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5 Oct, 2023 22:01

MAGA power rocks the US establishment

The McCarthy drama shows that a small band of representatives can actually change things in Washington – even if all it leads to is chaos
MAGA power rocks the US establishment

Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy just got ousted from his post as the third-highest constitutional officer in Washington after a contingent of Republican lawmakers joined Democrats to remove him.

While the details of this situation are, to be honest, pretty hilarious and indicate a lack of a serious plan by those GOP members, it also reveals what’s possible if elected representatives in America actually hold the establishment’s feet to the fire.

First, a word on what happened. In a nutshell, Florida Representative Matt Gaetz forced a vote on a motion to vacate the office of the speaker after threatening to do so last week because McCarthy apparently acquiesced to Democrats by passing a bipartisan temporary spending bill, funding the government through November 17 and narrowly avoiding a government shutdown.

Where it goes from there is not fully detailed yet, but some emerging reports from the right-wing press, such as Fox News, suggest that even the Republicans who joined Gaetz, first of all, weren’t even sure of their own votes until the very moment they cast them. They also don’t seem to have any sort of plan at all.

Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry adjourned the House, since pretty much the only thing he can do is form a session to specifically vote for a new speaker (this has never happened before and the rules are vague). With the House adjourned, no congressional hearings can happen, subpoenas can’t go through, and committees can’t convene. This is telling because the same Republicans who ousted McCarthy are also leading an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden. Without a speaker, the impeachment process is halted. 

Given this, it was foolish for these lawmakers to vote out McCarthy. And that’s especially the case when it took nearly two months of negotiations to install him in the first place back in January. Now, there’s no telling where things will go or how long it will take to cut deals and find a new speaker. If it takes even the same amount of time as before, then a government shutdown would be inevitable. That level of dysfunction from the GOP is not only poor governance but also bad politics, since it would allow Democrats to look good by contrast.

“Follow your heart, but take your brain with you. The American people expect us to govern. I also advise my House colleagues to be sure and take your meds,” Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, a Republican, said to the press after McCarthy was booted. 

At the same time, this situation demonstrates quite clearly that the establishment – especially during a period of intense partisan divide – is not truly safe. Even powerful figures such as McCarthy can be dethroned by a small contingent of representatives. That shows that people like Jimmy Dore, a well-known YouTube personality, are unfortunately correct for once. The so-called comedian called on progressives to refuse to vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker when Democrats controlled the House until a vote was taken on Medicare for All. It turns out he was completely correct on that.

If ‘The Squad’ (a team of relatively young Democratic lawmakers who got into the House on a super-progressive platform) had any backbone, as Gaetz and his gang of rebels have shown, they could have forced a vote on that important issue and many others. They certainly could have squeezed out concessions from Pelosi and the political establishment, making her understand that her position on the pedestal is contingent on the support of progressives and not the other way around. The fact that they, who are supposed to be more savvy and calculated than the MAGA mutineers, didn’t do that indicates, at the very least, a lack of commitment to the values that got them elected. 

For their part, the MAGA wing of the Republican Party is making waves: they have made Ukraine funding a hot-button issue, censured Rep. Adam Schiff (a mortal enemy of their cause), put ‘the border’ and fake allegations of election fraud front and center, shouldered out establishment Republicans such as Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney, and they’re building their own media ecosystem. Even though their self-imposed speaker debacle clearly lacks any serious intent, MAGA is flexing its muscles – even if, at times, for nothing.

Will those who are supposedly fighting for the working class in Congress ever exert the same pressure? Doubtful, and it’s also doubtful if these people have any serious commitment to doing that in the first place, since they have the very same tools as Gaetz and his friends yet refuse to wield them. Undoubtedly, however, the political situation in the US is getting a whole hell of a lot more interesting.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.