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Columnist Clash: Republican infighting — good or bad for America?

The Republican-controlled House has been chaotic and legislatively constipated. Does this bode well for America?
Image by Ava Weinreis

The Republican House has been fervently fighting amongst themselves in recent weeks, culminating in the removal of Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Things do not look good, but under the surface, could this be a good thing for the country?

Gabe’s Opinion:

The Republican Party is collapsing in on itself, and my God, is it entertaining.

McCarthy’s removal was the first time in history a speaker has been booted off the soapbox. What did he do that ended up being a fireable offense? His job: reaching across the aisle and working with Democrats.

The motion to can McCarthy came from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), the House member most resembling Trollface and a member of the hard-right Freedom Caucus. Gaetz and his fellow freedom fighters do not condescend to cooperate with the Demoncrats.

To them, McCarthy’s collaboration to avert a government shutdown (for 45 days) was an act as reprehensible as drinking babies’ blood. As punishment, Gaetz moved to remove him, and the House — including all 208 present Democrats — passed the motion, giving McCarthy a bipartisan boot.

While members of the Freedom Caucus were all in agreement on McCarthy’s removal, most Republicans were outspokenly against it. A large part of the speaker’s job is to collaborate across party lines to ensure that legislation can actually become law and benefit (or detract from) Americans’ lives.

As such, many argued removing McCarthy would set a dangerous precedent. But McCarthy was no Lincoln. The fact the government veered so close to a shutdown is evidence enough of that. He consistently stalled progress and ceded little to the Democrats, who were happy to get rid of him.

The Republican schism is a dark cloud with a gleaming silver lining. Characterized by the Freedom Caucus, the only coherent interpretation of the party’s platform is “owning the libs.” Besides that, they have nothing to offer. Moderate Republicans can only snivel about Hunter Biden’s laptop as their entire ideology bursts at the seams.

Their infighting may signal that America has become disillusioned with everything Republicans represent and is catching up ideologically with the rest of the developed world. I can only hope that the party’s death is less of a supernova and more of a snuffing out.

Mubina’s opinion:

Looks like another win for the far-right Republicans. With McCarthy out, the seat is empty once more with another government shutdown looming in the background. Does this mean the end of the Republican Party?

No. That would be too easy. 

While some Democrats may celebrate the contentious ousting, they may find their elation soon deflated. The far-right side of the Republican Party was unhappy with McCarthy’s reliance on Democratic votes to avoid a government shutdown. The party felt McCarthy was not prioritizing the conservative agenda. Democrats were equally unhappy with McCarthy’s actions as speaker, so I guess the thing to celebrate would be the fact both sides were finally able to agree on something. 

With this much chaos, it’s hard to imagine anything of significance being accomplished. The Republicans will need to settle their conflicts to avoid losing their power in the House, especially with the Democrats controlling both the Senate and the White House. 

McCarthy’s ousting proves that the far-right power within the Republican Party cannot and will not be ignored. Their ability to remove McCarthy sets a dangerous precedent. This proves that the far-right is not willing to compromise, and if the Republicans want to retain any sort of standing, they will be more than ready to appease their far-right members. 

Whoever fills the seat next knows that their position is in danger unless they abide by the whims of every member of the Republican Party, because they will not find any success siding with Democrats — the apparent catalyst for McCarthy’s downfall. 

Can we really classify this disorder as anything but a loss for the possibility of rational decision-making?

Gabe’s Rebuttal:

It’s not an overstatement to say the House has been in chaos these past few weeks. However, I need to point out that chaos has kind of been the status quo since 2016, at least for the Republican Party. McCarthy’s removal is yet another unprecedented historical moment in a streak that has persisted for what feels like an eternity.

Republicans will keep their narrow control of the House for at least another year. As you said, it’s difficult to imagine anything significant will be accomplished in that time.

While the ineffectuality that is sure to follow the new speaker’s selection will be deleterious, it’s important to remember that hackneyed platitude: “This too shall pass.” When this passes, Republicans will have to answer for the time they spent clogging the legislative process.

Maybe I’m naive for thinking that they will suffer any consequences for poor governance. After all, if that were true, how many of them would hold office right now? However, this session has seen several Republicans embarrass themselves with unparalleled magnitude.

Lauren Boebert’s (R-Col.) theater vape-‘n-grope session, for example, tarnished her already grimy reputation. Jim Jordan (R-OH.), who was a speaker candidate after McCarthy’s removal, has been accused since 2018 of ignoring sexual assault allegations aimed at a team doctor while he worked as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University. The House’s inability to agree on a speaker twice is an embarrassment in and of itself.

All Democrats need is another six seats in the next election and the House will be theirs again. The 117th Congress was marked by a barrage of significant bills. The 118th has been marred with delays and discord. I believe the tumult will tip the scales, and hopefully, we will see a return to actual leadership.

Mubina’s Rebuttal:

I can understand why you found the Republican infighting entertaining. It’s like watching a car crash in real time: deeply concerning, but you can’t look away. 

The Republican Party does look vulnerable, and you point out the fact that this could lead to voters finally becoming disillusioned with the Republican ideology. However, I cannot view this turmoil similarly. 

People who are passive followers of political activities are more likely to be disappointed by the government as a whole rather than just the Republican Party. It’s not comforting to see government shutdowns being threatened and party lines being drawn. The strongest message being transmitted is that our leaders are dysfunctional. 

It’s crucial to bear in mind that political parties undergo phases of transformation and adjustment. The Republican Party has encountered obstacles and internal rifts in previous instances, and it has undergone changes throughout its history. It will take more than this to dismantle a party so entrenched in American politics. 

A successful democracy means representatives from all walks of life coming together to enact changes that will benefit the populace. While this idealized oversimplification does not represent our current predicament, the goal still remains. 

Dismissing a party because of their contentious viewpoints will lead to the alienation of many people. If one party celebrates the unraveling of another, how will we ever be able to bridge the gap that continues to grow within the country?

What do you think?

Does Republican infighting threaten and undermine our democracy? Or is it indicative of a brighter future ahead? Voice your opinion in the comments!

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