By Dr. Harold A. Black
Rather than saying take this job and shove it, after 15 ballots Kevin McCarthy finally became Speaker of the House of Representatives. There was much gnashing of teeth from conservative commentators about the process. Most condemned the 20 conservative Republicans from the House’s Freedom Caucus who demanded certain concessions from McCarthy. It was apparent that at least three members, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Lauren Boebert of Colorado were never going to vote for McCarthy. Rather in the end, they voted “present” so McCarthy could be elected with a simple plurality.
I found the whoe kerfuffle to be amusing. First, most of those critical of the twenty holdouts whined that since 90 percent of the Republican representatives were voting for McCarthy, that he should be elected over the objections of the 10 percent. Wasn’t this how democracy was supposed to work? Huh? Did these critics forget that this country is not a democracy but a representative republic established to protect the rights of the minority? Sean Hannity sounded like a whining leftist who bemoans the Electoral College and the unrepresentative structure of the Senate. Whether you agreed with Matt Gaetz or not, he and his cohorts embodied the spirit of the Founders. Moreover, the holdouts were representing the Republican base which for the longest has felt disrespected and ignored by the Republican establishment and McCarthy embodies the establishment.
Second, what were the concessions that McCarthy was forced to make? They were:
– No more voting on omnibus spending bills. Rather, each one of the 12 appropriation bills must be considered separately. Sounds like a good idea to me and one concession that McCarthy should have readily agreed to implement.
– Cap discretionary spending at 2020 levels in order to balance the budget within 10 years. Again, a no brainer but one not likely to pass the Senate.
– Create a committee to investigate the “weaponization of the Federal government.” Again, a no brainer given the actions of Merrick Garland’s Department of “Justice”.
– The reinstitution of the law allowing for reductions in the salaries of government officials. I have long contended that Federal salaries should be the average of salaries for similar positions in the private sector instead of exceeding them. Again, a no brainer.
– Keep McCarthy’s super PAC out of open House races for “safe” seats.
– Appoint members of the Freedom Caucus to the House Rules Committee.
– Give the House 72 hours to review legislation.
– Require a vote to raise the debt ceiling.
– Hold a vote on term limits.
– Hold a vote on border security.
– Allow one member rather than five to start the process to remove the speaker.
McCarthy should not have had a problem with any of these except for the last one. This was likely a conflict just to show who was going to blink first. That McCarthy would not readily grant these concessions indicates that this was a classic “p……ing contest” which is defined as a “competition between rivals to determine superiority, predominance or leadership.”
The election of McCarthy also ends the January 6 nonsense. That so-called “insurrection” was more like a frat party than an insurrection. To see the real thing, just look at what is happening in Brazil and Peru. Finally, McCarthy’s acceptance speech sounded more like Jim Jordan than Mitch McConnell. He promised to fight for lower energy prices, to repeal the funding for the new 87,000 IRS agents, to cut the regulatory burden on business, to stop the rising federal debt and to secure the southern border. With an agenda like that, he should have been elected unanimously on the first ballot. The best part of his speech was almost universally ignored by the media. He talked about the diverse makeup of the remarkable Massachusetts Marblehead Militia who rowed Washington and his 2,400 troops across the Delaware. They were stout fishermen and were Scottish, black, Native American and immigrants. But they were all brave Americans who would have faced awful deaths had they lost. The image of a diverse crew rowing the same boat for the same goal should be inspiring for all Americans. Instead, the media ignored it because it did not meet their new narrative of a fragmented, compartmentalized America made up of suffering individual groups being oppressed by white supremacy and soulless capitalism.