Politicians, take note: Listen to your constituency. You are their public servant, and if you do not do the job they expect of you, they will fire you.
U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., learned that lesson the hard way this week, as he was soundly defeated in a primary election by a Tea Party candidate, David Brat, who had his ear much closer to the ground.
Money is not always the answer, either, as Cantor’s campaign spent nearly as much on steakhouses as the $200,000 Brat’s campaign had managed to raise, in total. Incumbency – and an easily researched record – did not help, nor did endorsements by everyone from the American Chemistry Council to the National Rifle Association.
Voters recognized Cantor had become too comfortable in Washington, D.C., and had forgotten his roots; though Cantor, himself, betrayed only the slightest understanding his position was in danger. Unfortunately, he decided to try to appease voters by becoming a waffler.
Knowing his constituency believed he had turned a deaf ear to their concerns about immigration legislation, Cantor tried to do an about-face, sending out mailers in which he bragged about blocking Senate plans to “give illegal aliens amnesty.”
But voters were not buying it. The energy and effort by those who were fed up with politics as usual paved the way for voters to send a message – and potentially a new Congressman – to Capitol Hill. It has shaken even the likes of U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who acknowledged “As far as the midterm elections are concerned, it’s a whole new ballgame.”
How sad, that the idea elected representatives should be constantly on their toes, thinking about the needs and desires of the people they serve means a “new ballgame” for Washington, D.C. With any luck, voters across the country will continue to reinforce the call for leaders who do the jobs for which they are elected.