Revolutions often consume their own. One by one, from Danton to Robespierre, French revolutionaries sent their leaders to the guillotine. Now, the
Cantor was one of the early champions of the tea party faction in the House Republican caucus. When he rose to become majority leader, this made relations with House Speaker
Thus, on Tuesday, Cantor was taken down by an upstart challenger named
The instant analysis attributed Cantor’s loss to his less-than-absolutist stance on illegal immigration. Cantor was willing to say there might be a place in American society for the children of undocumented immigrants. But deeper scrutiny shows that the immigration issue was just part of Brat’s broader attack against Cantor’s coziness with lobbyists and big business -- in particular the
Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, is a states-rights fan and critic of big government, but also an antagonist of big business and Wall Street. This populist impulse is an aspect of the tea party movement that is often overlooked, yet may be the sharpest line of division between many tea party militants and the GOP establishment.
Republicans have always been the party of business and, while giving lip service to the needs of the middle class, GOP leaders in
Despite this, it would obviously be inaccurate to think of the tea party as a conservative version of the
The religious right seems to have been absorbed into the broader tea party revolution. On primary-election night, Brat quoted Scripture and told his giddy supporters that their surprise victory was a "miracle from God." That sense of being part of the Lord's army makes uncompromising tea party activists even less inclined to compromise and makes conservative leaders such as Eric Cantor, who learned that compromise is part of governing, look like traitors to the cause.