Paul Krugman writes that Eric Cantor's defeat in his Republican primary signals the end of the Republican party as we know it. For decades, the Republican party has been selling itself to voters as far more radical than it actually is.
For example, Republicans preached against abortion rights since before Goldwater ran for president in 1964. The Moral Majority, founded in the 1970s, supported Republican presidential candidates like Reagan, Bush, and Dole. The Moral Majority campaigned for a ban on abortions and prayers in the schools.
Republican candidates gave lip service to social issues but ignored them once they got into office. This was an entirely practical thing to do, since there was little chance of convincing less fervent believers that these programs should be imposed on the entire population. Instead, the Republicans took the Moral Majority votes and used them to promote their own agenda, which included wars around the world to protect their financial interests and weakened regulations to protect their business interests.
The Tea Party first came to national prominence with the 2008 Presidential election. There was no clear idea of what the Tea Party stood for, primarily because Republican traditionalists quickly tried to grab its leadership. These included the corporatists, people who wanted to give more power to the corporations, and the libertarians, people who wanted to give more power to individuals as opposed to the state.
These two forces are diametrically opposed to each other. corporatists insist on corporations having more power over individuals, through laws that discourage lawsuits against them and Supreme Court rulings that give corporations more influence over elections than individuals. Libertarians want to preserve individual rights, not just from government control, but from corporate domination as well.
These two disparate factions continued to pour money into Republican coffers during 2010 and 2012, resulting in victories for Republicans in congress and in statehouses. But rank and file Republicans saw the results of these elections as reaffirming their worst fears, namely that the Republican establishment in Washington was continuing to buy their votes with empty promises.
Cantor was one of those politicians who pretended to be populist while getting cozy with financial interests. In the area of home mortgages and financial shenanigans, the tea party and the liberal left agree. They hate the one percent. People in rural Virginia, naturally conservative but very definitely not of the one percent, see Cantor as the enemy. That's the main reason he lost his primary.
Chalk up a victory for the 99 percent of us who find ourselves struggling in difficult economic times.