From the outside looking in, the political jockeying for Speaker of the House has made for somewhat good political theatre. Even if mostly scuttlebutt, a favorite pastime in these parts, it is entertaining and amusing at the same time. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pulling out of the race, frankly, was anticlimactic. I expected something outrageous, yet it turned out to be nothing more than political white flag. McCarthy’s maneuver, as boring as it it, is chock full of reminders for seasoned and recreational political watchers alike.
First, just like a month can be a light year in politics, political fortunes can change at the twinkling of an eye. That is the nature of the business. When you really think about it, how could it be any other way? Our Founding Fathers devised an ingenious system to channel political energy and power. Albeit imperfect, it affords us the way and the means to resolve conflict, advance product and, even at times, improve the republic. Where we use words, in other nations they come to physical blows or worse.
Sudden changes are to be expected. The system can absorb them without any major negative consequences to institution. Individual fortunes come and go, but the institution continues. For some political watchers and talking heads, McCarthy’s seemingly abrupt exit from the Speaker’s race, Rep. Eric Cantor’s defeat in Virginia, and Speaker Boehner’s resignation, are signals to the establishment that the people who elected Members of Congress want change and they want it now. Business as usual such as canned talking points, the platitudes, excuse-making about votes counts, etc., will no longer cut it. Maybe. We should know more that day after November 8, 2016.
The second take away from McCarthy’s stage left from the Speaker’s race is that no matter what the punditocracy says, only a handful of people in this town know the truth about any given issue or event at any given time. So we’re left with the guessing game. The media may have legions of sources, but even a source is usually only as good as the last time you spoke with them. Compared to prior GOP conference scrums, the leaks seem to have been kept to a minimum; however, the strategic communications operation was weak. The rumor mill was, and remains, out of control. The communications experts were not doing their job and, if they were, very poorly. Makes me wonder who the adult happens to be these days in those parts.
Finally and most importantly, another nuggets we can extract from all of this is that world is not going to come to an end. Relax. Stay calm. As I mentioned earlier in this post, the Founders left us a good system with many redundancies. Moreover, the GOP Conference is not in a civil war, nor is the Republican Party. That is lore of the gloom and doom brigade, especially the Left that would like nothing more than to see the conservative movement implode. There are legions on the right and the left in this town who make a living off spinning political crises, real and not so real. Are there issues to resolve in the GOP familia? Of course, that is the nature of politics. Again, that is the nature of the system.
The more debate the better, even among Republicans. Listening would be good as well, something that a large chunk of the GOP conference is demanding, and the leadership should afford conservatives a great deal more time at committee and on the floor to air out issues. If they fail to move legislation, well, that may be good as well. Who says that a Congress needs to move bipartisan product in order to be successful? Successful, according to who? The establishment? The Left? I think the nation wants to move center-right, and the GOP base surely wants it. It’s time to start laying the political foundations to make it so. Compromising with Nancy Pelosi is not going to get us there.
While it may seem that the Democrats are benefiting from all this, the reality is that the Left is in deep political trouble in 2016. The nation, fed up with the socialist experimentation of the last few years, wants real change. The Democrats know very well the dire nature of their political predicament. The Democrats will likely lose the White House and Republicans will add seats to their majorities in the House and Senate. That, my friends, is a good thing, no matter who becomes Speaker of the House. But the GOP needs to start fighting for its base or it risks political catastrophe in 2016. Granted with a looming budget battle and recalcitrant President willing to go out with a bang, it will not be easy.
We need strong ideas and passionate leaders willing to advance them at every possible opportunity that serving in Congress affords. There should be Congressional oversight hearings and investigations every week Congress is in session. Field hearings. Press conferences. Rather than create select committees, such as the one for the Planned Parenthood scandal, they should use existing Committees to conduct the investigations. Just as the electorate is throwing a few curve balls on the presidential primary, it may be doing the same with respect to Congress. The GOP Conference needs to do a little more than issue press releases and keeping the government open, it needs to move product. We need leaders willing to fight and unite. Those without the stomach for it, well, may need to find those that can make it so.