In 2014, Eric Cantor lost his seat in the House of Representatives because he was focusing all his energy on inside baseball and almost none of his energy on his district. Congressman Dave Brat demonstrated that, even if you are relatively unknown, you can pick off the most powerful politicians if you are willing to shine a light into the darkness of their absence.
Every politician should have gotten the message, immediately, that surrounding oneself with lobbyists and living in the world of the backroom deal isn’t going to cut it with constituencies any longer. The people are paying attention. Democrats and Republicans are paying attention.
Josh Kraushaar, writing for the National Journal, made some excellent observations about a couple of establishment candidates potentially on their way out. He began with the curious case of the resurrection of Indiana politician Evan Bayh.
When asked earlier in the campaign, Bayh couldn’t even remember his exact address In Indiana. There’s a reason for this. When Bayh relinquished his seat in 2010, he stayed in Washington, where he earned nearly $4 million in lobbying fees since January 2015. One public poll (Monmouth) shows Bayh holding a 6-point lead over GOP Rep Todd Young, but Republicans are confident the seat is trending in their direction.
The Democrat Party may have seen an experienced and well entrenched member of their club looking to rejoin them in the legislature, but voters see a K Street lobbyist looking to represent moneyed interests on the hill. Anti-establishmentism is a rejection of the idea that the people ought to elect representatives who will represent interests other than the people electing them.
Republicans, meanwhile, never expected to worry about losing Missouri’s Senate seat, given the state’s conservative bent. But Sen. Roy Blunt, one of the few lawmakers to serve in leadership in both the House and Senate, has a conspicuous seat on the Washington merry-go-round. His second wife, Abigail, is a big-time lobbyist for Kraft Foods Group, and his son, Matt, represents the auto lobby in Washington after having served as governor of Missouri from 2005 to 2009.
Voters are now looking at the big picture. Heidi Cruz worked for Goldman Sachs; a fact that had a terrible impact on Senator Ted Cruz’s ability to position himself as an anti-establishment candidate. Senator Blunt’s wife’s position with Kraft Foods and his son’s work with the auto industry is leading folks in Missouri to question whether or not the Senator represents them…or not.
People used to vote for political parties, but as conditions worsened on the ground economically and culturally the people began paying more attention to the individuals who were supposed to be representing their interests. We used to turn a blind eye to the jobs and activities of family members, but as it became increasingly clear between 2000 and 2006 that Republicans weren’t living up to their promises, the American People began looking for a reason why.
It did not take a great deal of investigation to discover that politicians were using their positions of power in Washington D.C. to enrich themselves and their allies. That is what they were really up to in Congress. They were not about The People’s business. This realization infuriated the American People and led to TEA Party’s popping up all across the country. However, the TEA Party picked too many candidates that turned out to be no better than the establishment shills they sent packing. Many in the TEA Party got restless with rage and have converted from a more thoughtful conservatism to outright democratic populism; and so Donald Trump was nominated to represent Republicans for the office of the President.
There is too much information available to average citizens for politicians to hide the veracity of their vocation. If they aren’t representing their constituents, eventually their constituencies will rise up against them. That’s why Congressman Dave Brat is in Congress and why Eric Cantor works for Moelis & Company. Of course, Moelis & Company may have gotten the better deal, because they were able to hire the key to every locked door in Washington D.C.; doors closed to Congressmen looking to serve the interests of the people who elected them.