Can Everybody Calm Down Over The Speaker’s Race? Debate Is Good, Gridlock Is Essential

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 03: U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (C) sits alongside colleagues as Representatives cast their votes for Speaker of the House on the first day of the 118th Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 03, 2023 in Washington, DC. Today members of the 118th Congress will be sworn-in and the House of Representatives will elect a new Speaker of the House.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

It’s January 4, 2023, and as of press time, the House of Representatives is without a speaker.

What’s the big deal?

Much of the Washington, D.C., political class is in hysterics because the GOP has been forced to debate over who should lead Congress — Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) or another Republican. It appears that the negotiations are now at a stalemate.

Twenty Republicans held out on Tuesday from supporting McCarthy and, in turn, were compared to petulant children and even the Taliban, according to some reports. Their demands vary from selecting a more conservative speaker focused on fiscal spending and social issues. Some, such as Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), have more specific requests involving votes on items such as term limits and border security, among other things.

So far, none of those members have budged in their stance against McCarthy.

McCarthy, for his part, insists that he is not going to step aside.

“Today, is that the day I wanted to have? No,” McCarthy told reporters late Tuesday evening, adding that dropping out of the running is “not going to happen.”

The message to the holdouts, it seems, is “get in line and shut up.”

Critics of the holdouts argue that the anti-McCarthy coalition has not offered any viable alternatives.

That is true, but the reason behind it may also be because of the way “the swamp” works. As Roy explained, D.C. doesn’t exactly reward individuals who take a stand against those in charge.

“The swamp doesn’t make for ‘fielding viable alternatives’ w/o pressure – see, e.g., threats this morning to yank people from committees who aren’t ‘in line,'” Roy tweeted. “We (conservatives) b**** about how broken DC is, but then some force a fight to change it, & people get squeamish?”

Others in the know argue that the opposition to McCarthy is personal — and that potential alternatives, such as Reps. Steve Scalise (R-LA) or Jim Jordan (R-OH), might be worse.

For example, there are those concerned that Scalise would go soft on amnesty, or that Jordan is too sympathetic to a Big Tech industry intent on crushing conservatives.

Perhaps that argument has merit, and McCarthy’s lack of ideological principles may be advantageous. If McCarthy can be convinced the way to secure power in Washington is to placate the Freedom Caucus and GOP base, then he just might be a better choice to lead Congress than any other option who is more ideologically driven, the argument goes.

One individual who initially supported the California congressman was Florida’s Byron Donalds. Donalds, an up-and-coming Republican, explained his switch via Twitter.

“The reality is Rep. Kevin McCarthy doesn’t have the votes,” he tweeted. “I committed my support to him publicly and for two votes on the House Floor. 218 is the number, and currently, no one is there. Our conference needs to recess and huddle and find someone or work out the next step but these continuous votes aren’t working for anyone.”

McCarthy lost three rounds of votes Tuesday. More votes are expected today. In effect, Donalds is calling on the party to meet back at the table and work this out rather than continuing as normal.

Some have fretted that Republicans may be pushed out of the speaker’s office completely if this trend continues.

Yet the idea that a Democrat would wind up speaker is nonsensical — no Republican will vote for Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) unless they want to commit political suicide.

This point was made evident by Donalds, who offered a sensible take on the situation at hand.

“When the dust settles, we will have a Republican Speaker, now is the time for our conference to debate and come to a consensus,” he added. “This will take time, Democracy is messy at times, but we will be ready to govern on behalf of the American people. Debate is healthy.”

The point of this column is not to say that McCarthy shouldn’t be speaker, nor is it to dismiss the idea that there is a better alternative, rather it’s to say that gridlock is good. Readers should also remember that the same scenario is currently playing out in the Republican National Committee’s race with Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel versus California attorney Harmeet Dhillon.

This shouldn’t be taken as simply noise — it is evidence that there are Republicans who hear the discontent of their supporters and want to make a change.

Yet change for the mere sake of doing something different is silly, and only meaningful change can be had after a debate weighing the pros and cons of potential paths.

On the other hand, Democrats are fine with coronating leaders without critical thinking, but the sign that conservatives insist on having a lengthy process is welcoming.

It means there are critical thinkers on the Right, something that the Left lacks.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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