Why Cantor’s Loss is No Laughing Matter
The abrupt departure of the House Majority Leader from his leadership position means that the House GOP is scrambling to choose his replacement. Cantor will vacate the Majority Leader’s office at the end of July, and the election for his replacement is scheduled for June 19. Cantor has endorsed his deputy, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), but given the circumstances of Cantor’s defeat, I think it’s likely that House Republicans will attempt to placate the Far Right by choosing an even more conservative member of their caucus as Majority Leader, and Cantor was no moderate. He’ll be replaced by a House member to his rights, who in turn will be looking over his own shoulder at those even further to the right who will be watching for any sign of realism, pragmatism, or any other sign of “impurity”.
Moreover, the House will soon (well, next January) be holding elections for Speaker as well, and while John Boehner has finally stated unequivocally that he wants to continue his speakership in the next Congress, it’s an open question whether his caucus feels the same way. An even-more-conservative GOP leadership leading into 2016 would certainly be a boon for Democrats, who won’t be hurting for campaign material, but what would it mean for the country as a whole?
Nothing good, if you want an honest answer. The Speaker and Majority Leader control virtually everything of any real import that happens in the House of Representatives. If you thought Congress’ inaction over the last four years was shameful, imagine what they won’t deign to act on next time around if everyone in the leadership is even more gun-shy about looking in any way conciliatory.
Yes, we’ve all had a good laugh at seeing Eric Cantor get unceremoniously booted by his district, but now it’s time to think about what comes next and whether or not we’re going to have any sort of functional government, even a poorly functioning government, come January of 2016.