My View From The Country

Virginia Primary Results Leave GOP In Upheaval

The bottom line is that honest debate and discussion no longer seem to be possible in this country – either within parties or between the parties.

The political pundits say this should be a glorious time for the Republican Party. It sits solidly in control of the House and looks likely to reclaim control of the Senate in the upcoming November elections. The narrative goes that with a lame duck president, the GOP has a chance to control and direct the national agenda for the first time in six years.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are supposed to be vulnerable, as a result of the slowest recovery from recession in history, and the lowest percentage of the eligible workforce employed in decades. Then there’s the exploding national debt, a foreign policy that’s in shambles, and an electorate that is generally displeased with the executive performance of Barack Obama.

This is the primary season, a time when the GOP is expected to begin to build momentum toward the next election cycle. However, the defeat last week of Eric Cantor, House majority leader, in the Virginia primary, has sent shock waves through the establishment. Few foresaw it; in fact, Cantor is the first majority leader to lose a primary in more than 100 years.

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Business interests are wringing their hands over Cantor’s loss, while Tea Party enthusiasts are celebrating the renewal of their political clout within the party. The experts quickly predicted that Cantor’s loss is the end of immigration reform for this year, and concluded it’s a strong message to Republicans that no one is safe on the issue.

After conceding defeat, Cantor resigned his leadership duties, effective July 31. So, with the House anticipating new leadership, and a growing rift between the Tea Party and establishment Republicans, the focus has shifted from eager anticipation of a big November win, to debate on the direction of the party and whether it can unite enough to be a force in the coming elections. 

I have to admit that I find the whole Washington, D.C., thing perplexing. This week, for instance, we heard that the 2015 budget appropriation for the latest farm bill might get vetoed. That’s the signal from the White House if, among other measures, an attachment that allows school districts to disregard new nutritional standards is included.

While some blame Cantor’s defeat on his immigration stance, I think that charges of crony capitalism and his support of big business were also factors in his primary loss. The irony is that Cantor was seen as too extreme and too conservative by many mainstream Americans. As a result, his policies, governance or positions tended toward moderation and the middle, so much so that he was branded within his party as not being conservative enough.

The bottom line is that honest debate and discussion seems to no longer be possible in this country – either within parties or between the parties. The Republican establishment and the Tea Party are at odds. The first is focused on broadening its popular appeal to gain the power to effect change, while the latter is interested in ideological purity. Of course, such purity might just ensure that they’ll be nothing more than the loyal opposition with no power to effect the change they seek.

Cantor’s defeat really sends only one message. That is that the Republican Party better get its house in order, or squander the magnificent opportunity that’s been handed them this election season.  

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of or the Penton Farm Progress Group.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 5

Anonymo (not verified)
on Jun 16, 2014

All the republicans did when they were in control of all 3 branches during the Bush years was to keep existing bloated government programs instead of reining them in and/or eliminating them. Why should we expect anything different should they gain control again? Crony capitalism - absolutely.

on Jun 16, 2014

it won`t be the first time repubs have squandered opportunity...think controlling both chambers and the White House and doing nothing but lining cronies pockets...well, I guess that isn`t acting squandering opportunity; it`s just doing the job you were paid to do....

cattle farmer (not verified)
on Jun 16, 2014

I think Cantor's defeat has more to do with the fact we have a Barney Fife president and people are sick of the republicans not doing anything to stop him. The tea party is ordinary people both democrats and republicans who oppose big government and disfunctional presidents like we have.

bob neese (not verified)
on Jun 16, 2014

Troy, I do not believe your premise is accurate that the Republican establishment is "focused on broadening its popular appeal to gain the power to effect change". They may say that, but their strategy for that never works.
Their real focus seems to be upon keeping in office, keeping power, gaining more power, and maintaining the status quo.
The establishment has become squishy and malleable on every issue and may as well be called "The Party of Capitulation".
Soft, unwilling to fight, wishy-washy Republicans do not inspire and are not winners. Think McCain. Think Romney.
Constitutional conservatism, correctly articulated and faithfully implemented, wins every time. Call it "ideological purity" if you wish, but the American people will still respond to principled, truthful leaders who can articulate their case and resist the peer pressure and corrupt cronyism that has come to define the Beltway. Think Ted Cruz.

John R. Dykers, Jr (not verified)
on Jun 17, 2014

'I have to admit that I find the whole Washington, D.C., thing perplexing'
Troy, you got that right. Don't feel like the Lone Ranger; DC shenanigans perplex many of us.
Dave Brat is focused opposition to 'crony capitalism'. Eric lost touch with his district and took reelection for granted just because he could spend so much money. The nomination of Dave Brat is a REAL VICTORY for democracy.
My cousin, Andrew Dykers, lives in the district and when asked if Dave Brat 'will win the general election and be a better representative for your congressional district?' replied, "In a word, yes." He went on to write
Eric Cantor was a classmate of our daughter Jane in high school. We know and like his parents. We know and like him. When he graduated college he was apprenticed by Tom Bliley who held the Virginia 7th District seat in Congress for several terms. When Bliley retired, Eric ran for and won the seat. I have voted for Eric in every election he has entered in his life, until this one. Eric wore out his welcome. He became imperious. He resorted to tricky little parliamentary maneuvers. He became the poster boy for my truism "Colleagues trump constituents every time". And his colleagues are the Washington power elite. Power corrupts.

I know Dave Brat. He stands for what I believe. Obviously, the majority in the 7th agreed with me. I hope , pray and trust that he will do what is best for the country when he is elected in November.


JRD again: Congress and the Media have become their own special interest groups. And they will behave as pleases their colleagues rather than their 'clients' the American people, including a few cattlemen and farmers.
The comments preceding mine seem to have insights that reflect the values of people who work to earn a living. I share those as a practitioner of 'Rotarian Capitalism'.
"May we each be responsible for ourselves and ever mindful of the needs of others."

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.


Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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