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A number of representatives have criticized Kevin McCarthy, and I think they have good reason not to trust him. He took the House Republican representatives for granted. He ignored their efforts to negotiate. And it appears in some cases that he lied to them. All of these outcomes are a big deal.
At the same time, we have to reflect on our own lives, our relationship to truthfulness, and our ability to forgive and move on. I know that there are people in my own life who have done hurtful things to me or others, and I have chosen not to forgive them. I take betrayal very seriously, and I will always be skeptical, if not cynical, in reviving a relationship with someone who has let me down. I have chosen in some cases to shut them out of my life, although there are very few who have violated our relationship to this degree. Nevertheless, the damage was done and I may have no reason to try to rebuild our connections.
But when it comes to the politics of our country and Kevin McCarthy, we might pause and reflect on the role of trust. If the Republican representatives choose to consider McCarthy making amends in order for them to vote for him as Speaker, they are entitled (from my perspective) to get certain commitments:
- I would expect McCarthy to admit his missteps and arrogance in taking the representatives for granted.
- I would expect McCarthy to be explicit about the changes he is willing to support.
- I would expect him to agree to be held accountable to apply new rules that have been negotiated.
- I would expect him to understand that breaking agreements and trust is a huge violation and will have consequences.
- I would expect him to accept that it will take a very long time to begin to earn the trust of those around him.
- I would expect him to know that any breach of agreements will be a setback to re-establishing trust.
There are probably many more requirements that the Republican representatives can demand of McCarthy, officially or unofficially. Although some would see these efforts as a way to disempower McCarthy, I believe his agreeing to them could have many benefits for him and his colleagues: the demonstration of humility and the importance of commitment and accountability to the caucus and to the country are just a couple. Just like any relationship that any of us try to mend, the violators must prove to us, over and over again, that they mean what they have said and that they will make the maximum effort to heal the damage that has been done. Every decision will be a statement of their sincerity and resolve. And of their courage. Just because we are working in the arena of politics doesn’t mean that anything goes.
McCarthy, if voted in, will need to prove every day that he is trustworthy.Published in