On Tuesday this week, had been expected to easily win re-election to an eighth term in Virginia especially given that he had raised more than $5.4 million compared with only $200,000 raised by his little-known challenger, David Brat.
After losing by such a big margin of 12 percent, the Republican Party members are in shock wondering why the majority leader could suffer such a humiliating defeat to such a political lightweight. With nearly all of the votes counted by the time we went to the press, Brat had 56 percent of the vote to Cantor’s 44 percent. Cantor won Virginia district primary with 79 percent support in 2012.
The New York Times reported how the news of Cantor’s defeat hit Republicans in Washington hard Tuesday evening: “I have to say I don’t know of anyone who expected this,” said a plugged-in conservative insider who requested anonymity to speak openly. “The shock among people who are supposed to know that world is like nothing I’ve seen.”
So what indeed could have led to the historic defeat? Apparently according to Brat, “the American people want to pay attention to serious ideas again, and we need to get away from cheap political rhetoric of right and left.” He added that his candidacy had resonated with voters who believed that politics had been dumbed down by partisan infighting.
Brat, a supposedly political novice, accused Cantor of not listening to the electorate, not paying attention to the issues that matter to the people he is supposed to represent, and spending most of his time trying ‘to run for Speaker of the House of Representatives while his constituents wanted a congressman’. As if Cantor’s situation couldn’t get worse on Tuesday, he even lost his home county by almost 7 points.
Inside the Republican Party, the conservatives accuse Cantor for being preoccupied with opposing everything President Obama including policies which are bipartisan. The liberal Republicans accuse Cantor for siding with the party radicals who led to government shutdown that led to the suffering of many Americans. But others claim that the Democrats must have voted against Cantor.
Now hardly a day later, campaigns for his replacement have already begun, and their party has broken up into factions. And during the day the Virginia voters were carrying posters reading: ‘Can you hear us now?’
Our interest in this election is the way the same has been happening here inside the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). Today, there is a lot of infighting inside the NRM. The leaders are engaged in fighting for power and leadership. So much so that in the recent by-election in Luwero which the ruling party lost in a usually pro-Movement constituency, it was alleged that some members of the NRM voted against their candidate in favour of the opposition.
Now, when you consider that there is just one year to the next general elections, all political parties in Uganda, and all of them are currently in shambles, need to get more organized if the people and the country have to transform. As it is, we are fair and square in a vicious circle.