The founding statement of this website was, in part, wanting to serve as a counterbalance to the extreme wings of both parties.
The past week shows why this is so urgently needed when it comes to the Republican party.
No matter how you look at it, a minority of people decided to stop a third branch of government due to in equal parts personal animus—the speech Rep. Matt Gaetz on Friday gave in nominating Rep. Jim Jordan showed that—and a style of government that empowers extremists versus the overwhelmingly will of the people.
There is a through line for the anti-McCarthy crowd starting with the Tea Party to the House Freedom Caucus to MAGA Republicans and Donald Trump to Jan. 6. It is one that is at its core anti-government and does not believe in democracy.
In the end, Kevin McCarthy outwaited and negotiated his way to Speaker of the House. But at what cost? The rules of the House, which was what the intra-party fight centered on, are changed in a way that establishes the chaos we saw the road ahead to be repeated for the 118th Congress.
But our biggest concern is not their legislative agenda—Republicans are in the majority, they get to prioritize what they see as their mandate from their voters and we believe in two healthy political parties—but in their ability to govern. Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Mikie Sherrill rightly raised that issue, both wanting to pass legislation that continues to help the American people as happened in the last Congress.
But they, along with the rest of their caucasus, know there are scenarios that just one far right lawmaker will be able to stop progress with a Motion to Vacate the Speaker at any moment. It’s a rollback of a Problem Solvers Caucus rule co-chair Gottheimer believes was instrumental in getting the numerous bipartisan legislation passed last year, the most notable being the infrastructure bill.
Make no mistake about it, Speaker McCarthy takes the speaker’s gavel weakened—poetically, the California lawmakers winning in the 15th round of votes reminds us of heavyweight boxers in the 70’s staggered and bloody after their championship fights went the distance. Those boxers were usually never the same again, a fate we believe for any Speaker who upholds the newly negotiated rules.
And that one of the first things McCarthy cited in winning was the effort of Donald Trump—saying that “I don’t think anybody should doubt his influence” on the same day as the anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riot— just makes us shake our heads.
Make no mistake about it, the House leadership will be pushing a MAGA agenda over the next two years that is equal parts looking legislative and score settling. The act of keeping the government running, such as funding bills or financing the federal debt, will result in the same fights that we saw this past week.
The dysfunction of Washington was squarely on the Republicans—their was even a physical altercation on the floor late Friday night—and their refusal to confront the extremists of their party. It is a lesson that all of us should remember over the next two years.