A Few Observations on the Speaker Vote
It took 15 ballots for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to achieve his life’s ambition – to become Speaker of the House of Representatives. If media reports are accurate, it is the second-highest number of ballots in American history – second only to the two-month-long 133 ballots in 1856.
The predominant media narrative was that it was “chaotic.” Others used words like “disaster,” … “dysfunctional,” … “embarrassing.” Democrats on the other side of the aisle used the occasion to malign the GOP as a party in “disarray.” They predicted that nothing could get done because Republicans were incapable of governing.
Because of the difficulty in securing the Speaker’s chair, many predicted that McCarthy would be a weak Speaker – some even saying the weakest in American history. (Is that necessarily bad?)
In the broadest of brush strokes, Democrats and their media cronies described the prolonged process as a failure of democracy. They lamented that a relatively small group of legislators could prevent a first-round victory for McCarthy. They called it hostage taking … and even another insurrection.
Despite all the hyperbolic Draconian warnings, I not only believe that the prolonged process to elect a speaker will NOT have any impact on the conduct of the legislative process going forward. For sure, the late-night voting was dramatic – and movie-style cliffhanger. When folks talk about the elections of House Speakers, this one will be notable – but how often do we speak about past House Speaker elections? That is about how often we will speak about this one. It is one of those tempests in a teapot.
The Face of Autocracy
The person who best personified the idea that the 20 holdout Republicans were anti-democratic was “Morning Joe” professor/panelist Eddie Glaude. He found it inconceivable that a small group of legislators could hold up the work of Congress by not giving their votes to the establishment’s anointed one. They are operating as authoritarians, he proclaimed.
Glaude argued that what we witnessed was an assault on the American democracy. Of course, Glaude is a left-wing autocrat – as are most hardcore left-wingers. He favors consolidating power in a federal government run by and elite (left-wing) establishment. He admires the “strong leadership” of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the lockstep dogmatic votes of the Democrat House Caucus. That is what he calls “democracy”.
Glaude is not alone in his view. That was the narrative all over the left-wing media echo chamber. Submission to powerful leadership is democracy and expression of opposition is autocracy. If you find Glaude’s ass-backwards logic compelling, your DNA is missing its democracy gene.
The Face of Democracy
Every American should be thankful for whatever concessions the 20 holdouts gained. America will be better for it. Weakening the Speaker’s power is a good thing. The reforms they got are mostly good democratic principles – such as allowing amendments to bills on the floor … preventing the Speaker from unilaterally preventing legislation from being voted on … diversity of political opinions on the most important committees … having the budget voted on by category instead of one humongous so-called “omnibus” bill … and that bills cannot be voted in less than 72 hours after they are given to the members, allowing time to read them … congressional oversight of intelligence and law enforcement functions (and other agencies).
One issue that the left claims will cripple McCarthy’s leadership is the provision that one member can move to “vacate the chair” – and if passed, the Speaker can be removed. It would still require a vote of the entire House to remove the speaker — and it only changes the number from 3 to 1 member compelling a vote.
What the holdouts were asking for was a return to “regular order—for the house to operate in a more democratic fashion as it was intended to do by the Founders. That was the way it worked for most of American history – until the political left (Democrats and Republicans) eroded the democratic features in favor of a concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands.
McCarthy Deserves the Job 90 percent of Republican Members Support Him
By way of disclosure, those who have read my past commentaries know that I was opposed to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s elevation to speaker. I opined that he lacked charisma and strategic skills to be effective in that role. Any doubt of his ineffectiveness should be dismissed by the situation in which he found himself – need 15 ballots. But that is a moot point now. He is the Speaker.
And as far as the claim that he had 90 percent of the vote needed to be elected Speaker, the truth is that ALL members vote – and McCarthy had only 46 percent of the necessary vote in the initial ballots.
And that raises an interesting point. We all heard the hyperbolic claims that the lack of an operating Congress is a disaster. It undermines our nation’s security. It fails to serve the critical needs of the people. Oh … the calamity of it all. If it was the disaster and eminent danger for the nation, why didn’t democrats end it – save the nation from their alarm? Just one Democrat – fearing for the fate of the Republic – could have crossed over and ended the problem. But noooo. They preferred to let their described threat to America continue unabated – because they either put party ahead of the nation or they knew their clams were nothing by bovine byproduct.
A More Chaotic House
Democrats maybe be correct that things may not operate as smoothly as they have in the past when all the power rested in the dear leader. We see examples of well-oiled legislative machinery in other nations. There is no disruption or chaos in the legislatures of … Russia … China … North Korea …Iran. … Cuba. Those are the models the American left seems to prefer – strong leadership and compliant members. That is not the model small-d democrats (conservatives) prefer.
The prolonged election of the Speaker was not a crisis. It was not a disaster. And if it was chaos … it was good chaos (to paraphrase the late Congressman John Lewis).
So, there ‘tis.