House Republicans’ real choice: Kevin McCarthy for speaker or chaos
As Jan. 3 approaches, it is vital for House Republicans to understand their situation.
Because of the narrow majority, a handful of House Republicans saw an opportunity to blackmail the rest of the conference and force their will by refusing to vote for the conference’s choice for speaker.
Eighty-five percent of the House Republican Conference (188-31) voted for Kevin McCarthy over the current leading critic.
Most of the non-McCarthy members (at least 21 of the 31) have already agreed that the majority must rule, and McCarthy is close to having the votes to become speaker on Jan. 3.
However, it only takes five to cause chaos. That would mean five are attempting to coerce 214 other members.
In his first inaugural address in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln warned against the inevitably destructive precedent this behavior sets us.
As Lincoln put it: “If a minority will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which, in turn, will divide and ruin them; for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority.”
This idea that any five members of a narrow majority have the moral right to use their practical power in an attempt to coerce more than 200 of their colleagues is inherently destructive and unsustainable.
The small hardline group needs to find some reasonable requests to allow them to end up supporting the House GOP Conference’s candidate for speaker.
At the same time, Speaker-designate McCarthy and his team must be flexible enough to find a creative solution that brings the rebels back into the fold without infuriating the rest of the House GOP – and creating a different group compelled to flex their five-vote muscles.
There is plenty of opportunity to quiet the current noise and reasonably come together around a few legitimate changes.
Any other outcome is a disaster for the House Republican Party and for the United States.
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