The prevailing narrative regarding Republican infighting over choosing a new House Speaker is that the GOP is a holy mess. Once Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was given the boot, there was a lot of backroom brawling to elect a new leader for the lower chamber with all due haste. It appeared and was announced that the party would be willing to coalesce around Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). However, the hue and cry got louder when that went down in flames: “Why can’t the GOP get its act together and be like those in the Democratic Party?” Republicans did eventually pick another speaker candidate, Ohio’s Jim Jordan, but they’re far from unified behind him.
Here are a few reasons and a bit of analysis as to why the seeming chaos may serve a good purpose. As everyone’s mother used to say, “Comparisons are odious.” This is undoubtedly true when assessing the two major US political parties. They believe and espouse different things and are dissimilar at their core. Painting with a broad brush, one could say the Democrats more often elevate the collective while Republicans place more emphasis on the individual. This is not absolute, but the argument can be made that those who put an R after their name think, act, and respond to situations in a distinctive way.
It’s easy to criticize one side when a food fight is underway, but it’s crucial to remember why the battle was joined in the first place. Many have speculated it was a personal vendetta between Florida’s Matt Gaetz and McCarthy. We cannot know if that is true, but we can look at what Gaetz said regarding why he wanted the California Republican out.
The Florida Republican said he was sick and tired of “continuing resolutions” and felt strongly that the House should be forced to do its job and put together a comprehensive budget as they are obliged to do by law. Speaking on the House floor, Gaetz said:
“A vote for a continuing resolution is a vote to continue the Green New Deal, a vote to continue inflationary spending, and the most troubling of fashions, a vote for a continuing resolution is a vote to continue the election interference of Jack Smith.”
Gaetz and his compatriots sought single-subject spending bills instead of bloated omnibus packages. As Liberty Nation’s Jim Fite clarified, “To them, the way to force both sides of the fiscal and political fence to balance the budget is to only vote for single-subject bills and simply refuse to support anything else, no matter the cost.” Since the US is currently 33 trillion (and counting) in debt, this does seem to be a noble cause.
House Speaker: The Pitfalls of Unity
The national media has primarily aimed its guns at the fight and avoided the reason for it. This type of superficial coverage is their stock and trade. They maintain the Democrats are organized and unified. Well, that can be said of all dictatorships, can’t it? Unity doesn’t necessarily make for good policy; it just means that everyone is willing to go along with others in their group. Viewed another way, this kind of Stepford Wives behavior is unsettling. Why think for yourself when all you need is to do what you are told?
There is a point to be made in favor of holding to one’s principles, even if it means a battle must be joined. Yes, conflict can be chaotic and ugly. The easy thing to do is focus on the battle rather than the reason for the war.
The founders of this American experiment purposely set up a system that is often slow and messy. They constructed several branches of the governance tree for good reason. Efficiency and group think are often enemies of reason and logic. Yes, a republic can be plodding and unweildy – but perhaps that’s as it should be.