On Monday, October 25th, a Louisa County, Virginia, voter and Democrat named Jon Taylor showed up with some members of his family to a local Louisa coffee shop, Solid Grounds, to attend an Eric Cantor campaign event (see event invite below). Eric Cantor is his congressional representative (VA-07) and he and some friends of his had RSVPed for the event.
They wanted to talk with their congressional representative about his campaign and about his policies. They ordered their coffee and sat down. The police came in once and asked Mr. Taylor to move his car, which was adorned with campaign material of Cantor's Democratic opponent Rick Waugh, from a metered public parking spot. Mr. Taylor produced his receipt. The officers left and returned later, and a combination of the police, the coffee shop owner, and Cantor's advance man asked him to leave. Jon Taylor ended up out on the street being roughly slammed against a car and then to the ground by three policeman as they arrested him and charged him with trespassing, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. The officers charged some of the other Dems there similarly.
There are a few different versions of what happened. There's Jon's account, on the blog Blue Virginia. There's an eyewitness account, also on Blue Virginia, by Lewalta Haney. There's coverage on MSNBC's The Ed Show. There's a sad excuse for a story about it in The Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Daily Kos features a bit from all of these, including the video Jon Taylor's son took of his father's arrest. Eric Cantor's campaign declared that, "this was a clear attempt [by Taylor] to disrupt the meeting. The voters of Virginia are going to reject this thuggery." When I called Cantor's campaign office--he is also my congressional representative--to voice my discontent about this incident, I was essentially told the same thing by the woman I spoke with.
Now, I'm sure these folks weren't there to give Eric Cantor a Progressive Representative of the Year Award, but this is how the democratic process in a representative democracy works. You decide to run for office, you get some signatures to get on the ballot, you debate your opponents, and you go around and talk to the voters that you're going to represent. You talk to them, you answer their questions, and then they decide who to vote for.
At this point, although I don't agree with it, I am not asking Eric Cantor to change his philosophy of government. I accept we have different views. I am asking him to honor the democratic process that he agreed to be a part of when he decided to run for office. Even though he is morally reprehensible and even though he is owned by corporations, until yesterday I still had faith that he believed in at least a tepid democracy and that he would uphold the democratic process. That he would say, even if they don't agree with me, my constituents are allowed to hear what I have to say about where I stand and they are allowed to ask me questions; I work for them. Even Eric Cantor, I thought, has some small amount of respect for the democratic process.
Eric Cantor is supposed to a leader in our democracy but Eric Cantor is a traitor and a threat to American democracy. Eric Cantor is a coward. Eric Cantor is a tyrant. I weep for any citizen who would hand over their voice in our national legislature to someone who would so denigrate democracy's basic tenets. But most of all, I weep for the democracy that Eric Cantor would see destroyed.