The initial impression proved accurate and enduring. In 1991, Eric Cantor first ran for a seat in the House of Delegates. He dropped by our offices to introduce himself to the Editorial Board. The meeting impressed the participants, as Cantor projected a maturity seldom seen in politicians with far more experience. We anticipated great things. In 2000, Cantor won election to the House of Representatives. The Times-Dispatch subsequently called him “indispensable.” The Almanac of American Politics cited the description.
Cantor remains indispensable. He has risen to a congressional position — House majority leader — more elevated than any held by a Virginian in modern times. His responsibilities rely on his skills and must tax his patience. The congressional caucuses for both parties seldom resemble garden clubs. Floor leaders not only lead but also serve at the pleasure of their members. And they have an obligation to govern. Cantor presides over a kindergarten; Democrats, who seemingly have not graduated from preschool, control the Senate and the presidency. House Republicans cannot always get what they want.
Cantor effectively has encouraged them to make their case. As whip he rallied his Republican colleagues to unanimous opposition to Obamacare. The House has passed numerous bills that offer alternatives to the Obama administration’s agenda. Harry Reid labels most of the GOP initiatives dead on arrival when they have reached the Senate.
Cantor also has replicated Ronald Reagan’s success in reaching bipartisan consensus on bills that, despite their lack of attention, have the potential to make differences in the lives of citizens. His Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act transfers money from the federal presidential campaign fund to research into pediatric cancer. He championed Democratic Sen. Mark Warner’s bill to ease access to federal data. The Warner legislation deserves applause from the tea party. Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine embraced Cantor’s Gabriella Miller bill, too. Both items fall under the category of getting things done.
Cantor reflects Reagan’s optimism and shuns the politics of resentment that pollute today’s climate. He believes the economy retains great potential; government’s job is to unleash the economy’s inherent strength. His education proposals stress the disciplines Americans will need if they are to compete with the rest of the world.
The Times-Dispatch long has said that national security and foreign policy define the federal government’s principal obligations. Cantor does not disappoint. Few members possess his knowledge of the specifics regarding the Middle East. He takes a broader view as well, as suggested by his comments on American approaches to Russia’s ambitions and to China’s appetites. The end of the Cold War did not bring an end to contention among nations. The ways of the world never change. This is not the moment for the U.S. to diminish its presence on the global stage. Cantor is situated to reset the reset.
A curse says: May you live in interesting times. The times are interesting indeed. Republicans tempted to dismiss Cantor as a lackey ought to ask: Would Nancy Pelosi consider Eric Cantor an insufficiently zealous supporter of the conservative cause? Would Harry Reid? Would Barack Obama? It is preposterous to suggest he is. Cantor leads from conviction.
Citizens in the 7th House District should vote for him on Tuesday, June 10.