Learning From The Past: Why House Leadership Fighting Is So Detrimental

Party fight is not good for the nation


When did governing become a bad word?

When I was a reporter just starting my career in Texas I had the chance to cover my first member of Congress at the launch of his political career in Washington, D.C.

Dick Armey served suburban Dallas at the start of his congressional career in 1985, and I had a chance to cover him for two different publications. Armey would often stop by the newspaper office on his swing through the district, and I would seem he during his campaign or at events.

Armey was as right wing as they come, and the joke was that he was right of Attila the Hun. He later become Majority Leader and worked with Newt Gingrich for the Contract to America that helped Republicans take over the House in 1994.

There was a lot of turmoil with the Republican House in the 1990s and power struggle for the leadership positions much as we see today with Speaker John Boehner departing. Now that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has taken his name out of consideration for Speaker, turmoil has ensued.

The far right wing has rejected governing and only wants a speaker with having a philosophy of shutting down the government and not funding government debt unless they get what they want from President Obama and Democrats. Even if they get former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan as speaker, the far right won't give up that strategy.

That's what made it so difficult for Ryan to accept the job, knowing that at some point he'll alienate this segment and jeopardizing any bid of his for higher office in the future.

No one should be surprised by what's happening.

This scene was set in the fall of 2008 when Barack Obama was on his way to winning the election over John McCain. A populist movement against the Wall Street bailout and election of Obama was taking shape. When the GOP lost in 2008, they tried to use it to its advantage by cultivating it.

I joking referred to that group as the Ron Paulites, and it later became known as the Tea Party. It was the same group that chased after Fox News Sean Hannity when Paul was excluded from a Republican debate.

The group made itself known and wielded power that helped Republicans sweep the House in 2010. The GOP should have retaken the Senate but the extremist positions led to the nomination of right-wing Senate candidates who couldn't win in the general election.

You could see it coming from a mile away in 2008 and in 2012 that face of the party moved presidential candidate Mitt Romney so far right that it cost him a chance at the election against Obama. The Tea Party also cost the GOP the Senate in 2012 because of the extremist candidates they nominated.

That would change as you expected when the establishment fought back and sought more mainstream candidates that could win the Senate in 2014.

That victory led us to today where the far right wing has fought back because they haven't gotten the agenda enacted into law that they've sought. They want Obamacare gone, impeach Obama, and government to do nothing it seems.

They're agenda isn't really clear because spending has fallen and the annual budget deficits have declined. Job growth has taken place and the stock market has improved. People are still angry because in part their wages have been stagnant and they just can't stand Obama on a personal level. They blame him for everything wrong in the world and that they're unhappy about.

The GOP promises them they will end Obamacare and do this and that but they're lying because nothing could change with Obama still in office and 60 votes required to get anything approved in the Senate. Republicans brought this on themselves.

This leads us to a point you could see coming with Obama's election in 2008 - 2016 at the end of Obama's term would be a watershed for the Republican Party and likely the demise of it in its current form.

We're at that point now with the House likely to be rudderless and maybe leading to a government shutdown at some point.

The right wingers are only interested in nominating candidates that will have no chance of winning a general election against Hillary Clinton. Ben Carson and Donald Trump will lose by large margins and that group doesn't seem interested in settling for establishment candidates Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush who would narrow the margin of defeat.

Even if you support the Democratic Party, none of this is good for the country. Division within the GOP is a danger because you need both parties to work together if we're going to solve any problems. None of that is happening now.

Maybe it's going to take that split within the GOP to send the far right wing on its way and allow center right conservatives to build a coalition in the middle to compete against Democrats. That's the only way the GOP will be able to govern and win back the White House.

It may be a decade in the wilderness until that happens.

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