Dave Brat, suddenly among the most famous House nominees in the country, has preached an economic policy message rooted in capitalism and Christ, expressing fear in his writings that a weak society could produce the next Hitler or that one party could try to monopolize morality.
“If markets are bad, which they are, that means people are bad, which they are. Want good markets? Change the people. If there are not nervous twitches in the pews when we preach, then we are not doing our jobs,” Brat wrote in a 13-page 2011 paper published in Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology. “If we all spread the word, we would not need the government to backstop every action we take.”
“I have the sinking feeling that it could all happen again, quite easily,” he wrote.
Brat, a Randolph-Macon College economics professor, stunned the political world on Tuesday night, when he defeated House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorTrump allies warn: No compromise on immigration Chamber of Commerce overhauls lobbying operation Laura Ingraham under consideration for White House press secretary MORE (Va.) in a Republican primary, a feat Brat described as a "miracle" on Fox News.
Now Brat, lauded by the Tea Party following his victory, is thrust into the national political spotlight, and his economic papers are being sifted through for clues about how he would govern.
"The government holds a monopoly on violence. Any law that we vote for is ultimately backed by the full force of our government and military. Do we trust institutions of the government to ensure justice?” Brat wrote in 2011. “Do you trust that power to the political Right? Do you trust it to the Left? If you answered 'no' to either question, you may have a major problem in the future.”
Brat received a doctorate in economics from American University and a master's of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.
He now faces Democratic challenger Jack Trammell, another professor at Randolph-Macon in Ashland, in the battle for Virginia's 7th District.
Brat's remarks on Fox News following his primary victory echoed another passage he wrote in the 2011 paper.
“God asked the people of Israel: Are you sure you want a king? That is a good question to ask at this time,” Brat wrote in 2011. “The church needs to regain its voice and offer up a coherent social vision of justice and rationality. Soon. The Bible and then Calvin is a good start. Rule of Law is in the middle. Capitalism will be in the final chapters.”
In the same paper, he framed the current political landscape as one where Republicans “enforce morality,” and Democrats “coerce others” to fund social programs.
“Can Christians force others to follow their ethical teachings on social issues? Note that consistency is lacking on all sides of this issue. The political Right likes to champion individual rights and individual liberty, but it has also worked to enforce morality in relation to abortion, gambling, and homosexuality,” Brat wrote.
“The Left likes to think of itself as the bulwark of progressive liberal individualism, and yet it seeks to progressively coerce others to fund every social program under the sun via majority rule. Houston, we have a problem. Coercion is on the rise.”
Brat praised institutions as a force of economic good, particularly religious institutions, according to a 2004 paper he authored that was published in the Virginia Economic Journal.
“Institutions such as religion, democracy and government anti-diversion policies all significantly enhance a country's long-run economic performance,” Brat wrote in 2004. “The religion variable may be the strongest ex ante, exogenous institutional variable in the literature.”
Brat wrote that “a real test for liberal Christian types is whether they will reach out to capitalists.”
“If we are ever going to be transformers of culture, we need to get our story straight on capitalism and faith,” Brat wrote in 2011. "The two can go together and they had better go together, or we will not transform anything.”