Let’s take a trip down memory lane starting from Kevin McCarthy’s successful bid to become Speaker of the House to our current state of affairs in US governance. After four days and fourteen failed tries, on the 15th try, Kevin McCarthy became Speaker of the House. It has been more than 150 years since it took more than 12 rounds of voting to select a Speaker. And in the process of winning the job, Kevin McCarthy managed to sell his soul to six extreme rightwing House members. Those six members held Kevin McCarthy and the other 215 Republican House members hostage until Mr. McCarthy made himself the weakest Speaker of the House in the history of congress.
He did this by way of bargaining away to those six hostage-takers virtually all the power of the Speaker: power that has customarily been used by Speakers to help control caucus members during stressful, tough, and extensive negotiations and shepherd controversial but necessary legislation through the bill-to-law process. Mr. McCarthy did this based mainly on his selfish lust to hold the Speaker’s gavel and advance his personal political ambitions. And he apparently did this without any regard for the sanctity of the institution.
Some information in this article is obviously old news since Mr. McCarthy has been Speaker of the House for slightly more than two months now but it is worth writing to help those of you who are not constant consumers of cable news better understand what the new Republican Party is all about. Among the main things that have happened since Mr. McCarthy has been speaker is that the House established a committee called the “Weaponization of the Federal Government” subcommittee. This committee is chaired by Representative Jim Jordan and its task is to “investigate how the executive branch collects information on and investigates U.S. citizens ‘including ongoing criminal investigations.’”
Hey, wait! Isn’t Jim Jordan somehow mixed up in the January 6 insurrection and is a potential person of interest and even a possible target in this ongoing litigation? And isn’t he a staunch Trump ally and MAGA man? Well surprise, surprise… Very, very interesting. Of course, we all know that he would not use any information he might gather regarding this ongoing litigation to help his own case. And if he would not do that, then certainly he would not share any of it with Mr. Trump or any of the “patriots,” so called by Republicans, who were involved in the insurrection in order to help their case.
Having said that, I believe that we all can agree that the name of this committee is a misnomer because it is obvious that its real purpose is to obfuscate issues and mislead the public. The actual name of the committee should be The Jim Jordan Committee because this would accurately reflect its real purpose. In the meantime, while the chaos of this subcommittee is going on, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has given Fox News’ Tucker Carlson exclusive access to more than 41,000 hours of the January 6 riot tapes. What’s that all about?!
Anyway, another thing that he has done is to give many, if not all, of these previously mentioned hostage-takers positions on coveted committees that are strongly sought after by all members of the Republican caucus. For example, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. Representative Matt Gaetz is on the Armed Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Representative Lauren Boebert serves on the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Oversight and Accountability as does Representative Paul Gosar.
Since Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene serves on the Committee on Homeland Security, that makes it even more disturbing that she has suggested dividing America into red and blue states and giving Jacob Chansley, the QAnon Shaman, a new trial, especially since he never had a trial but pled guilty to the charges leveled against him.
At the beginning of this article I said that we would take a trip down memory lane starting from Kevin McCarthy’s successful bid to become Speaker of the House to our current state of affairs in US governance. Well, although the following is not directly related to Mr. McCarthy becoming Speaker, it is worth noting that Republican legislatures throughout America are making it harder for Americans to vote by passing laws based on Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him because it was rife with voter fraud. Mr. Trump’s popularity is waning but he is still very popular overall in the Republican party and especially with its extreme rightwing constituents. Voters need to consider what is happening around America legislatively now because the 2024 election will soon be upon us.
A couple of prime examples of how the enthusiasm for legislative action associated with Mr. Trump, his popularity despite the “Big Lie,” and his style of governing is occurring in Florida and Georgia. Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis is running Florida like he is the dictator of his own little piece of America. He has taken away Disney World’s long held authority to self-govern because they have dared to disagree with him on certain issues and awarded that responsibility to himself. For a long time now, he has been banning various books, dictating to pre-K – college educators what curriculum they can teach and mandating that they use only specific approved pronouns when addressing their male and female students.
In Georgia, that legislature has passed a bill that puts the power to fire “rogue” prosecutors that they don’t like or who might disagree with them in their own hands even though some of those legislators are potential persons of interests or targets of at least one of these so called “rogue” prosecutors. This bill has already passed in the Georgia Senate and is on its way to the House. If it passes there, Governor Kemp is expected to sign it.
Democracy in America is under attack by the Republican Party. Unfortunately, even those Republican politicians who stood firm against Mr. Trump’s “Big Lie” and refused to say that the 2020 election was stolen from him are in support of what Georgia is doing. Silence is complicity! The entire Republican Party is involved in this attack on our democracy and they must be called out for it. To stand strong in one moment and relent, whether explicitly or tacitly, in the next is not acceptable. Those who stood strong against Mr. Trump’s “Big Lie” but are now supporting the Republicans attack on the American democracy must not be labeled heroes because they are not.
Finally, if you do not live in the state of Georgia, you might be thinking, that’s an entirely different state so that doesn’t impact on me. What legislators in Georgia do is none of my concern. Think again. All of us – whether we are Democrats, Republicans, or Independents, must remember that the attacks on Roe v. Wade began at the state level and those waging that battle while more and more states joined in, fought relentlessly until Roe was, as impossible as it may have seemed, finally overturned.
What the legislature in Georgia is doing puts the entire democratic system in jeopardy as Republicans push America toward authoritarian rule. This encompasses all Americans and includes the legislative and judicial branches of government. Even the very comfortable, rightwing super-majority Supreme Court should be wary of the monster that they are helping to create by conducting themselves like politicians in black robes rather than the apolitical Justices that they are supposed to be. They may be able to control this monster right now but as it feeds on the destruction of democracy it will eventually grow stronger. And it will continue to grow stronger until it is strong enough to tell those who created it to stand down or be put down. You don’t believe it? I give you the former “The Donald J. Trump of the United States of America.”
The Republican Party, if they are being true to themselves, know that this is the case. Recent history reveals that they were not able to control Mr. Trump and, as a result of their poor judgment, are continuing to pay a steep political price. But at this point, as the Republican Party tries to rebuild itself, it is struggling with the decision as to whether it should gamble on the chance that this time it will be different. That this time they will have put things into place that will give them the advantage that they did not have with Mr. Trump, which will enable them to control their creation; that they can eat their cake and have it too.
Most Americans know that this will not work. They know that manipulating things in a democracy so that things will always turn out as they want them to is not a democracy at all because in a democracy, no one gets everything that they want. Since all of us know that this is true, let’s stop the shenanigans now. Let’s vote those politicians who would destroy our democracy out of office and replace them with those who will still fight for their constituents but always stand up for democracy and the American way of life.
There is no doubt that we can do this through the power of our vote. But first, we must always work hard, in perpetuity, to assure that we are not stripped of this power systematically or otherwise. So always remember, whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, your vote is the most important one of all…unless you don’t use it!
Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line