Eric Cantor, morality and the politics of Joplin

You’d never know it to hear House Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), tell it, but the town of Joplin, Missouri, is a GOP stronghold. NPR called it “the reddest corner of Missouri,” back  before the election in 2008, and the final returns from Joplin/Jasper County from the vote that year bears that out.

According to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, McCain-Palin beat Obama-Biden 66% to 33%, in that little part of the Show Me State. It re-elected Republican Roy Blunt to the House that year by an even wider margin of almost 3-to-1, and in 2010 sent him back to Washington, this time as a US Senator, by a similar spread.

Joplin May 2011 tornado
Joplin, MO – May, 2011 tornado damage – aerial view (Creative Commons)

So why would Cantor want to hang up rushing financial aid to this bastion of Republican redness, devastated by a tornado last week? Either: a) he takes their loyalty to the party for granted; b) he’s trying to appeal to the kitchen table sensibilities of Midwesterners with his analogy of a struggling family having to redirect $10,000 saved for a car (“families don’t have unlimited money” and, “Neither does the federal government,” he said Sunday, on CBS’ Face the Nation); or c) he’s making a political play for the Tea Party Libertarians who think the government should pay for almost nothing.

One can only ask, as Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) did, in a report by the Huffington Post, Thursday, “Where is his [Cantor’s] compassion for people who are suffering today?”

More on Joplin, Tornadoes
and FEMA
In Tornado Aftermath, What Residents
of Moore Can Learn From Joplin –
22 May, 2013 (
After the Storm: How Joplin, Missouri,
rebuilt following a devastating tornado
by circumventing bureaucracy –
Aug/Sep, 2012 (
Joplin, MO, 2011 Tornado Fact Sheet –
22 May, 2013 (
Curse or coincidence? Scientists study
Tornado Alley’s past and future –
24 May, 2013 (
Tornado Alley Live [Interactive] –
[VIDEO] FEMA Response to
Oklahoma Tornadoes –

22 May, 2013 (
FEMA puts boots on ground for Oklahoma
tornado response –
21 May, 2013

Cantor’s ploy is putting politics ahead of a necessary, moral compassion for the working class people in Joplin. But to those folks in Missouri, the country’s money problems may not mean as much as what’s morally the right thing to do. As conservative Joplinite, donut maker Dude Pendergraft, who told NPR in 2008 he was planning on voting for McCain, said, “The country can go broke, and those things still – those morals still stand if you, if you’ve got a moral country, God will be with you.”


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