The GOP election cycle started off unexpectedly positive. But not for everyone. Donald Trump’s quick rise to the top in the polls as a favorite stunned the political world. And the GOP Establishment got a wakeup call. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to them. After the beating Democrats got in the 2012 election, political pundits warned that it wasn’t because Republicans were so great, it was that Democrats led by Obama and Reid were worse.
Now as the lay-of-the-land for the 2016 elections unfolds, it’s clear Americans have had it with the Establishment for both parties. They want change, and they’re backing non-political candidates: Trump, Carson and Fiorina for the GOP nominees. And Bernie Sanders is a maverick in the political world. He is doing great against Clinton who was once thought to be a “shoe in.”
“Tea Party” Backers in House Push for Radical Changes in Leadership and Operations
This phenomenon in voter support for non-politician candidates gave some Members of the House what they were looking for to prompt major change. Tea Party-backing naysayers in the Establishment are scrambling for someone to blame and building a base for major changes in how things work.
The momentum has once again put the House in a flurry of discord. It renews concerns that the Party will be immobilized. John Boehner has been pushed out as Speaker. It’s caused a windfall of open leadership spots. All this just before an election year. Will the new resolve strengthen the Party? Or will it cause more dysfunction? The uncertainty leaves many asking why now?
Quite frankly, it’s a complicated mess. Understanding the dynamics and underlying agendas are core to making sense of the movement and the potential outcome. It also opens new doors of opportunity for us to have a voice.
Are Some Conservatives Duping the American Public for Their Own Personal Agenda?
A big problem that has plagued the Party is the conflict among Congressional Members in how they define “Conservative.”
It’s amazing how many people think that there’s a Tea Party Caucus in Congress. There isn’t. The Tea Party movement is a grassroots movement calling for radical change. The name was chosen to draw mental images of the aggressive action taken at the Boston Tea Party when they destroyed personal property (tea and ships) in protest against a British tax. So, when you hear Tea Party think of radical actions that aim to disrupt the government, even if there is no path to success.
It’s even more surprising how many people think that Congressional Conservatives are all part of the Tea Party movement. They are not.
Tea Party backers in the House belong to the Freedom Caucus. There are about 30-40 Members. As you may suspect, this group supports radical changes such as shutting down the government and standing up to Obama no matter what the consequences. We suffered from these choices in the past and today’s polls clearly show Americans want stability. But self-interest groups in Congress are still pushing for these actions.
The vast majority of House Conservatives belong to the Republican Study Committee (RSC). It has about 170 Members. This group strongly advocates conservative issues and Constitutional Rights. But they do it by operating within the structure that our forefathers designed for us.
Attack on Boehner Puts Traditional Conservatives in the Middle of the Fight
The Freedom Caucus has been trying to get Boehner out for some time. They don’t think he’s done enough to stand up to Obama. Yet, they seem to ignore that Obama would look on as America crumbled to the ground if it meant he would get his way. So, it’s been a tough time for the GOP to try to find reasonable alternatives to keep America safe and voters happy. Most think Boehner has done a good job with the cards he’s been dealt, so other Members have stepped in each time to support Boehner when his role was challenged.
A Push for Change Appeals to Conservatives and New Members
But those who wanted Boehner out pushed for changes in the rules of engagement. Congress runs more on a parliamentary-style proceeding. Not a democratic one. Their momentum calling for operational changes gained support from new Members who weren’t happy with the ways of the Establishment – and it got them enough votes that they may have been able to push Boehner out.
The current system is one where senior Members rule. And it’s hard to move up the ladder. Newbies often get stuck in unwanted committees. They don’t have much to say on actions. And so they want reform. New leaders want a bigger voice. They want to be on important committees. And they want to have input on Bills before they reach the floor for a vote.
Boehner Could Only Stay if He Made a Deal with the Devil
Despite their efforts, Boehner had options. Even the Dems respected Boehner and would have voted to keep him in. With Dem support, Boehner could have kept his job if he wanted it. There are few who would have the integrity to walk away.
But if Boehner would have accepted these terms, he would have owed the democrats a lot of favors. It would have been difficult for him to lead going forward. He chose to move on.
Boehner’s Elegant Exit
Boehner chose to leave on a positive note despite the way things went for him. He abruptly resigned the day after Pope Francis gave his speech before Congress. Boehner noted that it was a life-long dream to meet the Pope. He considered it the highlight of his career and told reporters that it couldn’t get better than meeting the Pope and that is why he thought it was a good time to leave. He felt it was the pinnacle of his career. His last day is October 30th.
Can the New Guys Do Any Better?
Kevin McCarthy (CA, 23rd), Daniel Webster (FL) and Jason Chaffetz (UT 3rd) are running for Speaker of the House. Kevin McCarthy is the favorite and most believe he will win. He has a solid record of rapid growth and success. Webster doesn’t have widespread support. And Chaffetz hopped in at the last minute.
McCarthy should be able to keep Boehner supporters. He also has the trust of Conservatives. The question will be whether he can reel in the Freedom Caucus. Webster is well liked, but it isn’t clear whether he will be able to hold the factions together. And some fear Chaffetz would give too much power to the already growing Freedom Caucus.
The Shuffle for Speaker Cuts Deep into Other Leadership Positions
McCarthy’s Majority Leader spot may open up if he wins. Rep. Tom Price (the favorite) and Rep. Scalise have thrown their hat in the ring for Majority Leader. Scalise, the House Majority Whip, may open a spots for whips if he wins.
Patrick McHenry (N.C.), Dennis Ross (Fla.) and Pet Sessions (TX) have shown interest for the spot of Majority Whip. Sessions has shown great success in his role for the Patriot Program and would make a powerful Major Whip leader.
Don’t Sit Idle – This is Time to Kick into Gear!
Changes are going on and it is happening fast. Here are some things you can do to help to voice your opinions and concerns.
Get to know the guys who want the jobs – don’t wait – the changes are happening fast. Look them up on www.house.gov . You can find the list of Freedom Caucus Member at <http://desantis.house.gov/media-center/in-the-news/meet-the-freedom-caucus>.
- As you look at the Members, try to find similarities between what issues they support that you too support (find info at their website through www.house.gov), and
- Contact your federal, state and local legislators to discuss your findings, voice your opinion and ask them to support it in the House