NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, October 14th, 2023

Republicans remain paralyzed and speaker-less over a week after McCarthy’s ouster

The tur­moil of House Repub­li­cans, divid­ed by fac­tions and feuds, shows a par­ty unable to gov­ern at a time when America’s com­mit­ments are vital­ly need­ed abroad while at home, anoth­er gov­ern­ment shut­down looms in just five weeks.

While Israel’s Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu and arch-rival Ben­ny Gantz have formed a wartime uni­ty gov­ern­ment, as did the Unit­ed States when Franklin Roo­sevelt invit­ed Repub­li­can lumi­nar­ies to take top posts, Repub­li­cans in the “peo­ples House” can­not even pick a Speak­er from their own ranks.

They are the con­fir­ma­tion of an axiom made famous by Sam Ray­burn and LBJ: “Any fool can kick a barn down. But it takes a real car­pen­ter to build one.”

A few ultra MAGA rep­re­sen­ta­tives suc­cess­ful­ly deposed House Speak­er Kevin McCarthy for dar­ing to agree on a con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion that kept the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment going for less than two months. The cau­cus then failed to sup­port Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve Scalise as his suc­ces­sor, even though the Louisiana Repub­li­can once described him­self as “David Duke with­out the bag­gage.”) (Duke is a for­mer Impe­r­i­al Wiz­ard of the Ku Klux Klan.)

The Trump wor­ship­pers’ can­di­date is Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jim Jor­dan, the screechy chair of a com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing impeach­ment of Pres­i­dent Biden. “The peo­ple want Jim Jor­dan,” mes­saged deposed Fox Busi­ness host Lou Dobbs. Sen­a­tor Ted Cruz, R‑Texas, opined: “My phi­los­o­phy in polit­i­cal endorse­ments is to sup­port the strongest con­ser­v­a­tive who can win. That is Jim Jordan.”

As stal­wart con­ser­v­a­tive Liz Cheney (once a mem­ber of House Repub­li­can lead­er­ship) point­ed out, how­ev­er: “Jim Jor­dan was involved in Trump’s con­spir­a­cy to steal the elec­tion and seize pow­er. He urged Pence to refuse to count law­ful elec­toral votes… They’ll lose the House major­i­ty and deserve to.”

Jor­dan, a Free­dom Cau­cus founder and fix­ture on right-wing media, was nom­i­nat­ed for Speak­er by the House Repub­li­can Cau­cus late on Fri­day afternoon.

Pro­gres­sives might cheer the prospect, except that they are a key com­po­nent in keep­ing the coun­try togeth­er, and the gov­ern­ment func­tion­al, while the Repub­li­can Par­ty comes apart. With the dan­ger of anoth­er Trump can­di­da­cy loom­ing, we must focus at least some of the country’s atten­tion on jobs being cre­at­ed and goals achieved thanks to the infra­struc­ture pack­age, the CHIPS and Sci­ence Act and the Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act. Heck, the North­west has just been picked as one of sev­en nation­wide hubs for clean hydrogen.

Still, the Repub­li­cans are a spec­ta­cle. The mono­lith­ic right-wing media is even fray­ing. Ex-House Speak­er Newt Gin­grich has demand­ed on FNC that Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Matt Gaetz (who kicked the barn down and insti­gat­ed McCarthy’s removal), be thrown out of the Repub­li­can Caucus.

Talk show host Mark Levin depicts Gaetz as a trai­tor “work­ing with the Marx­ists in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty.” Mean­time, FNC host Lau­ra Ingra­ham host­ed Gaetz the night of McCarthy’s ouster and cheered him on with encour­ag­ing com­ments such as “Gaetz was bril­liant in tak­ing out McCarthy. Genius!”

The Repub­li­can implo­sion is root­ed in sev­er­al fac­tors. The first is right wing media, start­ing with Rush Lim­baugh in the ear­ly Clin­ton years, fol­lowed by Fox News in the late 1990s and a pro­lif­er­a­tion of mini-Limbaughs.

What fol­lowed was a diver­gence that con­tin­ues to this day. When hand­ed majori­ties, some par­ty estab­lish­ment con­ser­v­a­tives have want­ed to gov­ern, albeit by cut­ting social and envi­ron­men­tal pro­grams to the bone and giv­ing tax breaks to the rich. (They’ve suc­ceed­ed on the lat­ter count.)

To achieve rat­ings, how­ev­er, the talk show host need to keep listeners/viewers mad, and tuned in. Hence, they come down hard on any effort to work out society’s com­pro­mis­es, even when it is to their advan­tage. Right-wing media killed a 2007 immi­gra­tion reform pack­age that passed the Sen­ate by a 68–30 vote.

The Repub­li­can lead­er­ship used to use mon­ey as a cud­gel in enforc­ing obe­di­ence. It could be with­held as pun­ish­ment. Con­trol the mon­ey and you could con­trol the mem­bers, as demon­strat­ed by Sen­ate Repub­li­can Leader Mitch McConnell.

The rise of right-wing media, and 247 news cycles, have allowed Con­gress’ emp­ty drums to bang loud­ly. The Inter­net has helped. Fundrais­ing let­ters used to require vol­un­teers. Staff would be pressed into fundrais­ing par­ties over stale piz­za. Nowa­days, all you have to do is push a fin­ger and send out an email.

Mak­ing noise has become a key to cam­paign bucks. Look at the mil­lions raised by con­spir­a­cy pro­mot­er Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene in Geor­gia, or the bankrolling of failed fas­cist House hope­ful Joe Kent (who’s run­ning again) in this state.

Dur­ing debate over McCarthy’s ouster, col­leagues bit­ter­ly com­plained that Gaetz and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Nan­cy Mace, R‑South Car­oli­na, were send­ing out a bliz­zard of fundrais­ing appeals quot­ing their rhetoric on the House floor.

The Repub­li­can base has also been rad­i­cal­ized. They’ve raged at social change, which con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics has not stopped. The Equal Rights Amend­ment was blocked, but there are now twen­ty-three female sen­a­tors and three female jus­tices on the Supreme Court. Mar­riage equal­i­ty has become the law of the land, and with over­whelm­ing sup­port from mil­len­ni­als and Gen­er­a­tion Z.

If you want to wit­ness the anger, buy a tick­et to the Sno­homish Coun­ty Repub­li­cans’ Lin­coln Day Din­ner or watch the speak­ers being brought in to address King Coun­ty Repub­li­cans. Cov­er­ing the 2012 race for Gov­er­nor, I repeat­ed­ly watched Repub­li­can Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rob McKen­na be forced to serve as warmup speak­er while a radio talk show host was the headliner.

Of course, Trump fans the flames of this right-wing rad­i­cal­ism, with his con­spir­a­cy charges and his coup attempt, as well as rhetoric that is increas­ing­ly vio­lent. He hauls in mil­lions, even using fundrais­ing blasts to deliv­er threats to those who don’t pony up.

Biden’s defeat­ed pre­de­ces­sor has talked about charg­ing MSNBC with “trea­son,” like­wise just retired Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair­man Gen­er­al Mark Mil­ley. At his civ­il tri­al for busi­ness fraud, he has called New York Attor­ney Gen­er­al Leti­tia James a “polit­i­cal ani­mal,” Judge Arthur Engoron a “rogue,” and slan­dered the judge’s law clerk by false­ly describ­ing her as Sen­a­tor Chuck Schumer’s “girl­friend.”

Kevin McCarthy tried cease­less pan­der­ing, start­ing with his trip to Mar-a-Lago days after the Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021 insur­rec­tion at the U.S. Capitol.

Mil­i­tant extrem­ists were giv­en seats on the House Rules Com­mit­tee. Jim Jor­dan was giv­en an impeach­ment plat­form. Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Schiff was thrown off the House Intel­li­gence Committee.

All to no avail.

The spec­ta­cle in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., should not turn off rea­son­able peo­ple to pol­i­tics. Quite the con­trary. They should engage and reen­gage. Attempts to hijack the coun­try have been turned back before by decent peo­ple, wit­ness the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and McCarthy­ism in the 1950s.

We have a Repub­lic to preserve.

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