David Brat in La-La Land

The Wall Street Journal (???!!!) has dug up some snips from David Brat’s writings that might cause one to question his, shall we say, cognitive coherence. This bit is typical:

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)

Like many Ayn Randbots, Brat ultimately has no use for representative democracy (“coerce others to fund every social program under the sun via majority rule”). And he goes on and on about how the state has a monopoly on violence —

It does not mean that the State alone uses violence, but it does mean that when push comes to shove, the State will win in a battle of wills. If you refuse to pay your taxes, you will lose. You will go to jail, and if you fight, you will lose. The government holds a monopoly on violence. Any law that we vote for is ultimately backed by the full force of our government and military. Do we trust institutions of the government to ensure justice? Is that what history teaches us about the State?

Is he saying that we should not make criminal justice a function of government? Who else should be doing it, then?

But is he also saying the Right is wrong to enforce its views on morality? Certainly I think it is, but what the Brat think? And why is he making “pro-life” noises on his issue page? Although they aren’t very clear noises —

Uphold Human Life
Human life is sacred, as proclaimed by our founding documents, and I will always support laws that protect life. Our fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness precede the existence of government and come from God, the Author of Nature. These core constitutional rights have been usurped by the Judicial and Executive Branches and must be returned to the people and their representatives.

You can parse that a lot of different ways, but I think he may be calling for returning abortion law to the states, where women are more likely to be coerced to continue unwanted pregnancy by majority rule.

Brat’s campaign manager is a real peach. Among other things, he wants to protect boys from the poisonous influence of women by banning them from teaching except in all-girl classrooms. One suspects this guy will be replaced for the general election.

The Virginia 7th District Congressional Election

The Democratic nominee is Jack Trammell, who is a professor at Randolph-Macon College. Here is his Wikipedia page and his “faculty focus” page. He has written a bunch of books and has a particular interest in addressing education discrimination and disabilities.

It appears Trammell was caught a bit flat-footed by Cantor’s defeat; he doesn’t even have a proper “Trammell for Congress” web page, just a donation page. If you want to throw him some money to get a proper campaign going, here is his Act Blue page.

The Republican nominee, David Brat, also is a professor at Randolph-Macon. He does have a proper “Brat for Congress” site, and here is his “issues” page. You can see it’s pretty much a wingnut checklist.

Along with a Ph.D. in economics Brat, a Catholic, has a master’s in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. The new Rick Santorum? According to Brat’s Wikipedia page, his published papers include “God and Advanced Mammon: Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism?” and “An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.” I seriously hope those go online sometime. See Steve M for more on Brat’s connections to the Church of Ayn Rand.

David Weigel’s analysis of how Brat defeated Cantor is essential reading. A lot of people are focusing on the education reform issue, but Weigel shows there’s a lot more to it than that. In a nutshell, the baggers and the lunatic fringe — Allen West, Laura Ingraham, et al. — are interested only in total opposition to President Obama. They are no longer interested in enacting conservative policies if doing so means compromising so much as a hair. Cantor was caught trying to please the U.S.Chamber of Commerce / ALEC / American Enterprise Institute crowd — the GOP’s chief sponsors — and in doing so he ran afoul of the bagger agenda, which is that Washington must do NOTHING that requires Democratic votes to pass. And as long as Dems hold the Senate, that pretty much means Washington must do NOTHING.

But Cantor made the mistake of trying to do SOMETHING.

In 2013, Cantor and the counter-establishment flew apart. Less than a month after Obama’s second inauguration, Cantor debuted a vision for a new GOP that would “make life work.” What if the GOP incentivized people to buy better health care and seek more useful college degrees? What if it went a little easier on immigrants? “It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home,” Cantor said at a February 2013 speech at the American Enterprise Institute. He pushed through school choice bills (The Student Success Act), and helped amend the farm bill to add more work requirements for food-stamp recipients.

None of this was “liberal,” per se. It just wasn’t what the conservative base had asked for, campaigned for, voted for. It was the agenda of the establishment, simpatico with the Chamber of Commerce. The business community had been there to elect Republicans in 2010 (and with less success in 2012), but in 2013 it was asking for Republicans to pass some sort of immigration reform and avoid a government shutdown. Cantor went with Democrats on a three-day tour to boost reform; he sought out a number of ways to avoid a shutdown, including a failed gambit to split the “defund Obamacare” vote from a separate appropriations vote.

My understanding is that Cantor was the one Republican leader in the House who could most skillfully thread the tactical needle, obstructing President Obama without allowing the GOP to shoot itself in the foot, Ted Cruz/government shutdown style. Without him, the freak flag is more likely to fly. Heh.

I don’t think anyone has any true sense of where this election might go, or if Trammell has even a remote hope of winning Cantor’s gerrymandered district. No matter who wins, though, I think losing Cantor in the House is going to b a huge handicap for the GOP.