Eric Cantor Bites the Dust


Michelle Togut

Michelle Togut resides in North Carolina with her husband and pets. She has worked as an adjunct professor of history, contributor and writer, and small-firm attorney, among other things. These days, she's trying to sell real estate. For fun, she reads political blogs of all persuasions, practices yoga, drinks wine, hikes, reads, and volunteers for a local animal rescue.

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124 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    So that means that Kevin McCarthy is next in line for House majority leader as he is currently the majority whip. Interestingly, I live within shouting distance of Kevin McCarthy’s congressional district. As in, it’s not that much of a challenge to shout loud enough to be heard literally across the street, which across the street is McCarthy’s district. So this is perversely good news for my soon-to-be-very-porky part of the world.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      My guess is that this will not be one of those cases where everybody moves up a position in line. Hensarling has been seriously looking at challenging Boehner. Might be that another opportunity has arisen. Or it could be just want Labrador needs if Hensarling smells blood and tries to run for the top spot after all.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Hensarling didn’t have the votes before. We’ll see if the Tea Partiers will follow the model of airing out their differences with other GOP’ers in caucus and thereafter presenting a unified front to the Dems — that’s what they’ve done so far.

        At least, I sort of hope so, in a porky-pork sort of way.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Nobody wants to challenge Boehner. Not and actually win.Report

    • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

      Just because Cantor is a member of the tribe doesn’t mean he can’t deliver on the you know….Report

  2. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    As I understand it, the Democrats were trying to get Democratic voters out to vote for Cantor’s opponent. This is apparently legal under the Virginia primary rules, which seems like an odd way to run a primary to me.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Just about everybody disagreed with me when I voiced skepticism of open primaries.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

        California has what is called a jungle primary where the two top winners go against each other in the general election. The primary is a free for all.

        This means in certain districts and/or elections, you will have a D v. D general election or an R v. R general election.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        having closed primaries didn’t help Clinton in PA. All the republicans (and independents) turned democrats about a month before the Presidential primary. Of course, they’re too soddin’ old to turn back, so we get Casey Jr. …Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        If you’re in a district where the D/R primary is the defacto general, it’s a good thing to allow everyone to choose who they will vote for.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        ya. Especially when your candidate decides to “Wander off”, stop campaigning and go to russia for a few months. (Party couldn’t do a thing, as the primary had already happened).Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      I was trying to find out if the Democrats were fielding anybody to run against Cantor in the fall but haven’t been able to. It does seem odd to me that voters can cross party lines without re-registering, but I know some states do work that way.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Do Dems have a viable candidate? If not, this is insanity.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Not really.
        A bit of disorder, in return for one more vote for economic terrorism (worst case)?
        Considering the Republicans already had the votes for a gov’t shutdown…Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      And not any Democrat, but Cooter from Dukes of Hazard.

      But the numbers indicate that this was likely a small effect. Turnout, while larger than Cantor’s last primary, was in line (12-15%) with the other Virginia competetive congressional districts (like my own 8th, replacing Moran).

      I do like Virginia’s primary system. As a taxpayer paying for them, darn tootin’ I want to vote in them. Plus, the local races are by law non-partisan, so you’d have to increase the number of elections (on top of the relatively large number we’ve had due to resignations and follow-up special elections)

      Anyway, if there’s two primaries, you can vote in either one, but only one. Curiously, since I’ve moved back to Northern Virginia, all the primaries that I can recall have had only the Dem or GOP option but never both at the same time. (maybe – the only GOP one at all was Romney v Ron Paul, and there may have been a single candidate ballot for Obama on the other side) The Va GOP has gone to caucuses for almost all its nominee selections over the past few years, the fact that Cantor even had a primary election has been an outlier.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        I meant to also say that Cantor’s overall raw vote total was lower than it was in his last primary election, which gives evidence against Democratic cross-over spoiling.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      Now that Cantor’s pollster has come out claiming that crossover Dems cost his client the election, I’ll withdraw my thought that it might have been a significant factor. The internal pollsters have been wrong about so much else in this case that it seems silly to think they finally got something right… :^)Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Since this race was *so* below the radar, I doubt that there was any exit polling in order to confirm the hypothesis either way. So everyone can claim victory as their own doing or defeat as some other person’s fault and all can get away with it.

        And the beat goes on…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Suder Man, at Reason’s Hit and Run, had a trenchant insight:

        But given how unexpected this was to practically everyone, I don’t have too much confidence in any of the explanations. If it was clear and obvious, then more people would have seen it coming. Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I’m shocked he’s not claiming voter ID fraud.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Nate Cohn makes a decent argument against Democrats being the cause, along the lines of what Kolohe says above. Cohn includes graphs, though, which Kolohe was too stingy to give us. 😉Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Holy. Fishing. Crap. I had no idea this was coming.

    This is going to be something of a blow to the whole “the establishment is back in control” narrative.Report

  4. Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

    There is always the chance he will choose to run as a write in candidate like Lisa Murkowski in Alaska. This might interestingly turn a very red district blue, at least for two years. Otherwise the Democratic candidate doesn’t have a chance.

    Has a majority leader ever lost a primary?

    LGM also noted how the Republican Congressional Caucus is now 100 percent Christian.

    I suppose this shows what happens when you gerrymader a district to be too safe at least for Rs.Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Off-topic, other than being about primaries: Orly Taitz was on the California primary ballot this year, running for Attorney General. When I saw her name, I couldn’t help laughing out loud, but couldn’t explain why, since that would have been a kind of campaigning.Report

  6. Avatar DRS says:

    Anyone get a candid phone photo of Boehner’s reaction? Did his frowny face of sorrow get wiped away by a fit of the giggles? I’m guessing “mixed feelings” is the best way to put it.Report

  7. Avatar zic says:

    I read that they rejiggered his district to include a more ultra-conservative area.

    Careful what you wish for, ehh?Report

  8. Avatar North says:

    The rich delicious irony is that Cantor was one of the co-authors of the absolute opposition school of GOP strategy that’s been implemented ever since Obama took office. That he got devoured by the tea party tiger he sought to ride is pure candy for me. Now if only the TP could have made turtle soup out of Mcconnell 2014 would be shaping up to be a not so bad year. Oh well, guess the Dems will have to have a run at the Turtle Man ourselves.Report

  9. Avatar Damon says:

    Yeah, this was all over NPR this am coming into work.

    The reaction was, as Tod said “This is going to be something of a blow to the whole “the establishment is back in control” narrative.” I think it’s a confluence of two things, or more, 1) low turnout-driving the most dedicated/passionate folks to vote and 2) dislike of Cantor. It should provide some interesting drama in Congress as everyone rethinks their plans to CYA in their own elections….Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      This is pretty much my take. But I think that Tea Partiers are going to use this election to prove they’re still viable as opposed to a small but angry & vocal minority.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Small vocal minorities get stuff done though. Not saying the TP will, but, a small focused group, can often push through things while the rest of world sleeps. You hear about it all the time on the local level…Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        That’s because no one pays attention to local stuff. There’s less oversight.

        There’s certainly not two entrenched party structures going hammer-and-tongs at each other.

        Locally it’s more about local connections, not party politics.

        This guy is going to get jack done, because he’s gonna be a freshman Rep and freshmen Reps get jack done. But if he’s smart, he can act out and be wild and get some book and speaking deals and make solid money afterwards.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        only when they’re smart and clever.
        Getting a Farmer’s Market for our neighborhood required:
        1) a parking study showing that the lot in question was underutilized during the time in question
        2) A decent time which was underutilized (Sunday Morning! 9-1), so that farmers could afford to detour their trucks by.
        3) Support from a powerful local chain restaurant
        4) Trolling the local supermarket
        5) Trolling the local parking authority until most of them quit (some under investigation).
        6) Getting the new parking authority to listen to a bunch of interested locals.

        And this is AFTER we got a new mayor.Report

  10. Avatar DRS says:

    Andrew Sullivan has a whole list of rightwing tweets regarding the outcome and it’s interesting to see how many of them refer to Cantor in very disparaging terms as if he were the most leftwing of Democrats. So another lesson from this to incumbents might be that it really doesn’t matter what you say or do if you’re never going to be rightwing enough for the TP. So you might want to re-think the gerrymander thing and get more non-Republican voters back in your district – so you can swap the TP voters into someone else’s.Report

    • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

      How soon before the Judeo is dropped from the conservative call for Judeo-Christian values?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Although I suspect this was said in jest, this was the take from someone at Fox News last night:

        “Republicans should stop chasing ethnic groups, stop chasing genitalia and instead listen to conservatives.”Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        I think they’ve been conditioned so much on the term they’ll still use it reflexively.

        Just like how some older people still say “colored” or “Negros”.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Judeo was never used seriously. It was always a fig leaf to conceal dominionist attitudes.

        For evidence, ask a Tea Partier to name one aspect of their program that is “Judeo” as opposed to “Christian”. Or why they would not use “Abrahamic”, as a way of noting the theological familial relationship of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Allow me to answer for them: “Support for Israel.”

        Judeo-Christian is merely the signifier of who “us” is, in a versus “them” mentality.
        (note: I’m not saying Kowal or the other conservatives around here actually have an “us” versus “them” mentality. But a lot of conservatives do, and I can point to statistics showing the vast preponderance of authoritarian minds are conservatives).Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Oh, Saul. The Republicans didn’t vote out Cantor because they hate Jews. They voted out Cantor because they hate Mexicans.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        What @jaybird said, more or less. To the extent that this was a result of a grassroots activism (instead of Democrat crossovers) the immigration issue loomed very large. People point to the fact that Cantor was actually pretty anti-immigration, but he wasn’t perceived that way by a whole lot of people.

        “Judeo-Christian” isn’t going anywhere, for a variety of reasons.Report

      • Avatar DRS says:

        re: Mexicans.

        But Cantor didn’t support amnesty and Graham did (at least kinda-sorta in the past) so why did Graham win and Cantor lose?

        I will buy that Graham knew he was in a fight and Cantor was sleepwalking but if immigration is really a groundswell you’d think it would have taken both of them down.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        The general argument I’ve seen out there is that the “Republican Establishment” is a supporter of Amnesty because The Corporations want Amnesty. Cantor was seen as doing a better job of representing the “Republican Establishment” line than his home district.

        On a personal level, it’s difficult for me to see one of the bums being thrown out as anything but a good thing.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        @jaybird By all indications, the bum in question will be replaced by a nut. Is that really an improvement?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Cantor was vulnerable in ways that Graham wasn’t. As you say, Graham may have been prepared in a way that Cantor wasn’t. Getting out the vote is easier in a congressional district than in an entire state. There were two senate races in South Carolina, meaning that there were likely a lot of extra non-TP voters showing up that didn’t show up in Virginia. That Graham is “bad” on immigration isn’t news, but the anger towards Cantor is more fresh (one Jewish blogger I read who thought Cantor should have been on the ticket in 2012 said that Cantor’s loss serves him right). Also, there was apparently a crossover campaign against Cantor and I don’t think there was against Graham.

        I don’t actually know that immigration was the decisive issue here. Virginia seems like an odd staging ground for that. But almost all of the anti-Cantor I’ve heard from the right has been on the immigration issue. If his conservative bonafides were suspect, I really think that’s why.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        @burt It is if you’re a Dem!Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        As far as I can tell, the lesson likely to be learned here is that if you’re a bum, you risk being replaced by a nut, therefore it’s better to be a nut than a bum. Our democracy is safe!Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        “Corporations” want slavery. “other corporations” want Amnesty (either because they’re tired of the increasing costs for murder, or because enforcement and deportation in general is up — or because they’re more law-abiding, and this will screw their competitors).Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        One man’s coherent policy is another man’s nuttery.

        I’m waiting to see where he stands on the NSA, unmanned drone strikes, TSA, and the DEA kicking down doors in Colorado in pot raids before I’m willing to agree he’s a nut, though.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        “I will buy that Graham knew he was in a fight and Cantor was sleepwalking but if immigration is really a groundswell you’d think it would have taken both of them down.”

        That’s the big one, though – Cantor was completely flatfooted. Nobody has been caught that off guard perhaps ever. If I’m reading the reports correctly, his much larger war chest (in excess of 5 million) was still mostly in the chest. In contrast, people had been gunning for Graham for a couple of years now, and Graham was running radio ads at least back to mid-March. (the last time I was in South Carolina).

        One other x-factor in the Cantor race was the circumstance that the talk radio hosts whom formed a firing line against Cantor, while nationally syndicated, are based pretty close to that Congressional district.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        But Cantor didn’t support amnesty and Graham did (at least kinda-sorta in the past) so why did Graham win and Cantor lose?

        I admit that I have trouble seeing why immigration would be a really big issue in a district in the middle of Virginia. Has there been a big influx of immigrants there?

        I suspect other reasons. Could be as simple as geography, and that Graham was running in a state-wide primary. A quick check of county-by-county results in SC suggests that Graham did better than his state-wide number — in some cases much better — in the counties with larger cities. This is what I’ve been calling the “Romney strategy.” Romney built his lead in the primaries initially by winning delegates in high-density urban and inner-ring suburban areas and largely conceding the low-density areas to the anti-Romney du jour. At least of late, Cantor has struck me as an urban-style Republican, perhaps because of his leadership position, and it might not have played well back home. Graham also had the advantage of several opponents, each probably enjoying some sort of regional name recognition but not well known state-wide.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I suppose you’re going to have to make the choice that libertarians frequently have to make: he’s anti-NSA surveillance, big on the 10th, and opposes indefinite detention for American citizens, but he’s anti-immigration and pro-increased military spending, and he’s deeply religious, using God as a fundamental part of his campaign and his political creed (he has one), and believes that the country has taken an immoral turn, and that this is a political issue, resulting in socially conservative positions. On the other side, you’ll have a Democrat who probably, at least officially, doesn’t support the NSA, but is also going to support things like more resources for public and higher education to increase access to quality and higher education, and he’s going to be big on things like the ADA (given his background). Who do you vote for? The guy who is more fervently anti-NSA, but also equally fervently anti-immigration and anti-abortion and likely several other things related to his religious conservatism, or the guy who’s probably less concerned about the NSA than he is about access to higher education?

        For me, in a similar position but from the other side of the spectrum, it’s always easy: vote for the person who will want fewer wars (because they all want some wars, even if I want none) and won’t reduce women to second class citizens by piling barriers on top of barriers in the way of access to the only means to full citizenship: financial independence from men. Unless the person who is better on those two dimensions is also a serial killer or a Duke fan, I’m pretty much going to vote for that person if I’m going to vote for anyone.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        So I guess I’m back to just being pleased that Cantor was thrown out on his backside.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        And I’m back to feeling like it was a lose-lose primary, with both of the losses being equally bad. For me, being happy that Cantor lost would be sort of like being happy that I wasn’t killed by the fire when I fell through the floors of the burning boat into the deep ocean, with my arms and legs bound.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

        10 bucks says Jaybird is disappointed by Brat’s performance if Brat is elected in November.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        @Kolohe Graham had 6 TP opponents; Cantor had one. That strikes me as -the- definitive difference.

        Ironically Graham’s visible vulnerability may have actually helped him by luring multiple TP candidates in to scuffle to claim his cushy seat. Cantors’ stature meanwhile made him an unappealing opponent so only one true believer took to the field against him.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        “Republican Leader Fails Re-Election Bid: Jaybird Insufficiently Unhappy”Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        @North Graham would have been in a runoff if he didn’t crack 50%. The anti-Graham forces didn’t need to coalesce around a single challenger in this round.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Agreed @kolohe but I am firmly of the opinion that factionalizing the opposition decreases overall support for the opposition. It’s a reverse synergy: the sum of the candidates support coming out is less than the sum of their support going in would be. People saw that many opponents and just threw their votes in with Graham. I’d bet that had the field been even half the size that it was that Graham would have been forced into a runoff and probably would have gone down.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @north Have you seen Alpha House? In it, three Republican senators are running for re-election against Tea Party candidates. Two (Matt Malloy and John Goodman) have one serious opponent. The third (Clark Johnson) has one significant opponent and a handful of crackpots. Bettencourt (Johnson’s character) basically made sure that all of the candidates were invited to the debate, so that his opposition was a peanut gallery instead of the one guy he was concerned about.

        Worked well for Butch Otter in Idaho, too. After the debate, it was “Butch Otter and the others” instead of Otter v Fulcher. Which was how we got this.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        This seems like something that should have solid empirical data either way, but I’m not seeing anything on either regular google or google scholar where any political scientist has attempted to correlate number of candidates (in a straight up first past the post election or a two round run off voting) with the chances of any one candidate getting an absolute majority.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Will, that story makes me amused and ill at the same time.

        Kolohe, I haven’t been able to find empirical support either which is why it’s just my feeling/opinion. I just don’t think Graham was that much better a candidate than Cantor.Report

  11. Avatar Saul DeGraw says:



    “5. Religion: Cantor’s exit means there won’t be a single non-Christian Republican member of Congress. Could faith have played a role in his defeat? Cantor, who is Jewish, has been in office since 2001. But his suburban Richmond constituency was recently redistricted and became more rural and more conservative. David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report—one of the smartest House analysts working—told The New York Times: “Part of this plays into his religion. You can’t ignore the elephant in the room.” In Brat, Cantor faced an opponent for whom Christianity was a defining characteristic.”Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      That suggests it may not have been any real anti-Jewish bias, as much as just being more favorable to the guy with whom they shared greater identity.

      In which case religion was indeed a factor, but somewhat more acceptably so than could have been the case.

      “If,” of course.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

        A counter view:

        But it says is Judaism did cause problems in Congress.

        The truth is that most American Jews are Democratic even if the 20 percent of Jews who are Republican are really loud and well-financed.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        From Saul’s link:

        But did Cantor’s Judaism—which was such an obvious asset on the Hill and nationally—become part of his undoing back in his district, as Wasserman suggested to the Times? It’s hard to see it. Brat certainly didn’t make an issue out of Cantor’s religion in the race, not even in subtle ways by, say, attacking his support of Israel; if you watch the YouTube videos of Brat’s speeches to Evangelical churches, he spends more time talking about de Tocqueville than Jesus. And, while Wasserman posits that Cantor’s Judaism was culturally out of step with the more rural, redrawn district, Cantor actually won the less populous parts of Virginia’s Seventh. It was in the Richmond suburbs, which had always been Cantor’s base, where he got trounced by Brat.

        It’s hard to stress the lack of any indication that Cantor’s religion played any sort of significant roll in his loss, beyond “They’re Republicans and a Christian beat a Jewish guy and therefore…” Wasserman offers little or no evidence, and TNR rebuts what he does offer.

        An actual argument I’ve seen proposed is that by attacking Cantor on guns, Brat was dog-whistling Judaism.Report

      • Avatar Roger Ferguson says:

        Brat’s dissertation: Human Capital, Religion and Economic Growth.


      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        The American political system isn’t very kind to third parties no matter what the third party believes in. You need to run in high profile Federal elections in order to gain national visibility but thats expensive and your not likely to gain any seats thanks to our first past the post system. You can just forget about winning the Presidency or a Senate seat. Selecting the wrong Presidential candidate can really hurt you and third parties have a high chance of selecting an out there candidate because of their small size. The Greens have no shortage of candidates that were really alienating to the average American. Its very easy for a third party to become a joke in the American political system.Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      In Brat, Cantor faced an opponent for whom Christianity was a defining characteristic.”

      Brat’s one of those Ayn Rand Christians though (he got some kind of $500,000 grant to teach the values of Ayn Rand at his college). It always gets me that these guys don’t seem to get the tensions inherent in the relationship between Christianity and laissez-faire capitalism.

      That said, I don’t think Cantor’s religion as much as his arrogance played a role here. As a Jew and a Democrat, I have to admit a certain amount of glee in seeing him go down.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        “these guys don’t seem to get the tensions inherent in the relationship between Christianity and laissez-faire capitalism.”

        Not to quibble, but to riff… I think that question is relevant at two levels. One is at the larger social level. Jesus really had no brief for government. He treated it as irrelevant, unimportant, so it’s plausible that he would have simply shrugged his shoulders at the question of regulating capitalism.

        But on another level, that of the society of believers, the post-gospel books make clear that they weren’t engaging in capitalism, at least with each other. And of course he was down on the accumulation of wealth business.

        So I don’t think a Christian society necessarily needs to regulate capitalism to be Christian,* but Christians as individuals aren’t–so far as I’ve gleaned from the text–supposed to be (what we today would call, since the word didn’t exist back then) capitalist.

        (*To the limited extent any such conglomeration can be said to have such characteristics as “being” Christian.)Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I’d love your take on the prosperity gospel or doctrine or whatever it’s called. (Short version: It’s a weird marriage of Calvinism and evangelical Christianity with massive free market capitalism. it’s a theocratic hoot and a half).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        it’s not his take you want. Check out Pastor Dan’s over on Street Prophets.
        Few things can make such a gentle man angry.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Brat is, of course, a Calvinist.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:


        Thanks. I’d love to see perspectives on it from other Christian sects (I suspect a Catholic might be a bit sharpish about it, for one) and other religions.

        It’s such a weirdly…American…thing.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        I’m not sure if you mean me or Michelle, but my take is that it’s heresy, if not a product of out-and-out fraud.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:


        (Hurray! The URL mentions Hitler!)

        This is from one of Brat’s speeches. I’ve heard crazier things said but I hang out in some weird corners on the ‘tubes.

        Can Christians force others to follow their ethical teachings on social issues? Note that consistency is lacking on all sides of this issue. The political Right likes to champion individual rights and individual liberty, but it has also worked to enforce morality in relation to abortion, gambling, and homosexuality. The Left likes to think of itself as the bulwark of progressive liberal individualism, and yet it seeks to progressively coerce others to fund every social program under the sun via majority rule. Houston, we have a problem. Coercion is on the rise. What is the root word for liberalism? (Answer: Liberty)

        Anyway, as Calvinists go, I like this flavor more than the kind I growed up with.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Wasn’t it a camel can pass through the eye of a needle more easily than a wealthy man can get into heaven? Jesus would probably be more likely to be hanging out at Freddie’s blog than at a prosperity gospel/tea party site.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:


        Politics, law, and policy cannot be separated from visions of morality. This is not to say that there will never be a universal morality but we differ on morality and use law to make sure our morality and ethics are enforced.

        I see universal healthcare as a moral issue. Same with freedom to choose, protection of civil liberties and civil rights, SSM etc. The idea of civil rights is that the right of all people to participate fully in civil and economic rights trumps property rights. I make no bones that this is enforcing morality but there is no way around it.

        Anyway libertarians seem to think of freedom and things that effect them but not others. You dislike the NSA and so does Brat, that’s great. I daresay that women might feel strongly about their liberty rights to contraception and access to abortion facilities.

        There is something comical in saying libertarians say “NSA, NSA, War on Drugs, TSA” and not being able to contemplate anything about abortionReport

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I support the right of women to kill the infants they gestate throughout the entire pregnancy up to and including the moment of crowning for reasons as trivial as disappointment with eye color.

        Now, as for what’s-his-brat here, the fact that he came out and said “The political Right likes to champion individual rights and individual liberty, but it has also worked to enforce morality in relation to abortion, gambling, and homosexuality.” (That’s a cut and paste!), I see him as having somewhat more of a moral (by my lights) stance on abortion (and gambling and homosexuality) than the Calvinists I grew up with.

        I’m sure that once he’s elected, he’ll probably fit more in with your world view than with mine when it comes to the importance of not separating morality from politics, law, and policy, though.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Its important to note that government meant something different to the Jews of Jesus time than it does to anybody in the present. The ideal Jewish government was supposed to be a theocracy and the law was supposed to be the Torah and the main role of government was to make sure that the Torah was followed. Josephus coined the phrase theocracy to describe Jewish ideals about government at the time. Jesus and his disciples would have similar ideas about government but tended not to think about organization as much as traditional Jews. The non-ideal form of government that Jesus and his disciples were aware of was imperial rule by Rome. Naturally, somebody like Jesus would not say much about government.

        One of the key differences between the Pharisees and the Nazarenes or Early Christians was that the Nazarenes romanticized poverty and the Pharisees did not. To the Pharisees, poverty was a horrible thing that you shouldn’t wish upon anybody. They thought it made living a religious life more difficult because people would be too concerned with the realities of living to engage in Torah study. Early Christians tended to romanticize poverty much more and see it as spiritually beneficial.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        @jaybird @saul-degraw’s point is that you may be firmly pro-choice, but will you vote for a pro-life politician who promises to destroy the NSA, end the Drug War, and legalize pot? If so, then yeah, to a pro-choice woman, you seem to be for only some civil liberties, if the ones you really care about are enforced.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        If only there were a third party I could vote for!

        Blessedly, there is. The party in question is usually pretty good on stuff like abortion *AND* the drug war *AND* immigration and whatnot.

        Hey, Jesse. Did the guy you voted for deport more people than any president in history?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        The problem with the Libertarian party is the capitalism.

        (Oh wait, I’m a centrist. Uh… the problem with the Libertarian party is that they can’t win, yeah, that’s it.)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        The problem with the Libertarian party is that this is the most important election of our lifetime and we shouldn’t throw our votes away on feel-good gestures when the soul of the country is at stake.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “If only there were a third party I could vote for!”

        But Ron Paul wrote some racist stuff one time and something something move to Somalia!Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        There is something comical in saying libertarians say “NSA, NSA, War on Drugs, TSA” and not being able to contemplate anything about abortion

        Please, my friend, please.

        The research would not have been hard to do. Libertarians do not have an orthodox lock-step view on abortion, as some see the fetus as an individual with equal rights (this non-orthodoxy inclines me to suggest that libertarians actually contemplate abortion more than either liberals or conservatives). But even some Christian libertarians are not pro-restriction. And if the Libertarian Party platform is pro-choice, and the Cato Institute files an amicus brief opposing the partial-birth abortion ban, I think that says something meaningful about how libertarians contemplate abortion.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Man, I vote, at the national and state levels, on two issues: war and reproductive rights. For me, every election is for the soul of the country, because on those issues, the difference is clear. Particularly on reproductive rights.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        We should vote libertarian because none of these abuses have ever taken place in countries run by libertarians.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        There is a third party for some of us to vote for: The Green Party. That solves the problem for lots of us liberal types. Unfortunately the Green’s are just electorally hopeless, with plenty of internal problems, as the libertarians are. So how is former Lib Party nominee Bob Barr doing?Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        It appears that he’s a Catholic. That shoots down the Calvinist theory; it doesn’t help the religious bigotry theory; it interferes with the Randian theory.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Bob Barr’s nomination (VP: Wayne Allyn Root!) did a nice body blow to the credibility of the Libertarian Party in general. If there is an upside, it was to have a “major” politician come out and say “I was wrong when I exercised power the way I did when I was in office” but at the cost of having a politician run who passed some really odious laws when he was in office.

        They should have nominated Ruwart (despite some of the dumb crap she’s said) or Kubby (despite some of the dumb crap he’s said).

        Thankfully, in 2008, I was able to vote for a little party called “Boston Tea” that, sadly, never took off. That said, I don’t regret my vote for Charles Jay and I wish that more of you had voted for him rather than someone who is doing his damnedest to legitimate every excess of his predecessor.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        “So how is former Lib Party nominee Bob Barr doing?”

        In the runoff for the Republican primary for a Georgia Congressional seat.

        How’s Ralph Nader doing?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        There is a third party for some of us to vote for: The Green Party. … Unfortunately the Green’s are just electorally hopeless, with plenty of internal problems, as the libertarians are.

        I wholeheartedly encourage you to vote Green. In fact there was some indication in ’08 that the Greens were the second choice of a good many libertarians because of a shared commitment against war and for an overlapping set of civil liberties stances. For myself, I agree with a lot of the Greens’ outcomes–it’s just their mechanisms that I really disagree with. I’d like to take every Green who complains about having to vote Democratic and surgically implant a prosthetic backbone to replace the one they’re obviously missing.

        So how is former Lib Party nominee Bob Barr doing?

        Running for Congress, but as a Republican again, thank gods.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        A good sign, maybe: Bob Barr’s “issues” portion of the website contains the following:

        Internet Tax
        Fair Tax
        Stand with Israel
        Separation of Powers
        Tax Reform

        I’m noticing the stuff that isn’t on there… abortion, homosexuality, and the war on drugs. Huh. Maybe he did learn a thing or two talking to libertarians.

        Of course, his immigration policy sucks as does his stance on Iran but I honestly expected there to be more categories for me to point to as examples of how little he learned. Instead, I’m stuck pointing to the fact that he’s merely a nativist war-monger.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @kolohe Nader is just dandy. He sporked the Greens quite a bit, but his ego survived unscathed.
        @james-hanley Barr managed to hurt the Lib’s less than Nader did to the Greens, which i guess is good. But it doesn’t speak well of either party that recent leaders have had so little commitment to building the parties up to something meaningful.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        The problem for the LP is the same as what’s happening to the GOP; it’s dominated by the shouters and extremists. I think it could potentially be a lot more influential if it moderated, but getting to that point is a collective action problem–lots of individuals might happily join in when it looks like the moderates are taking over, but why would any one of them invest probably futile efforts before that?

        Maybe the Greens, too? I haven’t been looking close enough to know.

        Of course that’s not to pretend that the most fundamental barriers are the structural supports for a 2 party system, from the separated presidency to single districts for legislators, to ballot access laws, to media-hosted candidate debates.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:


        I think third parties would be well served by starting with local positions (school board, water board, board of supervisor, mayor, state legislature, etc), and working up very slowly.

        This is unglamorous work and no one seems interested though.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        That’s how it worked for the religious right.

        The Greens have done that in a few urban areas, and the libertarians have done it a bit in the Mountain West (where the conservatism is more of a live-and-let-live variety than the moralistic preoccupations of the South–the political cultures of the two regions have never really been too similar, despite both being “conservative”).

        I haven’t yet noticed it going very far yet. Unlike the religious right they don’t have the advantage of working within one of the dominant parties, so I’m dubious about their prospects.Report