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Republicans Revive #Forcethevote

Background: Slim Majorities and Factional Power

One of the more interesting aspects of the recent midterm elections has come from the race for control of the House. Per the most recent results (which are constantly changing), it seems as though Republicans will take back control of the House. The wrinkle comes when we consider the majority they are likely to have: a single seat (+/- 4). When it comes to electing a Speaker, a majority is required. Current Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is slated to become Speaker if the GOP takes over. Since the vote is likely to be partisan, a slim majority gives factions within the GOP majority great power. Where have we seen this before?

A Quick History of the Original #Forcethevote

You may recall a few years back that the Democrats had a slim majority in the House. This gave their factional groups, for instance the Squad, the chance to demand something for their vote. Specifically, activists for #medicareforall demanded that these Congresspeople withhold their vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker until she brought M4A to a vote on the floor. Whether due to pressure from colleagues, not wanting to rock the boat, or whatever BS reason they came up with, the Squad caved and Pelosi became Speaker. You had the chance to expose the corrupt duopoly for what it was and you blew it.

Not only did they not demand anything for their vote, but they also smeared those who then tried to hold them to account for their inaction (Jimmy Dore is a noted example). This showed their political ineptitude, yes, but I am more inclined to use the political science term Institutional Capture. This is where a new member of an institution starts out eager for reform, but is taken in and broken down by the institution. The Squad started out as quite ideological (AOC protested outside Nany Pelosi’s office) but the institution ultimately broke them down. If the recent example of the letter dealing with diplomacy in Ukraine is any example, the Squad has lost any political courage they ever had.

Old Band, New Members: The Freedom Caucus and #Forcethevote, Part One

A useful article from Fox News informs what follows. The article outlines the demands of the Freedom Caucus in this way

The Freedom Caucus is angling to include a provision within the House Rules package allowing for any member to offer at any time motion to vacate the speaker’s chair – a change it will push for assuming Republicans take control of the House.

A curious setup. Essentially, the Freedom Caucus is demanding that McCarthy, as the price for being made Speaker, ascent to a rule that could remove him from that position at any time. Talk about a crown of thorns. It is interesting that ‘any member’ [of the House] can originate such a motion. The question is how badly does McCarthy want to be Speaker? This brings to mind what happened during former Speaker John Boehner’s tenure: a similar group of hardliners held the Speaker’s position in their hands. They were ‘the power behind the throne’ and took full advantage. Boehner would eventually resign because he could not control his troops.

The Fox News article referenced above actually uses the magic phrase ‘force a vote’ in the next sentence

The parliamentary gambit would let hardline members force a vote on retaining the speaker

Interesting, is it not? The hardline members of the GOP potential majority are actually willing to force a vote on McCarthy as Speaker. Force a vote: where have I heard that before? Where have I heard the idea of withholding votes from a candidate for Speaker in exchange for policy/procedural concessions? I cannot place it.

Old Band, New Members; The Freedom Caucus and #Forcethevote, Part Two

There is a saying that power concedes nothing without a demand. These hardliners are likely to get what they want (at least in part), since career politicians obsessed with power will sell their souls to get it. The Freedom Caucus is many things, but politically unintelligent is not one of them. They know McCarthy values power over principles and are exploiting that. Why will the Squad not do the same?

Conclusion: The Lessons for The Squad

The concept that a subgroup of the GOP majority would essentially hold the would-be Speaker of the House hostage is hardly new. Hardline Republican Congresspeople have done this before. The Squad could learn a great deal from this: if you actually show the political spine to stick to your convictions, you can achieve great things. The so-called Progressives of the Democratic Party clearly lack the political spine to, as GOP Representative Andy Biggs called it ‘hold their own leadership accountable’.

In times of slim majorities, small subgroups within political parties can extract considerable concessions. The Freedom Caucus sees this. The so-called Progressives inside the Democratic Party are evidently too scared of getting offside with leadership (who already hold them in complete contempt anyway). Newsflash, you naive numpties: no amount of ‘playing ball’ is going to get you onside with the leadership. Giving them your vote does not earn you ‘brownie points’. They are, in their own minds, very much entitled to your vote. Your job, as far as they are concerned, is to fall in line and vote as Pelosi tells you. No independent thought, no protest, and certainly no colouring outside the lines. Get it through your thick skulls that they are never going to let you ‘in the club’.

Epilogue: Wearing the Inside Out

A question for the Squad: you are outsiders (indeed, you ran as outsiders) so why would you seek to get in the club? You were elected to be the brick through the establishment window, yet we find you doing little aside from useless showmanship (consider the recent letter around diplomacy in Ukraine). To be generous, I suppose it is not entirely your fault: Institutional Capture is a very real issue. But if the Republicans can, in Biggs’ words, hold their leadership to account (or at least threaten to do so – which is more than you did), I see no reason why you cannot do the same thing, Unless, of course, you are afraid.

This piece has probably come across as quite critical of the Squad, and there is some truth to this. The Republicans have set the example (here and in the past) of how to extract concessions from your leadership. The Progressives are either too politically cowardly, or they value their careers too much to rock the boat. It is fitting, I think, to end with a quote from AOC

The Republicans galvanize their base by inciting a lot of fear; they operate on a lot of mythmaking. So we have to have something compelling. We shouldn’t be afraid to be bold.

Indeed is all I have to say to that.

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6 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    First, an “ascent”, should surely be “assent”. Meaning is shaped and reshaped by such word usage. This is a small but concentrated comment in a serious outlook for USA political machinations soon. The margins illustated here count, in action, chicanery, deals, factions, etc. Perhaps the USA is in for some revised sparring with narrow wins to both sides which will count strongly at awkward but different times. Whole populations, the “voters” including those who did not, will swing and sway to a decision based on the narrowest of margins, prevailing horse trading, deep prejudices, hatreds, doctrines, whims, superstition, attitude, and, perhaps, Trump and the evil shadow of a decaying drying turd. One swinging rotten instinct and vote, and, a whole nation flops, hops, bops, drops or plops.

  2. Michael Taylor

    Trump has announced he is running again in 2024.

    The only running he is good at is running away from the law.

  3. Canguro

    And Gina the baroness of all things dug was at the Orange one’s announcement for recontention as a fit & proper person to lead the USA into the fyootcha. God bless her pinprick of a heart, that she could take time out from sitting in the vault counting her wealth to fly – by private jet no doubt – halfway across the planet to lend her support to the criminal contender. Says it all, really, in regard to where her values lie.

  4. Harry Lime

    America, home of the snake oil.land of the carpetbagger.We sit on the sidelines and watch another empire devour itself.How much blowback will Australia cop? Will Albo emerge from the chrysalis as a shining new butterfly?Or are we all going to be bullshitted until the next election?

  5. A Commentator

    1# In announcing his candidacy, Trump was effectively announcing the re-election of Biden. It’s a pity that Kamala Harris hasn’t lived up to expectations.
    2# While it’s interesting to talk about US politics, the greatest risk to peace is the rise of autocracy, particularly Putin. Today in The Hague we have more evidence of the criminality of his brutal, fascist regime

  6. wam

    The far right are scared people who will be the first to bully, the first to blame others, the first to shoot and the first to cry god and the first to hide behind lies. Only trump ‘could’ not ‘would’ lose to biden who looks well past his use by date. Two years of constant republican attacks could physically drain biden ps AC I also am sad that Kamala is a failure. AYAAN HIRSI ALI sums it up: “…with strong and successful female leaders setting an example. How sad, then, that arguably the most powerful female politician in the world embodies neither of these qualities. All America is left with is a failed black woman. And there’s nothing progressive about that.”
    pps
    Michael. did you remember the tale of pissinboots??

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