Burke’s Law: Why Eric Cantor’s Politics Don’t Sing

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elizabethburkeheadshotEach day as I wake up, sip on my soothing vanilla coffee, open my computer and start reading my e-newspapers, I wait in breathless anticipation for the first mention of House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Lately, I feel like Cantor is my go-to guy for all the funny activities of the GOP-well, not so much activities than holding press conferences to emphatically say “No!” to anything the Administration says. There are others officials in the GOP bag-o’-monkeys who consistently make me think “How were they elected?” But on an almost daily basis, Cantor rocks my funny bone. So on this particular morning there it was: Mr. Cantor exclaiming that Democrats are “Extreme” (you just know he’d capitalize the “E”), that is GOP is “mainstream.” Did Mr. Cantor miss the last election in which the highest percentage of voters in decades turned out and voted Democrats into the House and Senate with overwhelming majorities, not to mention the White House? That’s “Extreme” voting?

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It was on the C-Span morning show, called Washington Journal, that Mr. Cantor spewed such insanity. It was on the same program that he responded to a Fox-Rush-O’Reilly-addicted wingnut who actually said, “What is really scaring the rest of us, the other half of us, is the fascism. I mean the true fascism that is happening in this country today. … The belligerent takeover of a one-party system.” Oh and she also gave a hearty shoutout to my favorite Republican train wreck, Michelle Bachman (R-Minn.).

Based on Cantor’s response, I would bet all the money in my piggy bank and anything I make this year in income that this scary knucklehead has absolutely no idea what Fascism is or means. Frighteningly, the caller seemed to simply regurgitate whatever her favorite neoconservative radio show has burned into her brain.

Well, let me help. According to Merriam-Webster, here is the definition of Fascism: 1: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition; 2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.

Did Cantor, as an act of patiotic duty, carefully explain to this caller what the differences are between a functioning democracy and a Fascist state? No, he did not. Did he defend our sacred Constitution or exalt the success of our 233-year-old governmental system? No, he did not. He actually agrees with the caller and therefore lends credibility to the caller’s borderline-illiterate thinking. Cantor also gave a big thumb of the nose to all the leading bipartisan economists who have stated that what the country needs right now is not big spending but bigger spending to mitigate the morass of the last eight years of dark fiscal madness.

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If Cantor and his nonsensical Republican base think likening the American governmental system to Fascism and/or Totalitarianism is not “Extreme,” perhaps they should rise off their comfy couches and visit an actual Fascist state and see how much it compares. It was an act of treason not to correct the caller-just see for yourself at about the 9 minute mark.

From Cantor’s point of view, it would seem that being mainstream means equating the U.S. to a Fascist regime-or at least allowing that impression to hang in the air. In the battle between Mainstream and Extreme, it seems to me that there was an Extreme number of Mainstream voters who exercised their democratic (and Democratic) right last November 4. Moreover, two straight electoral debacles for the GOP have put the lie to such rhetorical nonsense-nevermind having to compare Obama’s approval ratings to Bush’s or the Republicans’. And Cantor actually thinks it’s a valid point that Republicans are defending America from Fascism? My fear-far greater than American Fascism-is that Cantor secretly loves adding fuel to his base’s rhetorical fire and will continue unapologetically to do so, even if it risks ramping up various forms of potential violence, such as domestic terrorism. I am convinced this silent, wink-wink, tacit approval is Cantor’s way of building up support for what looks like a sure run for the Republican Party nomination in 2012. At last-transparency in Republican politics! What a shame that Cantor’s politics would appear not only to be anti-Obama, which is his right, but fundamentally anti-American, which is wrong.

Elizabeth Burke, a New York-based actor, has been involved in politics since her first campaign at age 16.