of applied gridlock was in controlling the excesses of the majority. This is America Bill. You may get to govern, but no one gets to rule.

Posted by AZWarrior | Report as abusive

Blah77 – concise and on-point. Everyone should note your thoughts. My compliments.

Posted by TheWhiteLine | Report as abusive

We don’t know why Eric Cantor lost, and the reason may be less his constituents’ embrace of Tea Party values and more his constituents’ disillusionment with Eric Cantor personally. By reputation, he has re-invented himself too many times. He lacks charisma (he almost has negative charisma), and he tends to alienate those who are not on his side politically. Plus, according to reports, he took his constituents for granted to the point where he spent election day horse trading in Washington instead of getting out the vote in Richmond. It may also be that Democrats crossed over to vote against Cantor in the Republican primary in order to punish him for dissing the President during the 2010-11 budget debates. (There was strong backing for a candidate running against Cantor in 2012, but Cantor was not defeated.) Cantor, after all, has long been a practitioner of scorched-earth politics. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Posted by Bob9999 | Report as abusive

Somehow I get the impression that Bill Scneider doesn’t really like Republicans, nor would he like to see gridlock derailed if it meant a Republican president.

Posted by lostinla | Report as abusive

Gridlock is the cause of low turnout. When people get off their duffs and actually vote these losers out, then you’ll see real change.

Posted by highfive | Report as abusive

The Democrats won’t have to wait until 2023 to avoid gridlock.

Tea Party Republicans and Wall Street Republicans have divided and conquered their own party.

This is actually a tremendous opportunity for moderates in both parties. Some astute strategizing, negotiating and a little horse trading on both sides of the aisle could result in further marginaling the extreme right wing of the Republican Party in exchange for marginalizing the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party.

This is an opportunity for both parties to rebrand. It could even be fertile ground for the creation of viable new parties.

In my opinion, a best-case scenario would be the rapid demise of the current two party system in which publicly pushing hot button issues while quietly pandering to special interests substitutes for openly governing in the public interest.

Posted by breezinthru | Report as abusive

I keep looking, searching all the founders Documents, Constitution, BoR and now where do I find, Primary job of elected is to be reelected. There does seem to be a great deal of concern in the documents that elected are supposed to represent what is best for the people and nation.

Now if we could only get that enforced by law, as in no more money to the elections, and since that is impossible, the name of each donor, and lobbyists funding. How sad to see “gridlock” via “got to do something to get reelected”, AKA the fall of a once great nation, and if anyone cares to spend the time, such is already starting to nibble away at us, soon will come the big bites. My guess is so many here so uneducated they will never notice it, after all decades of 30% or so HS drop outs, finally starting to show up.

Posted by chuck2 | Report as abusive

to the clown that said get rid off all immigrants, how did your people get here? If we thought the way you did when they tried to emigrate to the US, you would not have had the luxury to be so stupid and racist.

Posted by midgick | Report as abusive

Gridlock is the inevitable result of partisan media. Although started by FOX it is prevalent on both sides.

Posted by thinker72 | Report as abusive

“to the clown that said get rid of immigrants…”

You miss the whole point. It’s not immigrants. It’s ILLEGAL immigrants. Many people trying to work their way through the immigration process legally. Let the illegals get in line instead of cutting to the front, blatantly disregarding the laws of this country.

Illegal immigration is a bi-partisan issue. Both Dems and Reps gain by cheap labor. That’ the real reason for political gridlock on this issue.

Posted by bbwyo | Report as abusive