This blogger has memories of various “off-elections” (ones held every other year that only elect Congress, and in Hawaii’s case, its Governor) since at least 2006. Back in that year, when I saw some political friends on the night of the election, I remember them being excited that the Republicans could potentially take back both the House and the Senate with a slight majority.
In those discussions, I remember thinking “Well if the Republican Party takes over either or both houses, they will be unified on their message and focused on their legislative goals”. In other words, once they got in, and got organized, it would be off to the races, never mind what the Democrats wanted.
After all, the thinking was that if the Democrats were in the majority, they would and could care less what the Republicans wanted.
THERE WAS NEVER A THOUGHT that either party would split along gaping fractures of philosophy and political direction to the point where one side, or faction, would throw the whole body into limbo by overtly harassing the Senate Majority Leader or the House Speaker, to the point where a faction in the majority party would throw the speaker out.
But that was back in 2006. Today the political atmosphere, geography, and direction are drastically different.
We start noting the difference by the fact that Kevin McCarthy, a House member from California, in his quest to become Speaker of the House, had to agree to the terms and conditions of the most radical part of the House Caucus just to get the job of Speaker. Being that one member, from either party, at any time could declare the Chair vacant, and then hold a vote to throw them out was asinine to agree to.
But McCarthy did, and then he let history write the legend of how, even with doing everything the extreme parties wanted (cuts in the budget, impeachment of Biden), they were not settled enough and so threw him out.
Back in 2006, anyone suggesting that the Republican party, outside of the small skirmishes on ideas, would fracture to the point of throwing one of their own out of leadership, was absurd on its face.
Then, with the vacancy, the majority party has tried twice to find a suitable candidate to replace the now-deposed Chair. The first was Steve Scalice, the Majority Leader in the House and the natural choice to choose to occupy the chair. And even with the majority of the House Republican Caucus voting for him, he could not get enough to get 217 votes in the Republican Caucus to vote for him.
The caucus went back again, and this time the name that came out was Jim Jordan, a House member from Ohio. But even then, he must figure out how to get about 50 members of the caucus to agree to vote for him when he is seen as radical as the rightists that both straight-jacketed and then threw McCarthy out of being Chair.
The noise in Twitterland (otherwise known as ‘X’) is either “you rally around Jim now or you are not a patriotic American” or “you’d be crazy to give this guy the keys to the castle, he will just burn it down”.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side of the House, they are all unified around Hakeem Jeffries from New York, the Minority Leader in the House. The Democrats, in this case, have been staunchly united around their focus and wants.
In other words, they do not seem to be much in a mood to make a deal with moderate Republicans and do not very much care about having a coalition government when they are still smarting over Republican actions against them.
THE US NOW faces a situation similar to parliamentary countries when it comes to choosing leaders. As seen in Israel and England, a slim majority often requires forming alliances with other factions or parties to establish a stable government.
Does this mean that the United States, as some political pundits have suggested, is now the laughingstock of the world because we cannot seem to have a government that operates or works? I would kindly suggest that those pundits look at other parliamentary governments that took a long time to form in Belgium in 2010, or Cambodia, which took 354 days to form a government in 2003-2004.
It’s important to note that the situation we’re in is not unique to our country. If we’re feeling embarrassed about it, we should know that other countries have gone through similar struggles. However, we should be more concerned with whether there will be a serious discussion about our government and whether it needs to change in light of recent events. The eight Republican caucus members who voted to vacate the chair should carefully consider their next moves. They should prioritize restoring confidence in our government, as opposed to causing further fractures that could lead to full-blown schisms and break down the legislative branch of our federal government.