What we see today, Friday, October 9th, is that the Republicans in the House of Representatives are engaged in national blackmail. Personal extortion.
We don’ t mean holding up the country in order to get the party’s way. What we mean is that the Republican Party’s Freedom Caucus (perhaps thirty strong) are blackmailing the putative leadership in the House over who is to be the next Speaker.
Members aren’t thinking about the welfare of the nation. They’re thinking what can happen to the career of anyone who agrees to take over, even temporarily, that position.
Paul Ryan has been under siege for twenty-four hours. He says no, and he’s right. To take over as Speaker would ruin his entire career. Why? Because the position is only temporary. He’s fine as long as he can manage to placate the Freedom Caucus, but if he displeases them just once, he’s out. He will have sacrificed an important job (House Ways and Means Committee Chair) for the sake of his party, and nothing he gets in return is worth it.
The Tea Party revolution has brought into focus and into the halls of Congress a group of men and women of very little brain power and less experience who neither believe in good government nor care about making the nation great once more. What they care about is shouting at the top of their lungs like children, screaming and crying until and unless they get their way on everything. They displaced John Boehner; they displaced Kevin McCarthy. (Neither one necessarily talented or articulate.)
Boehner was too cooperative with the Democrats, seeming to believe that he had to fashion a coalition in order to maintain government’s operation, its budgets, its defenses. As for McCarthy, he was one of Boehner’s boys. Who in the Freedom Caucus would trust him? Besides, the man had done virtually nothing since arriving on the hill in 2010 apart from smiling and speaking earnestly with members one by one, making friends but advancing no Republican positions.
Hardline Republicans like to pretend they have a very deep bench, full of talent and fire, and that finding a replacement for McCarthy as Speaker will be an easy thing to do. But asked directly this morning on his own show, Joe Scarborough could name not one who might qualify, nor could he name two in his line-up ready, willing and able to soothe the savage Freedom Caucus.
Worse, it is apparent that each possible member who might ascend to the Speaker’s chair is hustling for himself/herself, making the membership of the Caucus promise them things in advance they would never ordinarily get even after years of service.
This we suppose is the natural end of the Exceptional American who’s been rampant in all fifty states. How could it be otherwise? The dozen candidates for the Republican nomination have been the leaders of the pack, showing where self-interest really lies. If they’re not interested in anything beyond personal aggrandizement, why should the rank and file be? As possible nominees, however, they are forced into positions of seeming to care, or seeming to understand, or seeking sympathy and understanding as well as having power, vision, and strategy. But that’s the kind of stuff the rank and file can do without. They’re in Congress for themselves. In fact they’re in business for themselves.
This economic and class-conscious free-for-all once more makes the voters ill with contempt and worry. Recalling the storied and hugely effective history of Congress through a dozen wars, upheavals, riots and revolutions, throughout the world, we all wonder what the hell happened? How did the GI Bill give rise to educated graft? How did the Marshall Plan mutate into foreign countries lining up for annual doles? How did the US nuclear umbrella which allowed smaller nations to grow and prosper evolve into resentment and blame?
Which two nouns clearly represent what’s going on atop Capitol Hill this morning. Resentment and blame.
We have no clairvoyant pundits to help us see the future, let along understand where it lies.
What we do have is the humanization of the Oscar-winning film of a few years ago called ”Crash.”
If “Black Lives Matter” has been changed by Bernie Sanders to read “All Lives Matter,” then who in the end finally stands up straight and proud and bravely to say, “Government matters.” And since this is so, hadn’t we better pull ourselves together, do some weeding and throwing out, and water sparingly the freedom of a real caucus of involved Americans concerned about their own futures and those of their children?
Is it too late to run the 2010 election all over again?