Boehner’s Exit is Bitter-Sweet


With Speaker of the House John Boehner’s stunning announcement to leave Congress within a matter of months, the political and media elites have gone wild in pointing the finger at GOP division. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi commented as soon as the news broke that his resignation is “a stark indication of the disarray of House Republicans.”

Contrary to the usual faux-warnings that the GOP is in decline, what this story actually tells us is quite simply one man’s desire to leave, and a party ready to move on.

No doubt, there are members of the House Republican caucus who are absolutely disgusted with the Republican leadership. Just this week, the House Freedom Caucus, representing the most conservative members of the chamber, endorsed longshot candidate Daniel Webster (R-FL) for Speaker, over establishment favorite Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who just decided to drop out of the race and remain as Majority Leader. Amidst the bickering, however, comes the truth: the Speaker would have been reelected to his post despite these members. While not as much of a media sensationalized story, Boehner was merely tired, worn out by the job, and felt it time to leave. Past quotes from Boehner reveal that he was planning on stepping down for months, and so this was simply the time he seized on that opportunity.

House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the Speaker’s race today in part due to his disastrously-framed comments on Benghazi, which suggested that the congressional investigation into the Benghazi terror attacks was politically motivated to hurt Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Not only is this not true, but it also speaks to the political inability for McCarthy to unite a rowdy GOP caucus and reveals that he never quite met the test for Speaker. Sure, the Democrats might have coronations for Speaker; in fact, they are doing that right now with Hillary Clinton for president! But we are not them, nor should we be. So while the media’s favorite game is to blame GOP dysfunction, I would say that being Speaker is a tough job, and I’m not at all surprised that it will take a fight to find a successor. In fact, in a party of ideas like the GOP, a party full of individualists and free-thinkers, I would expect nothing less.

In all honesty, it is time for new blood outside the current leadership team. On the one hand, Speaker Boehner led the Republicans to have their largest majority in the House since the early twentieth century. On the other, however, not much went the GOP’s way in terms of legislation. Obamacare is still the law, Planned Parenthood is still funded, and there was no significant deal to cut government spending. In fact, since Boehner rose to power, the national debt has increased by nearly four trillion dollars, according to the Department of Treasury.

Throughout the last several months, several damning videos were leaked showing the nation’s largest abortion provider doing its work – in the most graphic of details. The videos show potential crimes being committed by Planned Parenthood, and at the very least, the butchering of the most innocent members of the American family. And what does our government do? As of now, not a thing.

When Republicans control one of three branches of government, it is often curious as to why they seem to be so ineffective at doing their jobs. It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who called budgets “moral documents,” and presidential candidate Carly Fiorina who claimed the issue of life speaks to the very “character of our nation.” If the GOP does not even have enough courage to put forth a spending proposal that stops taxpayer funding of murder, the question becomes, what does it have the courage to do? Again, the Speaker likely gave it his best shot, and so this issue is more than about just one man. It seems as if the Republican caucus as a whole has less fire-in-the-belly than do the Americans who continually elect them to serve as the opposition party. Part of that includes actually opposing Democratic priorities, not meekly capitulating and following along.

It is no wonder why Republicans all across the nation are rallying behind outsiders like Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina. Americans are sick of the go-along-to-get-along mentality in Washington. I will admit that irrationally hating the “establishment” in Washington is often what far-right (and far-left) groups will do to make a quick buck at the expense of the legislative process. But when absolutely nothing goes our way, it seems many of these groups have a point. If no governing will be taking place anyways, I don’t see the harm in shutting down government. In fact, when the government shut down in 1995 and 1996, the GOP became the first re-elected House Republican majority since 1928. And when the government was closed again in 2013, the midterms of 2014 led to nationwide Republican victories. If I were a betting man, I’d certainly take those odds.

Speaker Boehner has always described himself as a “regular guy with a big job.” In all sincerity, he’s right. Speaker Boehner is a good man, one of deep faith and admirable love for America. However, as even he himself has admitted, it was time to leave. While he will surely be missed, it’s time for the GOP to turn the page, and start racking up some wins in their column. The American people did not give them a record majority for nothing. While the President will always stand in their way, perhaps another House leader can be more successful in managing the tricky negotiations with congressional Democrats and the White House. It’s at least worth a shot.

This article presents the views of author Michael Khan, not necessarily those of the Georgetown University College Republicans or GUCR Board. This piece belongs solely to Mr. Khan and cannot be reproduced in any way without his express consent. For more GUCR updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

From Hope To Terrorism: How Kenya’s Police Reforms Failed And Why It Matters

Kenyan Police Officers Cash Protestors in Nairobi, Jan 2008

Police Officers Cash Protestors in Nairobi, Jan 2008

Good governance is crucial for a state to be stable, for peace and justice to reign. A police force that respects human rights, upholds the law, and maintains a culture of ethics and transparency is a critical cog in the well of good governance. Following the violent post election crisis of 2007-08, Kenya had a unique opportunity to showcase to the world how bold institutional reforms of their police service could play a pivotal role in reconciliation and rebuilding of a country through the empowerment of their people and newly established trust between community members and their local police.

Kenya failed. The world should pay attention to the lessons learned if states are serious about winning the “War on Terror.”

Kenya was thrown into its violent post-election crisis 2007-08 after incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, an ethnic Kikuyu, was declared the winner in a close race against opposition candidate Raila Odinga with support from ethnic Luois and Kalenjins. Electoral fraud and manipulation was reported by both sides. Luos and Kalenjins started violent rampages against Kikuyus, unleashing retributive ethnic violence.

Over 59 days, 1,133 people were killed and 118,000 displaced before a power-sharing agreement was struck February 28, 2008. According to Amnesty International research, during the crisis the government responded with “excessive police force, killing and injuring protestors and raping and sexually assaulting women and girls, particularly in opposition areas.”[1] The Independent Medico-Legal Unit reported in 2011 that 54% of all cases of torture in Kenya were directly caused by Kenyan Police Service (KPS) and 7% by Administrative Police Service (APS).[2]

The newly formed Government of National Unity drafted a Constitution approved by referendum in 2010 and subsequently passed three major legislative achievements mandating institutional police reform to hold police officers responsible for human rights violations accountable and ensure another crisis would never be repeated.

The National Police Services Act 2011 merged KPS and APS under one National Police Service (NPS). Despite intended integration, there remains a breakdown in the command structure as KPS and APS continue to function as separate entities issuing conflicting orders and focusing on “self-preservation and caution rather than on professional policing responses,” according to UN advisor Kempe Ronald Hope Sr.[3]

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) Act of November 2011 created a civilian oversight committee to handle complaints against police officers and conduct investigations to strengthen accountability of NPS. Though civilian oversight is needed to establish a positive relationship between communities and NPS, IPOA has often been boxed out by an executive branch hostile to implementing reforms and has regularly seeded high profile cases to a politicized and biased executive branch, thus reducing IPOA’s own credibility in the public’s eyes.

The National Police Services Commission Act 2011 (NPSC) tasks NPSC as an independent recruitment process for police and vetting of current officers amongst other duties.[4] NPSC was established in 2012, but due to bureaucratic delays vetting of active-duty police officers did not begin until December 2013.[5] As of January 2015, only 198 senior officers were vetted with 10 being found unsuitable to serve and 7 officers successfully appealing compared to 80,000 total officers waiting to be vetted. [6]

While legal codes are being adequately updated thanks to the help of NGOs and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), police officers are still often unaware of changes and operating under old procedures. While some case studies exemplify success in upgrading police operational capacities to suitable levels, empirical evidence on a national scale is lacking. Corruption within NPS remains a serious problem. Cases of engagement and cooperation with the public in implementing reforms has lead to lowering of crime rates, increasing public confidence and information provided to police; however, cases of success have not been replicated nationwide.

The executives of President Kibaki and current President Uhuru Kenyatta have even actively sought to roll-back reforms or side-step laws, often in the name of the “War on Terror.”

An anti-terrorism law was passed in December 2014 which allowed police to hold suspects for a year without charge, increased sentences, and threatened journalists with three years in prison if they undermined “investigations or security operations relating to terrorism.”[7] Although the courts struck down its major provisions in February 2015, Kenyatta continues to aggressively push to dismantle the professionalization of the police, facing little significant parliamentary opposition.

In December 2014, Al-Jazeera released a 60-minute documentary interviewing four anti-terrorism police unit ATPU officers and uncovering illegal “death squads” commanded by the national security council, including the President.[8] Kenya could avoid carrying out assassinations of radical Muslim clerics allegedly working with al-Shabaab if they prioritized implementing reforms so police officers could properly handle chain of evidence and radical clerics would not have their cases dismissed in Court due to irregularities. . Instead, these assassinations are fermenting distrust among the public and the Muslim community, which in turn aids Al- Shabaab’s recruiting efforts.

The April 2, 2015 terrorist attack on Garissa University serves as an example of Kenyatta’s push to evade institutional reforms in the name of the “War on Terror.” Kenyatta ordered 10,000 recruits from July, 2014 to report to duty on April 12, 2015 in response. The NPSC had previously ignored IPOA which regarded the recruitment as corrupt due to “irregularities, bribery, nepotism, and favoritism.”[9] The High Court sided with the IPOA before the April 2 attack and the NPSC lost its appeal on May 8, 2015. Kenyatta was thus bypassing the ruling and the IPOA; the recruits were dismissed at the appeal. The President’s disregard for the law threatens not only police institutional reforms, but the safeguarding of democracy in Kenya.

Because of the lack of political will to implement legislated reforms, Kenya is likely to continue seeing an increase of terrorism. Kenya now represents a warning sign to the rest of the world of the need for strong institutionalized justice system linked to an ethical police force.

Kenya was once a country that could have demonstrated to the world how fermenting trust between an ethical police force and community members would lead to high crime convictions, lower crime rates, reduction in terrorism recruitment, and increase stability, peace, and justice throughout the country. Today, Kenya serves as another drop in the bucket case of government bypassing the rule of law and taking easy short cuts to fight terrorism which in the end only catalyze the plague of terror.


[1] “Police Reform in Kenya: ‘A Drop in the Ocean,’” Amnesty International, (2013), 7.

[2] Ibid., 17.

[3] Kempe Ronald Hope, Sr., “In pursuit of democratic policing: An analytical review and assessment of police reforms in Kenya,” International Journal of Police Science & Management, Vol. 17(2), (March 13, 2015), 95.

[4] Amnesty International, 9.

[5] “From Force to Service: Engaging Kenyans in Police Reforms,” International Center for Transitional Justice, (January 29, 2015).

[6] Ibid.

[7] “KENYA: Controversial Security Bill,” Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural Series, Vol. 51, no. 12, (January 19, 2015).

[8] Kris Jepson, “Inside Kenya’s Death Squads,” Al Jazeera, (December 7, 2014).

[9] Tessa Diphoorn and Tom Kagwe, “The State Against the State #Anthrostate,” Allegra Lab, (June 8, 2015).

This essay presents the views of author Alexander Bobroske, not necessarily those of the Georgetown University College Republicans or GUCR Board. This piece belongs solely to Mr. Bobroske and cannot be reproduced in any way without his express consent. For more GUCR updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

What’s Wrong With ‘The Establishment’?


Since presidential speculation began, news headlines like “Rise of the anti-establishment presidential candidates,” “Is the Republican Establishment Losing Control of the Party?” and “Don’t Count Out the Anti-Establishment Republicans” have peppered newspapers across the country. Data seems to support these articles as Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina–all of whom have never held elected office–currently lead the GOP presidential field in the majority of national polls. After countless discussions with other Republicans, I cannot understand why this is the case.

When then-Senator Barack Obama was elected to office, one Republican criticism that was both valid and important to address was that Obama was too inexperienced to lead in a presidential capacity. And yet, while Obama had three years of congressional background under his belt, not to mention a number of years in the Illinois State Senate, the three leading GOP presidential candidates have a combined zero years of political experience between them.

News outlets and pollsters have cited a growing anti-establishment theme as the primary cause for the ascendancy of Trump, Carson, and Fiorina. This anti-establishmentism is frequently described as a reaction to GOP politicians’ inability to push major conservative reforms through a Republican congressional majority in both houses. Others say they simply want to elect a candidate who will ‘wreak havoc’ in Washington D.C. I would like to address both of these points.

First, while Republican voters should be frustrated with Congress’s inability to pass conservative reforms, Republican voters’ expectations have also been unrealistic. The two most frequently mentioned ‘reforms’ Republican voters were expecting their GOP Congress to implement were the repeal of Obamacare and the limiting of abortion.

Let’s start with Obamacare. What some Republican voters do not realize is that the GOP Senate does not have enough of a majority to repeal Obamacare entirely. Most measures to attack the healthcare law would require 60 votes, which would in turn require Democratic senators to cooperate. This is highly unlikely even though this group of liberal senators in particular is constantly whining about partisanship in the Senate. What is frustrating, however, is that the Republican Party and its congressional representatives have not yet created a comprehensive, clear, well-publicized plan to replace Obamacare. Whether it’s a return to the status quo before Obamacare or a new plan altogether, Republicans need to have something to replace it with, which they do not have yet.

The question as to why they have not crafted an Obamacare replacement is unclear and should anger voters, but voters must understand it would take a large staff working full-time on nothing but healthcare to do so. As the last few weeks show with the Pope’s visit, President Xi Jinping’s visit, the Planned Parenthood fiasco, and a possible government shutdown over budgetary concerns, our representatives have innumerable short-term commitments and emergencies that demand their attention. Repealing Obamacare will be a long-term project with small victories along the way, but in the meantime, representatives have several other things to address.

In a similar fashion, more should have been done by now to address abortions in the United States. Perhaps defunding Planned Parenthood will be a first step, though it seems unlikely at this point, but it is fair to be upset that the GOP Congress has not done anything yet. What would be incorrect, however, would be to expect a slim majority in Congress to achieve this completely on its own.

On the want of the GOP electorate for a candidate who will ‘wreak havoc’ and throw things off in Washington, I am confused. A president’s job is not to destabilize the workings of Congress and the federal government, as we’ve seen in the past eight years. In fact, it is the exact opposite: the purpose of the presidency is to facilitate cooperation between the executive branch, its agencies, and the legislative branch. We are not electing a revolutionary to the White House, so why some Republican voters swear by some candidates for their ability to shake things up is not convincing to me.

Despite all this, three ‘anti-establishment’ candidates currently lead the GOP field. What they lack in political experience, they make up for with controversial and unfeasible policy statements. 2016 should not be the year of the anti-establishment, and political experience should be encouraged among candidates. Conservative candidates with previous elected political positions have valuable experience that makes them good candidates for the presidency. They know how the government works, they know how Congress works, and they know how government agencies interact.

I do not mind it if Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina contribute to the presidential debate and shaping the future of policy. However, GOP voters will be making a mistake in considering them their primary candidates for the presidency.

This article presents the views of author Cole Horton, not necessarily those of the Georgetown University College Republicans or GUCR Board. This piece belongs solely to Mr. Horton and cannot be reproduced in any way without his express consent. For more GUCR updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.