When the House began to hold its vote for a new Speaker on January 3, 2023, the extent to which you consider yourself a political nerd could be measured by your level of excitement about, and the extent to which you found yourself riveted by, the proceedings. But as the votes continued to drag on without resolution we were forced to reckon with the monumental selfishness, avariciousness, and incompetence of Man Who Would Be Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, on the one hand and, on the other, the contemptuousness of every single Republican in the Chamber towards not only the American people but towards democracy itself. As day two drew to a close after another three failed votes, it all began to feel shameful and demoralizing. To make things worse, various reporters and media outlets had begun answering a question no one was even asking: Who are the moderates and who are the conservatives among the House Republicans?
It's bothered me for a long time the way most of the media refer to the Republicans in Congress as “Conservatives” but those references are almost always in contradistinction to their opposites in the Democratic Party—it’s “Conservatives” versus “Liberals.” Neither label is accurate but it’s a short-hand that’s been employed for a very long time to describe not just parties but wings of parties and the Supreme Court.
But when the fight—so spectacularly FUBAR and public—was intra-party, the media had to figure out how to distinguish between the two warring Republican factions. Their logic seemed to be, “Well, they’re in opposition. They want different leaders; a small minority is causing all the problems; we must, therefore, look at their differences through an ideological prism.” If there’s an ideology organized around the principle of hating Kevin McCarthy, that would certainly apply here. What makes no sense at all, however, is to refer to the 20 holdouts, led by sex-trafficker and seditionist Matt Gaetz, as “Conservative.” It makes even less sense, if possible, to refer to the unwavering McCarthy-backers as “moderates.” In what universe does either of these epithets apply? Unless there is a universe, as yet to be discovered, in which “conservative” and “moderate” are synonyms and they both mean “treasonous,” the answer is, there isn’t one.
The ideological homogeneity of the Republican Party is not unique to the 118th Congress. It’s a 40-year-long trend that has seen elected Republicans moving further and further to the right while the ways in which they are described has continued to exist along the moderate-to-conservative continuum.
A quick look at some of the votes in the 117th Congress, in which the Democrats, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, held a very slim majority of 222 over the Republicans’ 205-seat minority, illustrates the launching-off point for the new session:
208 Republicans, including Liz Cheney, voted against the Protecting Our Democracy Act.
203 Republicans voted against the Presidential Election Reform Act.
193 Republicans, including Liz Cheney, voted against the Affordable Insulin Now Act.
195 Republicans (that’s 95%) voted against The Right to Contraception Act (in the 21st century, no less).
I include Cheney here to illustrate the fact that, despite her being heroized for her role as Vice Chair on the January 6th Select Committee, she is less a proponent of democracy than she is an enemy of Donald Trump. It wasn’t her heresy against the party that lost her the 2022 Republican primary in Wyoming, it was her unwillingness to support, or at least stay silent about, Donald’s self-coup.
Speaking of the January 6th insurrection, once McCarthy’s heart rate returned to normal, he, like every member of the group opposing his bid for Speaker, voted against certifying Biden’s 2020 victory. For three weeks, though, he was willing to concede that Donald was directly responsible for the violent mob that swarmed the Capitol, endangering him and everybody else in Congress. Then, for reasons that aren’t yet clear, (though we can speculate) McCarthy realized that, although his life was no longer in danger, his political future might be if he continued to lay the blame for January 6th at the door of its architect.
So he flew to Florida to grovel at the feet of and swear renewed fealty to his overlord. When McCarthy returned to D.C., he was a man transformed. He finally realized that January 6th was, after all, the very best day of his life and the disruption of the election certification, ordered by said overlord for the express purpose of destroying American democracy thereby shredding the very document McCarthy had sworn “support and defend,” was of no consequence.
This invertebrate without an exoskeleton, whatever kind of creature that makes him, is now nominally in charge of the House of Representatives. But it’s McCarthy’s detractors as well as those who (like Marjorie Taylor Greene) made their own cynical bargain with him who have been empowered to wield a sledgehammer against good governance and democracy.
There are a handful of House Republicans who claim to be moderates. Nancy Mace (R-SC) has recently been the most vocal. This designation is very important to members like her who won their elections in swing districts. It is, of course, a sham. The fact that every single one of them voted for McCarthy—as much an election denier and enabler of Donald as any of the twenty original holdouts—15 times and all but one of the them voted for the quite frankly dangerous new rules package belies their identification as moderates while reminding us that just because a Republican wins in a swing district, does not mean he or she is moderate whatever the mainstream media would have us believe.
We now live in a democracy in which 11 of the 17 House committee chairs voted to overturn the results of a free and fair election. We are at the mercy of a Republican House that will willingly allow the United States to default on its debt, thereby triggering a global economic crisis of unimaginable proportions, in order to hold hostage programs like Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, that keep Americans out of poverty.
These Republicans conserve nothing. They are moderate about nothing. The water in which they swim is petty grievance and their only skills seem to be airing those grievances, projecting their failures onto their political opponents, and, yes, being cruel--always.
They redistribute the vast resources of the United States government to further enrich the already rich.
They reserve money for causes that do nothing to help improve the lives of the vast majority of the American people.
They care nothing for democracy. One-hundred and seventy-five democracy-related lawsuits were filed in 2022: 93 of them, were “anti-voting” and all were filed by Republicans. One of their goals is to restrict the right to vote to people who look like them, believe like them, and who will vote for them.
They favor hostage-taking over doing the hard work of governing.
They never deal in good faith.
They are seditionists.
They are domestic terrorists.
They are authoritarians.
They are autocrats.
They are fascists.
They are traitors.
P.S. Starting this Friday, January 13th, we’re adding a new episode of The Mary Trump Show tentatively called The House of Horrors. It’ll be a quick 15-30 minute discussion about the top three to five most egregious actions of the Republican controlled 118th Congress between me and a rotating cast of Nerd Avengers. I’ll try to post a link on Friday but you can find the show on Politicon’s YouTube channel.
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This one goes in the Mary Trump Pantheon!!!
I can’t stomach it😬 The next two years are going to drive me nuts. God help our country and save our democracy 🙏🏻