02 October 2023

And the Gaetz of Hell shall not prevail against them

So McCarthy finally did the right thing, after all other options had been tried and failed.  The nihilist nutballs on the fringe of his own party had made it clear that nothing could placate them, and in any case even a successful effort to do so would have failed to avert a shutdown, since whatever draconian-cut-filled abomination they came up with would have been DOA with the Senate and Biden.  So he brought out a 45-day stopgap which included almost none of the concessions the crazies had been demanding, and it passed with almost all Democrats and a large majority of Republicans on board.  The House as a whole had had a solid majority for a sane solution all along; this problem could have been solved weeks ago, were it not for the speaker's power to gatekeep what can be voted on, and McCarthy's partisan abuse of that power.

Yes, abuse.  The latest shutdown shitstorm is a reminder that the real problem here is loyalty to party over country -- the attitude that the majority party should try as hard as it can to govern with no input from the other party at all, as if the minority's very presence in Congress were somehow illegitimate.  This is an affront to democracy.  Every member of the House was elected.  The goal should always be to reach the most beneficial solution for the country that can get a majority, regardless of the partisan composition of that majority.  When the ruling party cannot unify to pass a pragmatic solution to whatever problem is at hand, reaching out to moderates in the minority party should be the first option, not the last.

The great virtue of a strong two-party system is that, since there are far more than two factions or interest groups in a country, each party ends up being a coalition of such groups -- so that all of them need to be able to compromise with each other in order to keep the party functioning.  Fanatics who refuse to compromise cannot work within a party, and end up being totally frozen out of power, to the benefit of the country.  This is one main reason why I generally oppose third parties -- foreign countries whose systems allow third parties to win seats often end up suffering political paralysis, unstable coalition governments, crazy laws getting passed because a party with a few seats is able to hold the ruling party's majority hostage, etc.

But same mess can arise when the fanatics become part of one party's coalition (or an existing faction evolves into fanatics) and then refuse to compromise even with the rest of their own party.  They act this way believing that they can leverage their position as the critical last few votes in order to force passage of a radical agenda which does not have majority support in their own party nor in the country generally.  That is, they behave like a third party, subverting democracy in the service of extremism.

Well, if such a group behaves like a third party, they should expect to be treated like one, and see the rest of their party shove them aside by reaching out to the opposition party -- using a bipartisan majority to pass something closer to the country's political center.  That's what finally happened in the House.

Now arch-nutbar Matt Gaetz is threatening to file a "motion to vacate" and remove McCarthy from the speakership to punish him for making a deal that overwhelming House and Senate majorities could support instead of pandering to a fringe minority.  If Gaetz does do this, it will give the House Democrats the options of (1) saving McCarthy and making him permanently dependent on them to pass anything, or (2) voting against him and forcing the Republicans into another agonizing and ridiculous series of votes to elect a new speaker, as they did in January (analysis here).  While the Democrats will surely relish having such a choice, Gaetz's own faction would end up either embarrassed or powerless -- but such people are not good at thinking several moves ahead.  As for McCarthy, he might well prefer to work with Democrats from now on, if he has finally grasped that dealing with the lunatics just doesn't produce results.  Biden, whose hopes (when running for office in 2020) for reasonable Republicans he could deal with seemed naïve in light of the obstructionism he had seen close up during Obama's presidency, would doubtless welcome such a development eagerly.

It has been interesting to me to see how the right-wing internet has covered the deal.  Most of the right-wing blogs I read have totally ignored it, as they ignored the whole shutdown fight.  Among "news" sites, Breitbart ludicrously spun the deal as a win for the far right because it includes no aid for Ukraine (the only major concession the wingnuts got); Gateway Pundit stuck to its usual narrative that all Republicans other than the far-right fringe are traitors plotting with the evil communist Democrats to destroy America; and most sites bizarrely focused most of their attention on Jamaal Bowman's fire-alarm stunt, as if that were the main story rather than the bipartisan deal.  Oh, and as for that Ukrainian aid cutoff, it won't last.  McCarthy and McConnell both agree that the aid must continue, and there are reports that a separate bill to ensure that will soon be up for a vote.

The wingnuts thought that, if they could just remain intransigent, the pressures created by the impending shutdown would force the whole government to submit to their agenda.  In fact, those pressures forced McCarthy to resort to the bipartisan cooperation which his party had feverishly struggled to avoid.  Let's hope that they learn their lesson, and that McCarthy learns his.


Blogger John A Hill said...

"Gaetz of Hell"
I like it.
And a good post and summary of where the House GOP stands.
They are a mess.

02 October, 2023 06:03  
Blogger Bohemian said...

The hijacked Republican Party will never be Conservative again, they have effectively ousted any True Conservatives and pander now to Extremists and Fascist leaning Lunatic Fringe. I'm a Moderate Independent and it bothers me when a Two Party System no longer works for anyone due to damned Partisan Loyalty lacking common sense or putting Nation first. Each Election I'm more discouraged by the Choices, or lack thereof. Frankly, the Two frontrunners are too Old and one is completely deranged and wants to be a Dictator... so the other one gets my Vote now only becoz he's NOT THAT GUY... which, isn't how I prefer to Vote, but, here we are... last Election I had to Vote Blue no matter Who simply to Save Democracy and Life as we know it.

03 October, 2023 00:00  
Blogger Marc McKenzie said...

"Let's hope that they learn their lesson, and that McCarthy learns his."

Unfortunately, I have to take on the Doomsday+1 attitude and say this: I don't believe they will learn their lesson, nor do I think McCarthy will learn his.

The GOP has pushed farther into territory that is more authoritarian than democratic. They are only interested in wrecking the government and not interested in the overall welfare of the nation (and many of them prefer if Ukraine were overrun by the Russians). Meanwhile, Democrats have been showing--for years--that they are more progressive and more interested in helping out the American people, even those Americans who hate them.

This is clearly obvious to anyone who is paying attention, which is why it is so teeth-grindingly frustrating to see howls of "Both parties are the same!" from those who rush to third-party candidates.

03 October, 2023 06:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

John: Thanks. They are a mess indeed. They can't manage things. It seems very likely they'll lose their House majority next year.

Bohemian: Certainly they've changed a lot in the last couple of decades. Reagan would never have imagined his party siding with Russia over NATO.

There is a lot of willful blindness about the age of the two likely presidential candidates. Either or both could die or suffer a serious, disqualifying medical event between now and the election. If that happens to one of the candidates after winning his party's nomination, I don't know what they'd do about it.

Marc: McCarthy is already showing he's learned nothing. Last I heard, he met with Jeffries to ask for Democratic votes to keep him in the speakership, but offered nothing in return. That's not going to fly. The Democrats would expect fast movement on Ukraine aid and the end of the Biden impeachment, at the very least.

Authoritarian regimes are usually disorganized and incompetent, and the House Republicans seem to be well along that path already.

03 October, 2023 10:44  
Anonymous Annie said...

This is a good summary, Infidel. McCarthy obviously learned nothing because after the shutdown was averted with largely Democratic votes, he went on the Sunday talk shows and blamed the Democrats for bringing us to the brink. That solidified Democratic opposition to helping him retain his precious gavel—along with the lack of trust that his word meant anything. Not surprisingly, the RNC is now blaming the Democrats for the vacant speakership, when Gaetz and McCarthy made this move inevitable at the start.

It’s worth noting that McCarthy joins Gingrich, Boehner, and Ryan in the list of Republican speakers who were driven out by their caucus radicals. It is increasingly clear there are just too many Republicans who do not assume office with a willingness to govern and compromise for the greater good.

04 October, 2023 06:16  
Blogger CAS said...

If history is any indicator, I'm betting that McCarthy and his ilk are not going to learn any lessons. Traditional Republicans have had so many openings to move away from the extremists, but they're convinced they cannot survive unless they kowtow to the MAGA crowd. Maybe they're right, but even if they're wrong, it hardly matters. This is the gospel that they've come to embrace and getting them to believe otherwise is an exercise in futility.

04 October, 2023 10:02  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Annie: Not only did McCarthy blame the Democrats for the near-shutdown, he also previously violated the deal on spending levels he had reached with Biden to avoid a debt-ceiling default. There is no point in making further deals with somebody who doesn't abide by what he promises.

It seems that the Republicans have had this problem -- a nihilistic minority behaving like an intransigent splinter party -- for a long time. The only way they'll ever be able to govern effectively is if they get large enough majorities to render the lunatic fringe irrelevant, since if the lunatic fringe is effectively not part of their coalition, they don't have a true majority if they're dependent on it. The Democrats don't seem to have that problem, based on having been able to govern with a similarly narrow majority.

CAS: So far it's looking like that is the case. They're continuing to make moves to antagonize the Democrats and alienate them, even though they've seen that at least some Democrats are willing to work with them to get essential things done -- in order to appease the far-right fringe, which has shown that for them, no amount of appeasement can ever be enough.

04 October, 2023 20:12  

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