Photo by Tanner Cole
When I heard the news,...
Most of the news about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's stunning primary loss this week focused on his opponent Dave Brat's appeal to the anti-immigrant Tea Party base.
But there is another, more interesting angle to Brat's win, and that is what he had to say about the corruption of the Republican Party because of its coziness with big business, and especially the big banks.
In a speech to a Tea Party audience in Mechanichsville,
Brat outlined the origins of the financial crisis in the United States:
"All the investment banks up in DC, New York, those guys should have gone to jail," he told the group. "Instead of going to jail, where did they go? They went out to Eric's Rolodex."
That line elicited a burst of appreciative laughter.
Brat then told an anecdote about a radio show caller who told him he would never overcome Eric Cantor's spending in the race. Brat had just over $200,000 to Cantor's $5.4 million.
"The good news is money doesn't vote; people do," Brat said.
Of the Republicans, Brat commented:
"They have no people and no pulse right now. They are just fried."
"The Tea Party, the grassroots, is built on principle. You've got vision."
"The Republicans are selling out those principles," he said, adding that Cantor "is running on the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable."
"Brat campaigned explicitly on jailing bankers and on Cantor's backing of the STOCK Act. His election was a rejection of political corruption," says Zaid Jilani, who worked for Think Progress, United Republic and Bold Progressives before returning to graduate school at Syracuse University.
Jilani cites Brat's discussion of the STOCK Act, which he said would have stopped "insider trading by Congressional members and their families ... one Congressman [Cantor] stopped it and changed the language."
Brat also criticized Cantor's support for NSA spying, in speeches that resonated with the grassroots.
"The NSA’s indiscriminate collection of data on all Americans is a disturbing violation of our Fourth Amendment right to privacy," Brat said.
"Republicans are not the only ones who should take heed," says Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. Democrats are also vulnerable to grassroots anger about their Representatives' complicity in the violation of citizens' constitutional rights, as well as the corrupting influence of money in politics.