We are living in the ends days. Any day now, CNN will be broadcasting their final video, the US Army Forces Command Band performing Nearer My God To Thee. Why? Because California Congressman Kevin McCarthy will not be the next Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
What? Too overwrought? Possibly. (Though the claim that the Kardashians are America’s First Family does lend some credence to End Times Theory). But the mainstream media doesn’t. The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty declares, “Less than a year after a sweeping electoral triumph, Republicans are on the verge of ceasing to function as a national political party.” As a former Defense Secretary might say, goodness gracious granny me. Who would have thought that Kevin McCarthy was the glue that held the Republic together?
Meanwhile, for those of us watching from outside the Beltway, this doesn’t seem to have that much importance. And among grassroots Republicans, there seems to be some relief. It’s a sign that maybe their voices are being heard. The grassroots have long complained that the Republicans running the party, i.e. The Establishment, didn’t listen, didn’t care what the little people wanted. The Establishment liked being in power and was prepared to get along and go along to stay in power. Since 2010, a new breed of Republican has arrived: one that wants to stand on principle. These Republicans are tired of the excuses as to why their agenda is not being pushed.
Since Barack Obama has become President, the Republicans have gained 69 seats in the House, control of the US Senate and 31 governorships and almost as many legislatures. This isn’t exactly the trajectory of a party in decline. What has declined has been the control the Establishment has over these Republicans. Since the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, the ability of the Establishment to punish upstarts by withholding campaign funds has withered. The national parties can no longer dictate to the members. Increasingly, it is the members who are dictating. And these Republicans are angry. From 2011 until 2014, they were told there was no point in pressing their agenda because they didn’t control the Senate. When the US Senate is led by the Republicans, things will change.
But it hasn’t. How many times have the Republicans forced unpleasant votes on the Democrats since January 3, 2015? Even if you don’t agree with what some of the Republicans want to do, why shouldn’t they have the chance to vote? Even the successes the Party has had, especially the Sequestration Caps and the defunding of the Import/Export Bank, are continually under fire from the Establishment. Think about it, two times where the GOP has successfully cut government spending are being undermined by the party itself. If you’re the party who claims to support smaller government, why do you keep trying to increase the size of government?
Rank and File Republicans have every right to be angry and upset. They believe they are the base of the party and they should be the ones the leaders listen to, not the Chamber of Commerce and the Crony Capitalists. And for those who have been elected since 2010 seeking to end Crony Capitalism, they have made it clear that the old status quo is no more. They want the party to stand up for what it believes and be prepared to fight for their ideals. Boehner never seemed to want to do that. McCarthy was cut from the same cloth. His gaffe regarding the Benghazi Committee was reflective of that. Boehner & Co. never wanted that Committee. They didn’t care and couldn’t understand why their base did. Many of the post 2010 Republicans had seemingly been willing to hold their collective nose and vote for him until that statement. Then it became clear that McCarthy was just Boehner lite. The Establishment wanted him because of that and was trying to arrange his coronation. The base didn’t want a coronation, it wanted someone who will fight for them. The Republican base wants change. Real Change, not Rearranging-the-chairs-on-the- Titanic change. The Establishment wants someone who will play ball. They were prepared to cut a deal with the Democrats to make sure McCarthy got the 218 votes if the Freedom Caucus refused to back him. The Establishment does not want work with the rank and file. How else to explain why McCarthy made no attempt to negotiate with the Freedom Caucus, even knowing that they might back him during a floor vote.
With McCarthy out of the way, the Republican Party now has a golden opportunity to decide what it believes and for what it is prepared to fight. By the time the Speaker’s election is held on October 29th, there will be a single candidate that will lead a unified front. And that Speaker will be someone who will be prepared to fight for the conservative ideals that the base wants. The go along, get along ethos of the McConnell and Boehner will be replaced by the Cruz and Chaffetz confrontational style. Will this succeed? Who knows. But what is important is this is what the rank and file want.
A Christian Sect had announced that World was going to end this week. It didn’t, but for the Establishment Republicans, it must certainly feel that way.