Today the media pundits are tripping over themselves to tell us what Cantor's primary defeat means for the future of national politics. But one word of caution about listening to their prognostications: these are the very same people who never saw this one coming. At some point we have to question their predictive capacities. Unless/until they are willing to do a little self-examination to uncover why they were so wrong, we should take their current machinations with one HUGE grain of salt.
I've been hesitant to say this outright, but I think one of the biggest reasons they get so much wrong is that too many of these pundits are lazy. Its much easier (and more conducive to lucrative linkbait) to simply run with the latest hysteria craze created by the right wingnuts. Over the last few years we've watched them become consumed with everything from presidential birth certificates to literally buying wingnut lies about an American POW before we have the facts. When it comes time for an election, they are quick to point out that American voters STILL say that job creation is their number one concern. And yet they spend all their time running after fake scandals....because its easy.
Its also easy to spend countless hours talking/writing about the perceived inadequacies of the current occupant of the White House. While they wring their hands about whether or not his unfavorables will impact the future of the Democratic Party, they are quick to dismiss the civil war brewing in the Republican Party once a couple of establishment candidates fended off primary challenges from tea partiers. What?! You mean we have to also cover 535 members of Congress? That's too much work!
There are HUGE tectonic shifts happening in our politics these days. Some of them were highlighted in this Cantor/Brat race - such as the diminishing role of money in politics (apparently Cantor outspent Brat 25:1 and still lost). Grassroots movements are gaining momentum on both the left and the right as people organize and inform themselves in ways that aren't tied to traditional media outlets. That's actually how a mostly unknown Senator Barack Obama surprised everyone with his defeat of the Democratic establishment candidate Hillary Clinton back in 2008.
And yet most of our media and pundit class haven't altered their assumptions about how our politics works these days. They're still using the old models that rely on money and top-down control. To understand what is happening and provide some value-added in their political prognostications, these folks are going to have to get off their asses and out of the D.C. bubble with a big dose of curiosity about what the hell is happening out here. Until they do that, they'll continue to get a lot of things wrong and wind up surprised by the likes of everyone from Brat to Obama.