However emotionally gratifying it might be to many on the right, the sacking of ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy is an ambiguous victory. Take it from the left. Democrats never move a muscle without thinking about politics. These are people who would throw their mothers off a cliff if it meant the good of their party. And they are celebrating McCarthy’s historic humbling. Why would that be?
On one hand, McCarthy showed himself willing to compromise – too willing perhaps – with Joe Biden. On the other, Democrats are desperate to create a distraction from their criminal mismanagement of the country. The economy is in shambles, the invasion at the border is grabbing headlines, and voters are beginning to realize Biden is senile and up to his knees in corruption. Democrats don’t have much to run on in 2024, besides screaming about abortion and drumming up a bugbear of “extremists” on the right who can’t govern. If Republicans can’t agree on their own agenda, why should they be trusted to run the country?
It appears Republicans will now go through a repeat of the spectacle from January, 13 months out from the 2024 election, when Republicans should be focused on exposing Biden’s corruption and ending his political career once and for all.
There is a distinction worth making between parliamentary theater – which is all this rope-a-dope with Matt Gaetz is at end of day – and Donald Trump’s revolutionary dissent, which has cost Trump everything and provoked the establishment into a blind frenzy. Self-interested politicians without Trump’s originality or talent have turned Trumpism to their advantage. They have found a niche whipping up their base with performative outrage against the “uniparty,” but they’re as much a part of the establishment as the politicians they deplore. And “the uniparty” knows it, too.
The grievances which Gaetz exploits are genuine, but Gaetz is not. For Gaetz, this is about self-promotion. He simply took things further than some of his colleagues like Lauren Boebert (Co.), who have mastered the art of toothless provocation. How many really expected Gaetz, after months of yapping, to actually take a bite? McCarthy surely did not! One thing we know for sure, now: Gaetz is the ballsiest member of Congress, who will do anything for the sake of “the bit.”
There is no “plan” for what comes next. The idea of Trump as Speaker of the House, previously proposed by Gaetz on the House floor months ago, is a lark (he’s running, and currently winning the race, for president!), but no more than that. This is the insurgent style of MAGA detached from the substance – and common sense – of its originator.
Of course, McCarthy’s hands aren’t clean. He reneged on commitments to get spending under control. He clearly did not anticipate being taken down in this way; he certainly did not govern like it. On the other hand, he threw a sop to his right with an impeachment inquiry that gave moderates heartburn. And as the country saw in January, there is no viable alternative to McCarthy anyway because he is the Republican party, like it or not. Many of McCarthy’s detractors would readily agree, with regret. At the end of the day, this whole spectacle will end just as it began, with the same Republican party in charge.
Genuine reform will not happen in Congress, which is irreparably broken. That’s part of how we got Trump in the first place. He is the ultimate political outsider; gratuitous parliamentary drama is a distraction from the overarching goal of getting him back in the White House.
This is not a time for tearing down, but building up. Many on the right, especially Trump, have lamented the inability of Republicans to unite like the Democrats do. Sabotaging the party’s leadership and opening up divisions within the conference does not advance that goal. The enemy right now is not “the uniparty,” however weak and unreliable Republicans might be. The “uniparty” will not be on the ballot in 2024. There will be two parties: the Republicans, led by Trump, and the Democrats, led by Crooked Joe Biden. All that matters between now and then is ensuring that Biden goes down in defeat.