Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist sees the astonishing primary defeat of Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as a victory in the quest for smaller government, which he points out was the tea party movement’s original reason for existence.
“Cantor’s defeat was really a ‘trade-up’ to a candidate who is more anti-government spending, and more oriented toward lowering taxes and following the Constitution,” he told WND.
“This is always progress.”
The loss of the seven-term Virginia congressman in Tuesday’s primary to Dave Brat, a little-known economics professor, has shocked Washington. As the campaign wound down, immigration become a focus, with Brat accusing Cantor of supporting “amnesty” for illegal aliens.
Norquist, president and founder of Americans for Tax Reform, said “the idea that the tea party died or went away is nonsense.”
“The ideas of the tea party as enunciated in a thousand rallies the week of April 15, 2009, were: ‘Spend less and go back to the Constitution.'”
The tea party hasn’t gone away, he said, it “went to Congress.”
“The tea party largely inhabits the modern Republican Party,” said Norquist.
“It took me 25 years to get the Republican Party to sign a pledge not to raise taxes; it took the tea party less that four years to get the Republican Party focused on spending and taxes with the Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” he pointed out.
Norquist touted the passage of a ban on earmarks and the sequester, which “cut $2.5 trillion off Obama’s wish-list on spending, with a real ceiling, not a make-believe request.”
“These were massive events,” he said. “Republicans are not looking to live within that spending limit, with a focus on spending and taxes.”
Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, a non-profit promoting constitutional government, economic freedom and traditional values, noted there was a 37 percent increase in turnout in Cantor’s district compared to the 2012 presidential election.
“That has to be a huge factor in any analysis, and I believe it is indicative of grassroots enthusiasm and the fact that the grassroots is sick of the accretion of power by the Washington establishment,” he said.
Hanna said people in the grassroots “are increasingly convinced that big government doesn’t work very well.”
“Therefore, the accretion of power by the federal government, or a particular member of the House or a senator that used to be very effective electorally is now beginning to have the opposite effect,” he said.
Norquist said the establishment press has hurt the image of the tea party, casting it as “candidates who are crazy warlocks who are running hopeless campaigns.”
“If by the tea party you mean voters who are going to stand up and say, “My congressman is not doing enough to limit spending and cut taxes,” that’s going to happen again and again,” Norquist said. “That’s a good thing.”
He said the tea party “wants to be for principled candidates who responsibly represent the ideas of limiting government spending and cutting taxes.”
Norquist said another lesson from Cantor’s loss is that “congressional leaders cannot get in the comfortable position of compromising to avoid conflict, minimize opposition, and buy off problems.”
“You start to raise money from people who really don’t support your positions,” he said.
He said House Republican leaders must also remember they are congressman who represent a district.
“Evidently the district felt ignored,” he said.
“Even congressional leaders must remember you have to walk your district constantly, even if it means going to baseball games in the community on Saturday and three church services on Sunday, over and over again.”