I am spending three days in DC for some presentations on carbon tax issues. It was interesting to see the disparate reactions to the upset of Eric Cantor, among my acquaintances who live and breathe politics out here. The younger crowd was fired up at the toppling of the much better funded and establishment-backed Cantor. On the other hand, I talked with others who were aghast at how the radicals in the Tea Party would now be able to scare even those career Republicans who retain their seats and thereby make it harder to govern responsibly.
The lesson I take away from this episode is the point Mises often made: Even though the State may often seem incredibly powerful, it ultimately rests on the consent of the governed. If you doubt this statement, consider: In totalitarian regimes, the man on top is ruthless in his control of the media and educational system. If somebody puts up graffiti challenging the regime, it gets taken down immediately. This shows that even the worst despots recognize the importance of public opinion.