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Strong-Armed by the Two Percent: The House Speaker Debacle

The polarization we’re seeing today enlarges the influence of anti-cooperation groups in Congress. Just look at the recent speaker of the House turmoil.


On October 3rd, 2023, former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy was voted out of his position by a 216-210 decision. The vote saw all 208 present Democrats on board, in addition to eight Republicans.


The House of Representatives had to work to elect a new speaker, a process that took them 22 days. House Republicans had to cycle through four nominees to finally land on newly-elected Speaker Mike Johnson.


Representative Steve Scalise was nominated but dropped after feeling he would not get enough support to win the election. Representative Jim Jordan, the alternative candidate for Scalise, was successfully nominated but lost the general election after three rounds of voting, losing more votes as time went on. We saw Representative Tom Emmer drop out in similar fashion to Scalise. Finally, Mike Johnson was able to gather enough votes to win the speakership.


Through this debacle, we see two main issues within the Republican Party. The first is that there is a distinct lack of cohesion. One main throughline during this event was Democratic unity. No Democrat strayed from the bloc. This crucial unity is missing from House Republicans. As citizens, it is concerning to see our elected officials unable to simply vote for a position without turmoil, confusion and disarray. 


The second primary issue is the ousting of McCarthy in the first place. Representative Matt Gaetz initiated the undertaking due to displeasure that McCarthy had cooperated with Democrats. McCarthy was only voted out because a select few Republicans went against the party. In this instance, a small number of extreme representatives were able to dictate the entire proceeding.


One group, approximately 2% of the entire House, should not be able to strongarm and turn the House upside down by being upset with bipartisan efforts. Moreover, the new election of the speaker led many Republican representatives to receive death threats from the public for not supporting candidates such as Jordan, including threats on wives and children. Congressional inefficiency provokes the public and encourages vile responses such as these.


Overall, unity is necessary across the board. Our government simply cannot function if parties are refusing to work with one another, raising chaos if collaboration occurs.


Discord in government trickles down to voters and only fuels the flames of hostility and violence among the public at large.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.

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