So I’m as impressed by Dave Brat’s win as anyone else, and I’m not pleased by CNN’s glib “tea party” identification, as I haven’t seen anything indicating that Brat wrapped himself in the Tea Party mantle, so much as that he emphasized that he was more trustworthy and Cantor was out-of-touch with his constituents (which Cantor compounded by being, well, out-of-touch with his consitituents).
The CNN article also downplays the significance of the win, noting that Lindsey Graham, an amnesty champion, easily won his primary. But I looked at the numbers themselves, from the Washington Post: Cantor had one challenger, a highly credible professor, but Graham, who took 57% of the vote, had six challengers — it’s no surprise that they’d split the vote and no one candidate would be able to gain the necessary traction. (What about Boehner? He cruised to a primary victory handily over two opponents — but it seems to me that I had earlier read that there were four opponents, so either I’m misremembering, or two dropped out.)
Is the Tea Party dead? Alive? “What difference, at this point, does it make?” The Tea Party is not a monolitic entity; in a way, it represents an idea: “Taxed Enough Already,” yes, but also anger that the Establishment GOP is more about the top leadership preserving their own status and power than a commitment to the American people. The bigger issue is this: we see statistics that, once a candidate has won election to the Senate or House, they’re practically guaranteed reelection as many times as they wish. And the power of incumbency is so strong that they lose interest in what their constituents think. For the sake of our democracy, I’ll cheer on any upstart challenger who upsets an incumbent.