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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The latest, greatest embarrassment of the GOP —  the election of a speaker — shows the party is incapable of leading

Annie Liu
The vacancy of Speaker of the house left the Republicans in disarray.

With the upcoming election cycle, it is increasingly important for both parties to stay connected and organized in order to form a united front to fight the opposition. The Democrats are seemingly staying strong as a united party, but the Republicans are constantly disagreeing about the direction of the party.

The Republicans’ election of a new speaker has seemingly given the voter a comparison to the seemingly united Democratic front and the Republicans in disarray. In case you forgot about (or ignored) the House speaker debacle here’s a rundown of the low

the removal of Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and the subsequent scramble to elect a successor. 

On Oct. 2, representative Matt Gaetz announced an official move to remove McCarthy. The next day, a vote to vacate the seat passed by 216-210, and representative Patrick McHenry became Speaker pro tempore, temporarily filling in the role of the Speaker of the House. 

The process that followed was complete and utter chaos among the Republican delegation, and displays the polarization of the American political system. This shift also signifies the willingness of the Republican Party to be led by extreme ideologies to attempt to save the party image.

The Republican Party currently holds a 221-212 majority in the House by a narrow margin. This majority should allow for a seamless election of a speaker. But the original process in January to elect the former speaker McCa’rthy, where he stood for 15 rounds of voting in the House, shows the ever-growing deep divide within the Republican party. 

The inability to unite behind the candidate that they chose shows a fundamental issue of the modern Republican party — the party has become polarized internally.

The party has shifted to the increasingly louder far right. This shift has moderates scared of going against the words of political extremists within their own party, especially the leading candidate for the Republican nomination: Donald Trump.

The Democrats, however, have received some blame for the situation at the Capitol. Throughout the whole process of electing a speaker, the Democratic Party regularly voted unanimously for minority leader Hakeem Jeffries. Though this demonstrated the ability of the Democrats to put aside their differences, they ruined their chances of having a moderate as a Speaker. 

In the midst of the looming government shutdown, McCarthy blamed the Democrats for it, instead of taking responsibility for the leading party. Democrats’ simply cannot be blamed for stubbornness and an unwillingness to provide McCarthy with the votes he needed to maintain the seat, when he blamed them for the Republicans’ situation. 

However, I do not disagree with the actions of the Democrats, as they did not — and should not — give up their standards in order to appease a more conservative base. The Democratic Party has been unwilling to bend to opponents, and stood firmly behind a single candidate.

This judgment of the Democratic Party being unwilling to save McCarthy is also unfair, as Republicans alike could have switched sides and voted for Hakeem Jefferies, a moderate Democrat, instead of a far-right politician. This option would have been more optimal for the vast majority of moderates, but people, on both sides, are constantly unwilling to break party lines to do what is right.

The formal Republican nominees for McCarthy’s seat went as follows: Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan and Mike Johnson. However, this process included many other names being thrown around (even ex-president Donald Trump), exposing the difficulty of the Republican delegation to come behind a single candidate. 

Steve Scalise was selected by a 113-99 ballot of House Republicans. On the following day, he withdrew his candidacy, citing a lack of support among the entire Republican delegation. 

On Oct. 13, Republicans chose Jim Jordan, and by Oct. 17,  the house reconvened for a vote. To be the elected speaker, a candidate must receive 217 votes. Jordan’s first ballot received 200 votes, but by the third, that number whittled down to 194. Jordan was then dropped by the Republican caucus. 

On Oct. 24, after the Republican Party was losing votes and other candidates had dropped  out of the race, they voted between Mike Johnson and Chief Whip Tom Emmer. Johnson ended up victorious with a simple majority of 220 during his first vote, surpassing the majority needed for that particular session. 

The election of Johnson ended a 23-day battle among Republicans, but did not lead to a positive ending for the rest of America. Johnson, a far-right politician and 2020 presidential election denier, is now the figurehead of American Congress and second in line for the presidency. A person who attempted to deny Americans the fundamental right of democracy, through election denying and gerrymandering, has been placed in charge of Congress and is second in line to the presidency after the vice president. 

Johnson is also a staunch Christian Nationalist, who is against the separation of church and state and believes in the Bible above all else. During his first speech after election as speaker of the house he said, “I believe that scripture, the Bible is very clear that God is the one that raises up those in authority.” Christian Nationalist have risen in popularity in the Republican Party, but they are truly dangerous. The person who controls arguably the most important branch of government, and is the current most powerful elected Republican official, should not take the word of the Bible over the core legal documents of the United States.

This step of unanimously electing a far-right Christian Nationalist politician as Speaker shows Republicans’ willingness to give into pressure from the far-right to appease their small but powerful base. As a result of far-right politicians who were unwilling to compromise, more moderate Republicans were willing to give up their morals in order to please a base most don’t agree with. 

The Republican Party is seemingly doing anything to in an attempt to create a facade of a united party. The Republican Party is willing to concede to the loud, but sparse, extreme right and Christain Nationalists of the Republican Party. Johnson’s elevation to the speakership should be a wake-up call for every single politician in Congress that party lines should not divide us, but the basic principles an elected official stands upon. People should stop constantly worrying about the opposition party but be worrying about the people behind the politics at hand. 

Among all the chaos Republicans and Democrats are wondering, what the House has actually achieved in the past year. Republican congressman Chip Roy, spoke out on the floor of Congress and said, “One thing. I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing. One. That I can go campaign on and say we did.” 

The Republicans must take a look at itself and wonder if they are willing to constantly concede to extreme far right politicians in order to keep them happy. They don’t deserve to win an election if they continue to follow their current direction, and have displayed their ineffectiveness in forming a coalition to do even basic governance.

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