I’ve spent far too much time today reading various analyses from the Left and the Right of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s unexpected and humiliating defeat at the hands of a little-known political neophyte, Dave Brat. At the end of this ill-spent time, I’ve come to two conclusions:
- Bill Moyers’ Senior Digital Producer Joshua Holland did a much better job of reading, understanding and summarizing the blow flow than I ever could.
- Brat is a dangerously non-thinking, knee-jerk politician who will be terrible for the nation and for his own Congressional district.
I derived this latter observation from reading a bit about Brat online and found it all neatly bundled into a factual and insightful analysis in Esquire by Charles Pierce.
Brat is not only billed as a professor of economics despite lacking a degree in the field, he is actually the department head of business and economics at tiny Randolph-Macon College, a 1,300-student, four-year school run by the Methodists. (In an irony sure to be a future Trivial Pursuit question, his fellow faculty member, sociologist Jack Trammell, will be his November opponent from the hopelessly outnumbered Democratic Party in the district.)
Here are some pull quotes from the Pierce piece that may help to put Brat into some sort of perspective. As far as I can tell — and I fact-checked these statements to the best of my ability — these are all factually correct observations:
- Brat has promised to vote against raising the debt ceiling for the first five years he’s in Congress.
- He says his conservative religious background informs his views on economics.
- He attacked Cantor for, among other things, voting to raise the national debt (see #1 above), end the government shutdown, and for the Ryan-Murray budget plan.
- At his victory speech last night, he told supporters that he won because God was speaking through the voters of the Seventh Congressional District of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Among his extremely sparse publishing resume is a paper entitled “An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.” As Pierce wryly observed, “Well, that must have been good for a few laughs.”
Rand was a militant atheist. It’s hard to predict precisely how she’d react to Brat — and a number of other alleged followers who also claim fervor for evangelical Christianity — trying to meld the two completely incompatible philosophical positions. But it appears that consistency isn’t the kind of “deep thinking” in which Brat likes to engage.
Unless Brat proves too much for the general electorate come November (the district is 57% registered Republican), Democrats who are whooping it up over Cantor’s sudden fall may be wishing they had Eric back by the time Brat’s been in Congress a while. Like two weeks. Or until the first vote to raise the debt ceiling.