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.