Most people understand that our government needs to be more efficient and effective. The Tea Party grew feverishly in 2009 because of concerns over high taxes and government spending, helping to win a majority in the House of Representatives and many state legislatures in the 2010 elections.
I know there are problems with our government. Farmers and other constituents remind me of this on occasion, and I’m sympathetic to their concerns. There are ways within our system to approach these sorts of challenges and make things better. I love our country, and our government has provided the political, economic, and social environments that fostered the freedom and prosperity that we all enjoy. I would like to be a part of that ongoing tradition and a part of the solution to tackle today’s challenges. .
The Tea Party victory in 2010 caused a major shift in our government. Not only did it give Republicans control of the House, it also put Republicans in solid control of many state houses and governorships across the country. This made it possible for strong gerrymandering of Congressional districts in those states, especially in the South. This was manifest in the 2012 and 2014 elections. Many Republicans who were deemed not “conservative” enough were challenged in the primary elections lost their seats to less-than-moderate Republicans who toed the hyper-conservative line. Cue now: The Freedom Caucus, a group of about 40 House Republicans.
What does the Freedom Caucus exactly stands for?
The Freedom Caucus stands for a number of things such as denial of climate change, a hard line on immigration, ferocious opposition of any form of gun control, and a near-resolute unwillingness to compromise, especially with Democrats. The United States is a free country. People are free to express their opinions and fight for their own beliefs in different ways, but it’s this last item, an unwillingness to compromise, that is the root of the immediate dysfunction in Congress. The Freedom Caucus seems intent to dictate to the rest of Congress and to the country.
The Freedom Caucus is staunchly opposed to advancing any legislation in the House of Representatives that disagrees with their conservative principles. The Speaker of the House has the power to move any legislation to the House floor for a vote, but the Speaker must be elected by a majority of the House of Representatives.
Electing a new Speaker
There are 247 Republicans and 188 Democrats in the House. With this kind of a majority, the Republicans should easily be able to elect a Speaker. Yet, when the 40 members of the Freedom Caucus refuse to vote for any member who seeks to compromise with the Democrats, a so-called moderate Republican, and the remaining 207 Republican members are not willing to vote for a Freedom Caucus-endorsed candidate, the Republican a Majority is left paralyzed, unable to elect a Speaker. Even if all 188 Democrats voted for a single Democrat, they are far short of having the votes to elect a Speaker. Therefore, we have a stalemate.
Speaker Boehner knows this all too well. It often hinders Boehner and makes it difficult for him to bring legislation to the House floor that will anger the Freedom Caucus, even if it clearly has enough votes to pass. This includes the comprehensive immigration legislation heard in the previous Congress, and the reauthorization of the Export Import Bank. Both proposals would pass if brought to the House Floor. Furthermore, Mr. Boehner recently announced his resignation before the Freedom Caucus could force a new vote for Speaker, when it was uncertain if he had the votes to win.
Now, nearly a month after the race for Speaker began, Americans are left with more questions than answers when it comes to Republicans and their ability to govern. Perhaps some voters are sensing a poor return on the investment they made back in 2009. It’s uncertain when this Republican imbroglio will clear itself up or if the Freedom Caucus will continue to hold the Republican leadership hostage and bring devastating results such as defaulting on our nation’s debt, hurting millions of hardworking Americans in the process.