You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

DeLAY: A race that rocked the rafters in Washington

- - Thursday, June 12, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

That tremor that rattled Washington D.C. a few years back is nothing compared to the earthquake that rocked the city this week.

Before Tuesday, everybody seemed to know everything about everything. Now nothing makes sense. That's what happens when a sitting House majority leader loses his primary race — badly — for the first time in the history of the republic.

I'm not trying to be a know-it-all here, but Eric Cantor's loss in his Virginia House primary race reflects everything I have been arguing for in this column and elsewhere for over a year now. While the pundits try to figure things out, what I see is a spiritual revival and a Constitution-based revolution coming to pass with the victory of conservative Dave Brat over Mr. Cantor. As I travel across the country, what I hear from people, especially Christians, is that they want to restore God to the public square, that they want to restore respect for the Constitution, and that they're hungry for leaders who will take on that mission.

You don't need sophisticated analysis or polls to figure out what happened in the Virginia vote. Just listen to what Dave Brat himself has been saying.

He may not be officially part of the tea party movement, but Dave Brat is a tea party-type guy. In every speech he gave, he reflected what the tea party and true conservatives all across the country are demanding, and that's constitutional government. He didn't just run on the immigration, as some would like you to believe. He ran on the true Republican creed, and he won going away.

What is the Republican creed? I see just a few basic elements, elements all conservatives can rally around. First and foremost, faith in God. Second, a belief in free markets. And finally, that individuals are entitled to equal rights, fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and a strong national defense.

That's what Mr. Brat ran on, those are the principles he cited in every speech he gave. He linked himself to a movement I see spreading across the country and he clearly touched a nerve. It clearly touched a nerve in the 7th District of Virginia, a very religious district and one that honors Judeo-Christian values. Dave Brat is an economics professor who studied at a Princeton seminary, so he's a man of faith. His win in part reflects the fact that he was a very good fit for the district he hopes to represent in Congress.

I have nothing bad to say about Mr. Cantor personally. He worked in my whip operation when I was in the House. He worked hard, was popular with our members and is one of the smartest guys I know. He was also a strong conservative, one who has continually pushed House Speaker John A. Boehner to set a coherent, conservative agenda to give guidance to the House Republican caucus.

Unfortunately, Eric Cantor in my view became the poster child among conservatives for the shortcomings of the leadership of the Republican majority in the House. There have been repeated rumblings about leadership challenges in the House, and Mr. Cantor got tarred by the lack of leadership, or perceived lack of leadership coming from the top. Those leaders are seen by the grass roots as simply not fighting the good fight — they're not holding President Obama accountable for his executive overreach, they're not using the leverage they have in the power of the purse, they literally are not setting an agenda conservatives can embrace. And people are upset.

Where do we go from here? For the talk of GOP disarray in the media, I see Dave Brat's victory energizing conservatives, energizing the tea party movement, energizing the constitutional wing of the Republican Party. All over the country, you're seeing people of strong spiritual values, strong leadership skills and strong constitutional principles stepping to the fore. Just last weekend I was at the Texas Republican convention and the energy was amazing. Thousands came, including people I had never seen before, all energized by the opportunity this election presents us to turn the country around.

The more we see results like the Cantor-Brat race, the higher that energy level will soar. Some Democrats may be celebrating Mr. Cantor's loss in the short term, but they better start worrying. The issues are against them, the president is toxic for Democratic candidates, and the conservative movement is alive and well.

Tom DeLay, a former congressman from Texas and House majority leader from 2003 to 2005, writes a weekly column for The Washington Times and www.washingtontimes.com.