Governance? I Think NOT!

Cowardice, greed, and arrogance are the first three words that come to mind when I ponder Kevin McCarthy’s already-failed tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Make no mistake … I do not support the 20 right-wing radicals who are holding the United States hostage by voting for the likes of domestic terrorist Jim (Gym) Jordan, but McCarthy does not have either the courage or the strength to lead the House for the next two years … he is a coward because he has sold his soul (and our democracy) trying to gain a position he has only been able to dream of, he is a greedy and arrogant bastard because he is putting his own desires for power ahead of the best interests of the nation.  Dan Rather has a rather more well-modulated way of assessing the situation than I do at the moment, so I shall share his words with you instead of mine that would be laced with various expletives.

Burning Down The House

Chaos reigns

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

05 January 2023

Before craziness and chaos engulfed the House of Representatives in the saga of electing a new speaker, a Kodak moment provided a vivid portrait of the relative health of our two major political parties and our nation as a whole.

There stood Nancy Pelosi raising the gavel for the last time as speaker in front of the imposing scroll-back chair from which she had wielded power. Her job at that moment was purely ceremonial — closing the 117th Congress — but the symbolism was poignant. It marked an end to a Congress of action and accomplishment and the beginning of an era of performative pandemonium. The gavel stood there in mid-air like a baton with no one to accept it.

In the reporting on Kevin McCarthy’s travails for gaining the speakership, many have noted how small his majority is, how he can afford to lose only a few votes, and that therein lies his major problem. But as others have pointed out, Pelosi had a small majority in the last Congress — yet she maintained unity in her party and ran the House with efficiency and precision, and to great effect.

The dumpster fire we are witnessing now has been smoldering for years, if not decades. It is what happens when people elect representatives who actively hate the idea of governance. It is what happens when people rack up victories with Fox News rants and not legislation. It is what happens when a quest for power means you’re willing to yield and appease everyone and everything that can help you secure it.

To be sure, crooks, cranks, and malevolent embarrassments have not been the exclusive purview of any one political party over the years. The nature of democracy is that it can be very messy; in moments of passion, fear, or even apathy, it can sweep into office all manner of men and women who have no business being there. The idea of a legislature, however, is that the whims, idiosyncrasies, and destructive instincts of a few can be tempered by the many. Obviously that is not what is happening now.

There is a tendency among some in the beltway press to frame this as a battle of the political extremes, how the far right is undermining Republican initiatives. In this analysis there is often a perfunctory “both sides” mention of the political left, which also supposedly threatens the “center” and the ability to govern.

This simplistic framing misses the mark at this moment. On the Republican side, it is not clear what the renegades want, other than to figuratively burn down the house (or House). Some have specific demands, and McCarthy has caved more than a spelunker. But it’s still not good enough. Furthermore, these demands are almost exclusively about process and not policy. It’s about allowing a nihilistic minority to foment perpetual mayhem, thereby undercutting the debate and responsible compromise that should be the business of Congress. Ultimately, it’s about accommodating Steve Bannon and not delivering for constituents.

There is no analogous movement on the left. Even if one disagrees with the policy positions of the so-called progressive wing of the Democratic Party, ultimately those members of Congress are almost all institutionalists — in that they believe in the idea and work of the legislative branch of government. They understand that you need a speaker for the House to function, so they backed Pelosi. They left the debates and disagreements for individual bills and votes. That, by the way, is how the Founders envisioned it.

But this isn’t just about Pelosi, as formidable as her leadership skills were. The Democrats also have rallied around her successor, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who occupies more of the moderate middle of the party. As Republicans embarrass themselves on the national stage with rounds and rounds of votes, the Democrats have held steady in unity behind Jeffries. It’s an impressive show of discipline for a political party that was once mocked (including by Democratic members of Congress) for having all the herding instincts of cats.

As much as this spectacle is gaining the attention of the American people, make no mistake that it is being watched with keen eyes around the world — by our friends and foes alike. Our allies wonder, especially in the wake of the last administration, whether they can count on America. Will these renegades blow up the world economy by defaulting on American debt? Will they pass a budget? Will they support Ukraine? Will they actively continue to undermine America’s democratic traditions?

Meanwhile, in places like Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and Pyongyang, despots, autocrats, and dictators are cheering our divisions and the distance they create between our national ideals and our political reality. In moments of instability in Washington, the entire world becomes more dangerous. Not that the Republican holdouts care.

The public debasement of House Republicans may make for great schadenfreude viewing for Democrats. Some literally broke out the popcorn in the House chamber. But ultimately this is a sad moment for our country. We need strong political parties that believe in negotiating, legislating, and governing. We need individual congresswomen and men of decency and integrity. We need strength and thoughtfulness to tackle our myriad problems.

We need a Congress, not a circus.

For another excellent analysis of the situation, see our friend Keith’s post … he, too, is spot-on!

18 thoughts on “Governance? I Think NOT!

  1. IMO, the paragraph that begins: “As much as this spectacle is gaining the attention of the American people, make no mistake that it is being watched with keen eyes around the world — by our friends and foes alike.” is the most powerful one in the write-up.

    Unfortunately, too many are focused on America only and give little thought to the effect our actions/decisions have on other countries. America is NOT a world in itself … yet we often act/think like it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right about that, Nan. And it isn’t only that they are too focused on America only, but they care only about America and the people (mainly the white, Christian, straight people) who live here. What happens in Uganda or Ukraine matters not a whit to them, for they fail to understand that there is but one earth and we are all inhabitants of it. What happens in one nation will always affect the rest of the world as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, the opinion piece is spot on, and echoes my beer group’s comments of the other night. The bitterness is greater as we remind ourselves that other citizens deliberately voted these folks in, and that we’re paying for this clown show through our taxes. Although we as liberals smugly enjoy the schadenfreude because it vindicates our views of the GOP’s dynamics and governing skill, we’re disturbed about the vision they rouse about how the next two years will play out. Hugs and cheers, M

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right … we may roll our eyes and smugly critique the Republican clown show, but at the end of the day, it is our very foundation that is crumbling. I foresee chaos for the next two years, and whatever comes after that will depend on whether the people of this country are willing to put their own personal pettiness aside for a while and do what’s right for the nation, for the world. I have my doubts, Michael. Sigh. Hugs ‘n cheers to you, dear friend.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. To be sure, crooks, cranks, and malevolent embarrassments have not been the exclusive purview of any one political party over the years. The nature of democracy is that it can be very messy.
    The truth in this statement is that, improperly managed, democracy can be messy — but properly managed it will likely not be. Democracy in the US has not been properly managed for years, if ever, but the last decade or so it has been so poorly managed as to say it is completely out of control. Especially where the Republicans are supposed to be governers, they do not pass the acid test. They govern, if that is what it is called, on behalf of some minorities — in particular the minority we call the wealthy, but also the minorities we call straight white males, Evangelicals, and rabid gun owners and manufacturers. Overall these are not WE THE PEOPLE! But looking from outside, it certainly seems We the People count for nothing anymore, while the aforesaid minorities are fawned over and coddled.
    As of this writing Kevin McCarthy has succeeded in losing 10 votes for Speaker of the House. Give up, Kevin, you are not Speaker material! Step aside, and let the House find someone who is.
    In Canada the Speaker of the House is a powerless position; obviously this is not true in the States. So I guess the Seat is a prize. But after 10 losses, it’s over.
    Is he going to let reality soak in, or is he going to go down whimpering and puling till he has lost whatever honour he might have ever had?
    The world is watching! And we are not amused…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sadly, government … any and all government … is run by humans who are flawed creatures, who do not all have compassion for others, who are not all intelligent, and who are driven by their own whims and desires. Thus, you’ll never find a perfect government. A system may look great on paper, but when you factor in the human psyche, it gets messy. Yes, the world is watching and we are failing. What’s next? Chaos, I suspect. Perhaps other nations will learn from our disastrous mistakes, perhaps not. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think the real problem is that such persons are not always available to be voted for, on top of which certain voters do not want to be governed by intelligent compassaionate concerned people, for some ridiculous reason. They would rather be ruled by bickering hating racists. Go figure!


  4. Pingback: Governance? I Think NOT! — Filosofa’s Word | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

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