There is a gleeful air among liberal Jews about the political demise of Eric Cantor, and perhaps that is a credit to Cantor’s effectiveness. Nobody ever rejoices at the self-immolation of an incompetent opponent. If Cantor was not good at opposing the liberal agenda, liberals would certainly bemoan his loss.
Yet Cantor’s sudden disappearance will deliver no benefit whatsoever to those liberals. He will likely be replaced as majority leader by someone just as conservative — if not more so. He most certainly will be replaced in Congress by someone even more conservative.
If you’re interested in actual policy and getting stuff done in Washington, this is a loss. Cantor had the confidence of the Republican base, including the tea partyers. The national tea party groups were not targeting him. If they’re taking credit for his downfall now, they’re simply jumping on the bandwagon.
Truth be told, the tea party wing of Congress was fine with Cantor. They didn’t love him, but they didn’t hate him, and most importantly, they respected him. Even if you disagreed with Cantor, at least you knew where he stood and you knew what he could deliver, policy-wise. So if you actually care about the business of government and laws getting passed, this is a loss. Because Cantor was one of the more responsible members of the Republican caucus.
As a Jew and a Republican, I’m sorry that Cantor lost, but I didn’t need Cantor for me to be a Republican. I am certainly not worried about my place in the Republican Party.
Cantor wasn’t voted out because he’s Jewish. He was voted out because he was too close with the steakhouse crowd, and was too detached from the barbecue pit crowd. Politicians lose touch and they lose elections.
Of course, I’m not surprised to see liberal Jews think that identity politics — so critical to their world view — will help push some Republican Jews, stung by the loss of a high-ranking Jewish Republican, back into the Democratic column.
But some of us have evolved from such base considerations. I vote and support anyone who I think represents my point of view — regardless of his or her religion or ethnicity. I didn’t need Eric Cantor to assure me that the Jews would be welcome in the Republican Party, and I’m confident that other Jewish Republicans feel exactly the same way.