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We can now officially be glad that there was not the Great Red Wave in November. After 15 votes on the House Speakership, those truly interested in a restoration of the republic and actual conservative governance did get a beginning to a beginning in that direction which certainly would not have been the case if McCarthy had gone into 2023 with all the cards he mistakenly figured for himself.
If the career politico stands by his word and the concessions made to finalize his selection as Speaker, there is a chance to start a journey toward a House more responsive to the grassroots and responsible to the Constitution. There should be a move away from the totalitarian model of Speakership practiced by Pelosi, a more decentralized House, more “regular order” instead of the fake unity of keeping the more conservative voices “in their place”, well-placed conservatives who will actually push an agenda in key spots as well as a “Frank Church type committee” to go after the abuses of the FBI and Intell.
I have said before that McCarthy would not be a great Speaker, but he might be the stepping stone to one. He is what he is, a political ladder climber who has been a staffer, then state member, and then on to the House. He has been a deputy whip and a whip and seemingly still isn’t very good at it. He is a fundraiser and lives and breathes the D.C. game. He makes promises, etc. He also lacks any real mission beyond the politics. Politics is little more than vanity and power-mongering without a true purpose.
If McCarthy had been serious about these important changes, this could have well been settled either in the summer or certainly in December after the election. The truth is that he ignored the more conservative demands because, at first, he thought he wouldn’t have to if the Red Wave actually happened. He could rely on all the others. Then as things changed, he took the same tactic that his stripe have always taken with grassroots interests. He treated them as second-class citizens. He still wanted to avoid those things which would make the process more open and transparent.
He avoided making concessions early, especially to keep the so-called moderates in line and not excite them. They are as uneasy with grassroots issues as anyone, and as unreliable.
There will be more transparency with the budgeting and spending than ever before. But it was hard won. And it is far from enough.
There are real lessons here. Those 20-odd individuals who made a stand and then worked their tails off to create a workable start at restoring the true function of the House, grabbed what leverage they had and used it. They hung on despite whatever was thrown at them.
I have already said in various places that I believe this was truly a “dog catches the car” moment that might have been a surprise. But the notion that they didn’t have “a plan” is short-sighted. When they saw their chance, they took it, and their plan was to win some of the things they consider necessary for saving the republic. And then to fight again when needed. Each one’s wants might have been slightly different in some ways, but they were headed in the right direction. Among them and those who will follow in their steps are the examples of leadership that might actually save the GOP from its old self.
Action is always required if substantive change takes place. Action always involves some risk. Recklessness is not required but boldness is. To engage is to risk. But you win nothing if you do not engage.
We managed to avoid the comfortable disaster of some “moderate” fix to the stalemate. Believe me, there are plenty of those middle roaders who would have preferred dealing with Dems on the matter and wish it had happened that way.
The concessions won are important but the road will not be easy. The establishment, “go-along” crowd will still want to return to the old ways. They are uncomfortable with open government. They prefer counting seats instead of results. But their past has proven that seats themselves are not results. It is vitally important who and what sits in those seats.
What those 20 gave us is a chance at a start. They are to be thanked. They are and certainly will be targets. The sad truth is any who try to shake the trees much for the comfortable have always been targets to most of the party elites.
True, Matt Gaetz might have a little too much show pony in him but he mattered in a positive way. Chip Roy seems to be a level-headed but determined warrior. It is a good thing that the last six only voted present if they didn’t feel respected enough or want to make sure it is understood that their trust has not been won. McCarthy shouldn’t be trusted. His feet need to be continually held to the fire as much as possible.
I am hopeful, but only if this is built on in a big way realizing that we are in an eternal fight. Hardly anything is settled. The rules package still has to be voted on, and frankly, there are plenty of the old GOP crowd who are unhappy with positive change, no matter how small.
The start that the 20 gave us should include much more of the same. Two sure ways to improve anything are choice and competition. That is certainly true for ideas and policies. Challenges are good. It is time to quit buying the false dichotomy pushed by so many that prefers “safe” seats to ones that actually are committed to advancing positive change. What we have seen for those short few days is what the contentious practice of self-governance is about. Head-to-head and open competition of ideas is just a start.
Those of the old school will always prefer the lifeless “unity” they seem to admire. It protects their positions and walls them off from the base, the grassroots.
If this indeed turns into a chance, if even a slim one, then we have to realize it is a long, long battle that requires both purpose and direction.Published in