Have any of these intransigent members even thought about the question: “And then what?”
By Newt Gingrich
I am writing after the U.S. House of Represntatives has recessed following three failed efforts to elect a new Speaker. While this is a sad, frustrating, and unsettling situation for the Republican Party – not to mention for the conservative movement and the challenges we face as a nation – this is a long way from the record for speaker frustration.
In 1923 it took nine ballots. Back in 1855 it took 133 ballots and two months to pick a speaker. (The parties were disintegrating under the pressures of slavery and anti-slavery bitterness, which ultimately led to the Civil War).
However, in the age of television, the frustration and pressures build more rapidly.
There is no easy answer to the current disaster. By a little better than a 10-to-1 margin, 202 House GOP members have stayed with Kevin McCarthy (right,) through each successive ballot, while only 20 have voted against him.
In a normal, healthy political party, you would think that a 10-to-1 margin would be definitive. However, for the 20 deranged disrupters causing pain to their own party, the chaos seems to be an enjoyable hobby.
It's a little like watching someone burn down their own home so they can enjoy the fire. You wonder if any of these intransigent members have answered – or even thought about – the question: “And then what?”
Meanwhile, Democrat House Minority Leader Hakim Jeffries, and his extraordinarily effective predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, are happily watching Republicans melt down in front of the entire country like a group of tired toddlers (this will undoubtedly be the most watched speaker election in history).
While the House Republicans seem to be absorbed in infighting, the Senate Republicans seem to be increasingly split between a traditional Republican majority and a Biden-Republican minority. The key bills (which about one–fifth to one–third of Senate Republicans have partnered with Democrats to pass) have been especially painful. The conservative movement and the majority of Republican voters, activists and donors opposed those bills. The reality of the Biden-Republican Senate wing was obvious as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Joe Biden met in Kentucky to celebrate the $1.63 billion bridge across the Ohio River which was contained in the nearly $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
Nothing irritates and angers conservatives and traditional Republicans more than watching their elected officials join a bipartisan media event to celebrate taking tens of billions of dollars from taxpayers to spend on politically directed infrastructure.
As the House seems in crisis and the Senate seems to be evolving with a new Biden-Republican swing group, the average Republican is forced to contemplate the potential for the most divisive presidential nominating race since the 1964 Barry Goldwater-Nelson Rockefeller bitterness. That race split the party and led to a disaster (only 32 GOP Senate seats and only 140 House seats).
The potential for a bitter Donald Trump vs. never-Trump nominating process is real. The possibility that President Trump would run as a third-party candidate if he lost the nomination is incredibly real.
So, there are a lot of good reasons for rational Republicans and thoughtful conservatives to enter 2023 with a troubling sense.
A lot has to be sorted out if we are to save the country from the disasters of Big Government Socialism and Wokeism.
Newt Gingrich served as the 50th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. Well known as the architect of the “Contract with America” that led the Republican Party to victory in 1994, he helped create the first conservative majority in the House in 40 years. He was a Republican candidate for President of the United States in 2012.