Cantor's loss is the Democrats' gain

John Avlon, in The Daily Beast, quotes Winston Churchill's famous line: "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile — hoping it will eat him last."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) helped make the Tea Party — and it just ate him alive.

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A lot has been written about how and why this upset occurred — immigration, out-of-touch, botched campaign, anti-Semitism, etc. — but the bottom line is that the confluence of factors weakens national Republicans.

First, it ensures a brutal battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. The Tea Party discord and anger that was thought to be on the decline will now be on the rise. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has a very big smile on his face today.

Second, the issues that drove this insurgency and appeal to the Tea Party — anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-government, anti-choice, anti-tax — are now going to be more hardline than ever in the House Republican caucus.

Third, there is no sense of responsibility among this crowd; they don't feel they owe anybody anything. They come to Congress not to do the hard work but to rail against the "establishment." Thus, their approach is to shut down the government, refuse to raise the debt ceiling, behave in as outrageous a way as humanly possible.

Fourth, they are loyal to no one, least of all the congressional leadership or even the Republican Party. They got here on their own and they are the Lone Rangers of American politics.

Fifth, they are way outside America's mainstream. They are not in sync with the American people — on gay rights, on women's rights, on civil rights, on climate change, on issue after issue.

The Democrats will benefit from the marginalization of a divided Republican Party that further antagonizes African-Americans, Hispanics, young people, independents and moderates.

This further puts the Republicans out as extreme, too willing to prevent the government from functioning, too ready to prevent Washington from getting on with the business of the day. They become more and more the anti-party — the against party — the party that is mired in the past and has no plans for the future.

The more radical and angry the Tea Party Republicans become, the less likely they are to win elections, especially presidential elections. They may pick off some like Cantor and Sen. Thad Cochran (R) in Mississippi, but this will cost them dearly and the Democrats will be the beneficiaries.

The alligators that the right-wing Republicans have filled the swamp with will proceed to devour them at an alarming rate. Lesson: Don't feed the animals!

Contact Fenn at pfenn@fenn-group.com.