Last night’s stunning primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) should be a rallying point for Moderate Republicans. Cantor may not have lost because he flirted with immigration or education reform or as one pundit speculated, because of his religion. His Goliath defeat to a David could boil down to laser focused opposition.
Moderate Republicans have yet to organize. They have no voice on the radio, no leaders in Congress to rally them and no grassroots movement – yet.
The rallying cry for Moderates has been, “Compromise!” The establishment wing has spent the last several years trying to build bridges to The Tea Party and even worse, apologizing for them. As political strategist Scott Reid said, “It’s time for incumbents to run like they’re running for Sheriff and not Prime Minister.”
That’s a very un-Moderate thing to say. But Cantor’s defeat has shown us how easily someone trying to build bridges can be accused of playing both sides. Not only did the Tea Party hate Cantor; President Obama reportedly did, too. Let’s hope that Cantor’s defeat isn’t spun as a need for candidates to bank right but instead is a turning point for Moderates to declare themselves unequivocally.
Gov. Mitt Romney might have been President if he had taken the gloves off and talked past The Tea Party to the reasonable Republicans and frustrated Democrats in the electorate. That feisty long term Moderate Republican, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) might have been President if he hadn’t been bullied by The Tea Party into taking on Sarah Palin as a running mate.