Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Constituents: Eric Cantor wants to hear that you agree with his bankrupt agenda.

Blogger's note: This is the second in a series of posts that I wrote in February of 2012 as part of a writing fellowship application. See the introduction to this series here. Eric Cantor's foray into education reform a la vouchers and privatization--he desires to "move heaven and earth to fix education for the most vulnerable" and says that "our schools are too dangerous"--along with recent attempts to re-invent himself reminded me of this post about how he was was (also) trying to re-make himself one year ago.

Eric Cantor has sent out an e-mail to his constituents; the subject line reads “I’d like to Hear From You.”  The congressman wants “to understand where you stand on the many issues facing our nation and how they’re impacting you and your family.” Included is a survey full of leading questions.

Eric Cantor is notorious for ignoring his constituents, but people or corporations outside of his district, however, are another story. During the 2010 campaign, his advance staff went so far as to have local police remove and arrest for disorderly conduct, trespassing, and resisting arrest a Louisa, Virginia, constituent from a campaign event at his local coffee shop—one that the constituent had registered for. This past August, two hundred of Cantor’s constituents rented a ballroom in the same hotel where Cantor was holding an “advisory council meeting,” again to which he had invited constituents (via an announcement on a Tea Party website). They had been unable to get a meeting with Cantor and were hoping to be heard at this event. Ultimately, the group was kicked out of the hotel where the event was held—the hotel cited discomfort with hosting “conflicting events.”

Three Democrats are competing for the chance to run against Cantor this election. David Hunsicker formerly served in the Air Force and is real estate broker from Orange County. E. Wayne Powell, also a military (army) vet is an attorney. Jim Phillips is a former Assistant Attorney General of Virginia and a Richmond law professor. In 2010, Cantor was challenged by one Democrat and one Tea Party candidate—they held debates which Cantor declined to take part in. Democrat Rick Waugh won 34.1% of the vote and Floyd Bayne 6.5%, certainly not very much, but considering Cantor’s amassed power and that Waugh and Bayne were no-names with no national support, it’s not too shabby, either.

Perhaps with three lining up to oppose him this year, each with more publicity and money than 2010’s candidates, Cantor is somewhat on the defensive and realizing that he needs to at least make a show of engaging in the campaign. Go ahead and laugh, but a poll done in November shows signs of vulnerability. Furthermore, if he weren’t feeling a need to polish his image he wouldn’t have taped this segment with 60 Minutes where he showcased his pro-choice wife and his affinity for rap music. Days later, during a Q & A session after reading to elementary students in his district, he distanced himself from his portrayal on the news show, saying, "You never know what those kind of shows are going to do or not do," and that the producers left out that while “the beat [in rap music] may be okay,” the lyrics are “abhorrent.” On second thought, he doesn’t much care for rap music.

My prediction is that Cantor will still win but by a slimmer margin than he did last election. What will matter in part is how much his opponents are able to call his constituents’ attention to his capitulations to outside Big Money. For example, Cantor just seriously weakened the soon-to-be-passed STOCK Act, an insider-trading ban for members of Congress, by removing an amendment which would have required “political intelligence consultants” to disclose their activities and a proposal that enables the feds to more easily prosecute corrupt public officials. In 2009, Cantor, an investor in the mortgage industry, opposed a measure that would have helped home buyers get lower interest rates and avoid foreclosure.

Perhaps if voters in the VA-07 get this message, they’ll decide the rhymes he’s been rapping in Congress are simply too abhorrent to continue.

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