[Make sure to read Daniel Greenfield’s contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
When Democrats are in the majority, they get their way. And when Republicans are in the majority, the Democrats also get their way. Most recently, after the stopgap spending bill was passed, Rep Jamie Raskin took to MSNBC to boast that the Democrats “got the vast majority of what we wanted” from it. And for some Republicans that was the last straw.
Eight House Republicans allied with Democrats on a vote to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy. And for the first time in over a century, a House Speaker was successfully booted from office.
A civil war among Republicans came down to threats from both sides of collaborating with Democrats in a House of Representatives with a narrow majority. And collaborating with Democrats seems to be the only thing that House Republicans know how to do anymore.
What are the legislative achievements of a House GOP majority, today, yesterday and the day before? They invariably involve collaborating with Democrats for personal political gain.
It’s been over a generation since a House Republican majority delivered for conservatives. Congressional Republicans are too terrified to fight Democrats and instead go after safe targets like each other. It’s not even worth counting how many times a Democrat White House made a House Republican majority cower in fear over the threat of being blamed for a government shutdown. Or how often that same majority compensated for surrendering to Democrats with meaningless virtue signaling votes that everyone knew were never going to pass the Senate.
Why are Democrats able to effectively wield their House majority while Republicans couldn’t? The Democrats are not afraid of what Republicans think of them. They develop a plan, implement it and dismiss Republican efforts to stop them. Republicans however care a great deal about what Democrats, in the House, in the media and the culture, think of them.
When Republicans threaten to blame Democrats for something, they laugh it off. Democrats backed the mobs that burned cities to the ground and opened the border to an unprecedented mass invasion without worrying what the Republicans would say. But Republicans live in fear of being blamed for a government shutdown. Rather than risk being blamed for shutting down the country, they shut down their own agenda, and then formed circular firing squads.
House Republican majorities do very little because they want to avoid taking responsibility for anything. When there is a Republican Senate majority or a Republican White House, they defer to them. And when there isn’t, they defer to the Democrats. The pattern is that the House Republican leadership wants someone else to take on their responsibilities.
Congress increasingly doesn’t legislate, it rubber stamps, and the House GOP leadership has been among the worst offenders. But the situation isn’t likely to improve under any speaker. The GOP leadership has concentrated legislative power in the hands of small men like Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Paul Ryan who haven’t the faintest idea of what to do with it except to prevent things from being done that might upset the status quo too much. Weak speakers are fall guys whose only job is to last long enough to deliver some stability for special interests.
The 118th Congress has been marked by weak and abusive leadership, and by mistrust and backstabbing among House Republicans. Short on ideological vision, it has no shortage of flamboyant members looking for ways to get ahead by becoming celebrities and undermining each other. None of this has accomplished anything for the country, only for themselves.
The Democrats have personal and ideological agendas, while the Republicans have only personal agendas. While the Democrats make money, become famous and get results, Republicans just make money and get famous before crashing and burning a few years in.
That is why Democrats keep getting the upper hand in negotiations whether they’re in the majority or in the minority. As awful as they may be, they’re not just out for themselves.
Republicans keep explaining that they have to work with Democrats since they have a narrow majority in a two-party system. But the problem isn’t that they negotiate with Democrats, it’s that they’re so bad at it. Every time Republicans work with Democrats, it’s the latter who have the leverage. And now, even when it comes to the House speakership under a GOP majority, the Dems ended up with an unprecedented degree of leverage over any Republican speaker.
The House GOP’s legacy of letting Democrats have the leverage now means total leverage.
Under Democrats, the speakership was a powerful position, while under Republicans it’s become a thankless job offering power without purpose in a deeply divided party.
And that is the real crisis.
What is the purpose of a GOP House majority? What is it there to accomplish? When all the hysterical fundraising emails, texts and carrier pigeons have been sent, what does it do?
Republicans campaign like insurgents, but they govern like placeholders. All the insurgent energy is completely lacking once the business of cutting 30 second ads gives way to the dry tasks of scheduling the votes that the leadership wants on the money that it wants to give away.
GOP leaders talk about the business of government as if its institutions exist purely for their own sake. That is not how Democrats, especially the growing leftist insurgency, sees matters. And it is not how Democrats govern. Rep. Nancy Pelosi did not treat the legislative majority that she had spent so much time and effort fundraising for as a mere non-ideological institution, and yet apart from the ritualistic virtue signaling, that is how House GOP majorities do things.
And it’s mostly how they have done things.
The Gingrich revolution briefly shook things up by giving the House GOP majority an agenda and an identity. And while the results were a long way from perfect, the branding gave the body some sense of purpose. Since then, House GOP majorities have no such mission. The leadership has tightened the screws leading to more resentment and no meaningful results.
The GOP has spent a long time treating its voters as if they were idiots, but they’re far from it. The average small dollar donor may not spend a lot of time delving into the ins and outs of legislative procedure, but understands perfectly well that he keeps investing time, energy and money with little to show for it except more fundraising letters, excuses and drama.
Conservatives are angry. And rightly so. They’ve been funding a revolution and getting a continuing resolution. The mismatch between rhetoric and results can only go on for so long. But the only thing a civil war does is hand more power and leverage to the Democrats.
The House Republican mission is not the business of government, but the business of revolution. The Democrats see that as their mission and it’s time that Republicans did too. That will take a wartime party, not peacetime managers. A true wartime party does not collaborate with the enemy. It builds a united front and sets out to win without fearing the other side.
A party like that requires strong leaders who know what is at stake: not hollow men and grifters.
The House GOP doesn’t have a speaker because it doesn’t have a mission. And without a mission, it’s only a matter of time until every session falls apart into self-serving drama. Either the House GOP will find its mission or it will continue to waste time that America doesn’t have.
Either Republicans will find their mission or they will lose.