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Eric Cantor (R-VA) speaks at the Values Voter Summit, 2011.
When in doubt, yell louder.
Eric Cantor is one of those politicians who gives politicians a bad name. You might be in a good mood, you might be having a pleasant morning in which you are momentarily willing again to accept that some person elected to office somewhere via a vote of the people might not be a craven liar whose sole purpose for being elected is because he likes the office furniture, but then the postman delivers a new batch of Eric Cantor flyers and the bluebirds of momentary optimism flying around your head all make a dash for the (closed) window over the kitchen sink. Smack. Smack. Smack.
One mailing has photos of Clinton and Obama, saying the Virginia Republican is “fighting for the truth about Benghazi.” [...]

[O]ne piece brands “our Congressman Eric Cantor” as the person “leading the fight against President Obama’s liberal agenda.” Another says that “conservative Republican Eric Cantor is stopping the Obama Reid plan to give illegal aliens amnesty.”

Cantor also highlights congressional investigations in his mailings. In one piece, Cantor is pictured with his arms crossed in shirtsleeves with “standing up to the IRS” emblazoned on the literature. In another, Cantor mentions that he called for a “special prosecutor in IRS targeting investigation.”

Eric Cantor is in no real danger in his primary. He's not going to be booted in favor of a more-rabid tea party challenger, he's not going to be bloodied, and it would take an act of campaign genius on the part of his opponent, a guy you have never heard of, to even smudge his nose. But he's going all-in on the crackpot conspiracy theories of the day, the IRS "punishment" of sweet conservative nonprofits and the Benghazi something-something-something. (What is the truth about Benghazi? We don't know, we just know it is tremendously damaging to Hillary Clinton, whatever it is.) We can be excruciatingly charitable here and presume that Eric Cantor knows both of these things are crocks of manure—unlike others in his House bracket, he does not seem an aggressively stupid man—which means he fancies himself in on the con.

This is the essential difference between the parties right now, and it's important. It's damn important, and if you're covering politics and haven't figured this out yet it you need to quit your day job and go find one that lets you drink less. Democratic politicians still generally seek to forge rhetoric that evokes the the most popular positions, a muddy version of centrism well in keeping with tried-and-true political game theory—although the insular nature of current Washington often leads them to get both the "centrist" and "popular" parts pointedly wrong, especially where Wall Street or other large contributors are involved. Republican politicians, on the other hand, regularly bind themselves to the most conservative positions, relying on raw base motivation to overwhelm more neutral public opinions a given subject.

You will be hard pressed to find members of the Democratic Party trying to one-up each other for the most liberal position on a topic, and there's certainly no Democratic-sponsored conspiracy theories even loosely akin to the various lunatic assertions from GOP lawmakers on topics such as the United Nations, secret non-Americanship of the president, worldwide hoaxes perpetrated by the powers of "science", Benghazi!, and takeyourpick. Republican politicians, on the other hand, are currently all but required to stake out the farthest right position they can credibly lay claim to. On every topic, mind you, including the Fictitious Ones.

It is a perfectly logical strategy, the natural outcome of a reliance on base mobilization from the Southern Strategy to the Moral Majority to etc., coupled with a now-dwindling, pointedly monolithic base. The party is absolutely dependent on stirring up the emotions of their much smaller base in order to prod them into electoral dominance over a larger, much more diverse non-Republican majority, but that is a strategy that not only lends itself to extremism and the manufacturing of fictitious threats, it all but requires it.

Originally posted to Hunter on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 11:35 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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