An Empty Majority

UNITED STATES - Jan 14: House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, R-VA., during a news conference after the House Republican Caucus
UNITED STATES - Jan 14: House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, R-VA., during a news conference after the House Republican Caucus in the U.S. Capitol on January 14, 2014. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Tuesday night marked the first time since 1899 -- you read that correctly -- that a House majority leader has lost a primary election. It was just yesterday that I was listening to NPR discuss how Eric Cantor would be the next Speaker of the House when John Boehner decided he was tired of herding cats.

Instead of victory, we have humiliation. Defeat. And a sweet, sweet vindication that the Republican strategy of stoking up faux-populism, of just saying no, of never proposing a solution to any problem, has blown up so spectacularly because in their gorgeously gerrymandered districts, people -- voters -- have bought the line. They believe, as Ronald Reagan ruinously said, that government is the problem.

The endpoint of this insane ideology is the election of Tea Partiers who are not interested in governing at all but in dismantling government itself. And the institutional Republicans, the Eric Cantors and the like who gambled that obstructionism alone would give them power, are seeing their fortunes turn and their majority become meaningless.

So as an unabashed liberal or progressive or whatever you want to call me, I really cannot help but luxuriate in the natural conclusion of Republican obstructionism. Yes, they may be able to take back the Senate. But what will that power mean? Absolutely, positively nothing, because they'll be stuck with Tea Party types who don't want any government action on any issue. They want the current trend to continue, where states pick up more and more of the tab, where individual municipalities push forward minimum wage laws because the federal government is paralyzed. Meanwhile the gap between the rich and the poor widens every day, and Republicans have convinced many rural Americans that the problem is the tax rate on the wealthy.

So unlike when the Republicans controlled Congress in the 2000s and were able to run us into the fiscal ground with wars and tax cuts and (gasp) federal control of education, none of that steamrolling will be happening this time around. The Tea Partiers will just keep voting on the repeal of Obamacare and praying that Hillary doesn't run and praying that God will deliver them a savior who can somehow win the general election by building border fences with his own two hands, eliminating the department of education and instituting a flat tax.

In an even more satisfying irony, the decanted Cantor has been the greatest proponent of not cooperating with the administration on any piece of legislation at all. He, along with his compatriot Paul Ryan, instead has championed "broadening the tax base," otherwise known as taxing the poor.

So forgive me for going to sleep last night with a little joy in my heart, even if it means we get another Tea Partier in the House. For a bit, it feels as though there is some sense of justice and democracy left. No matter how much money or power you accumulate, your own monstrous sentiments can come back to bite you.

And never has a majority in power seemed so powerless.