The Last of the Young Guns
We won't have Kevin to kick around any more.
In 2018, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced he would not run for re-election.
And now, via WaPo: Former speaker Kevin McCarthy will retire from Congress at end of year.
Add in that in 2015 Speaker of the House John Boehner resigned from the Speakership and his seat as well as the many, many votes to elect McCarthy as Speaker, his subsequent ouster, and the many, many votes needed to then elect Johnson as Speaker.
I don’t have time for a deep analysis at the moment, but all of this is indicative of a party that is in utter crisis and undergoing a significant transformation but in a weird slow-motion kind of way. But I would hasten to note, not surprisingly to regular readers, that while in other representative democracies such a crisis would likely have led to a fracturing of the party, which would have included challenges at the ballot, the US system helps keep the party afloat.
Specifically, the fact that there is no centralized control of party labels means that the party can maintain a huge chunk of voter support no matter what else happens, the same way sports fans are ultimately rooting for the laundry, as players, coaches, and whole philosophies of the game change for their team over time.
I am not saying that there aren’t GOP voters who support this evolution; clearly, there are. I am simply noting that this kind of ongoing turnover within a party, and its clear shift from Paul Ryan objectivism light to Mike John Christan nationalism (or even just MTG chaos) has come about subtlety and not in a way that most voters understand. And if they don’t understand it, then party labels are not performing their prime function in a representative democracy, which is to send clear signals to the voters.
Again, simply as a matter of fact, there are clear factions of the GOP that would make more sense, both in terms of internal logic, and democratic representation, as more than one party. At a bare minimum, its clear inability to select and maintain leadership underscores this fact.
This is not a healthy party and it is a party that would be facing more pressure from the electorate if the system (primaries, a too-small House, single-seat districts, over-representation of small states in the Senate, and the Electoral College) did not artificially prop them up. Democratic competition should lead to adaptation by power-seekers to better align with voter preference and it should also force power-seekers to use the voters to address their internal fights. Neither of those things are happening in the US at the moment and that is to the detriment of good governance (see, e.g., the fact that we are operating, yet again, on a stop-gap spending measure, not to mention our ongoing inability to address real problems facing the country, both in the shot and long terms).
Side note on McCarthy, I think he goes down in history for this photo, and the fact that despite evidence that he knew better, he was willing to prostrate himself before Trump in the hopes of getting power, which he only briefly did.
McCarthy is also another in a long line of politicians who thought they could harness Trump and emerge unscathed. But Icarus is on the line and he has a few words about flying too close to orange objects.