The Meteoric Fall of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

In any human endeavor, people will succeed and they will fail. What determines if they will succeed or fail depends on whether they abide or chose not to abide by the universal values of honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. Many politicians have gone to Washington DC with a promising political career that later failed because they did not abide by these universal values. Last week Eric Cantor became one of those politicians. The GOP House Majority Leader suffered a crushing defeat in a primary election in his Virginia constituency.

As a former resident of Virginia and having resided in Eric Cantor’s district, I am not surprised that he lost his primary election. Virginia voters are politically shrewd and they tend to vote for candidates not based on party affiliation but on whom they believe will be effective or has been effective in getting things done. They have elected Republican and Democratic candidates as they see fit to do so. Eric Cantor’s defeat was primarily because he was not effective in Washington, far too busy tending to his political ambitions, and obstructing President Obama’s agenda.

Eric Cantor as the House Minority Whip from 2009 to 2011 and the House Majority Leader since 2011, spent most of the past five years trying to delegitimize and demonize President Obama. As the House Majority leader he controlled a House that obstructed the president’s agenda as reflected in the House blocking bills like the Dream Act, the Jobs Bill, Wall Street Reform, Revamping of College Student Loans, the Debt Ceiling, the Fair Pay for Women Bill, Immigration reform, extending unemployment benefits, among other things.

It is unfortunate that Eric Cantor and the GOP leadership have engaged in their obsessive anti-Obama crusade because it has not served their party or the country well. In their overzealous effort to delegitimize President Obama, they jump at every effort to demonize him and tarnish his character with comments like, he is un-American, he is weak, he is divisive, and he cannot be trusted. The irony of these comments is that they are more reflective of the GOP character and not the president’s character. Contrary to their behavior, the president has been more gracious in dealing with these personal attacks and remains focused on his agenda – this is the sign of a good leader.

Eric Cantor’s failed leadership is a reflection of the failure of the GOP to help realign America to where it needs to be economically, politically, and socially. This failure has weakened the country, thwarted the growth of the economy, and helped to create more cynicism in the political process. In their Don Quixotic quest to destroy president Obama, the GOP has pursued spurious investigations (Benghazi, IRS Scandal, and Fast and Furious) that in some instances were conducted in an unprofessional and extremely partisan manner.

It used to be customary for Congress to close ranks when a domestic or foreign crisis posed a risk to national security. This has not been the case with President Obama though. When Putin invaded Crimea, the GOP members called the president weak and actually praised Putin as a better leader. Sarah Palin said, “Putin wrestles with bears while Obama wears mom jeans.”

Recently the GOP’s hypocrisy reared its ugly head with the exchange of the US soldier Bode Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners that were held at Guantánamo Bay. Senator John McCain (the man who discovered Sarah Palin) flip-flopped on this issue. The high-ranking GOP senator said he would support any method to free Bergdahl. Once Bergdahl was freed, he opposed it. Other GOP members have attacked the president claiming that a ransom was part of the deal to free Bergdahl. In 2002, the news media reported that President Bush administration paid a ransom to the Philippine based al Qaeda terrorist network, Abu Sayyaf, for the release of the American husband-and-wife missionary team, Martin and Gracia Burnham. Is this GOP hypocrisy or just a short-term memory lapse?

If Eric Cantor’s humiliating defeat sent a shockwave through the GOP camp, then it should be a wake-up call for them. Whether this will help them focus more on their internal party problems instead of their anti-Obama crusade remains to be seen. What the GOP should do is to examine their leadership and their strategies to become a credible party again. Specifically, they should examine the leadership of key party positions because their ineffectiveness has caused them to deviate from their core conservative principles.

The GOP’s unprecedented negative treatment of the president, the futile obstructionist ploys, and the fracture within their party are signs of failed leadership. The GOP has allowed the Tea Party to advocate their political views under the Republican umbrella and to radicalize their platform. A strong GOP leadership would not have allowed the Tea Party to join the Republican Party while identifying themselves as an alternate political party. What they should have done is to let the Tea Party form their own third party and prove themselves to the American people.

In my book, Whom God Has Blessed, Let No Man Curse, I describe why the GOP failed and will continue to fail in their effort to bring down President Obama. Like the basic values of honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect, the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Pathway (code that charts and exemplary lifestyle and promotes positive relationship with others) is what President Obama seems to abide by and the GOP ignores. The Noble Eightfold pathway includes the following:

1. Correct understanding

2. Correct motives

3. Correct speech

4. Correct conduct

5. Correct living

6. Correct effort

7. Correct intellectual activity

8. Correct contemplation

The Noble Eightfold Path is not just for Buddhists, it represent universal common sense principles. The GOP leaders and indeed all politicians should strive to live by the Noble Eightfold Path. Not only would this make America stronger, it would help the country to transcend its social problems.