The House GOP is not Pining for the Fjords

House GOP Caucus meeting, October 20, 2023

Jordain Carney, Olivia Beavers and Sarah Ferris have a good rundown in Politico of today’s breakdown of the Republican party in the House of Representatives. Two bits leapt out at me. First, buried at the bottom of their column, was this:

In all, 122 Republicans voted to boot Jordan as their party’s nominee, while 86 said he should remain their choice, according to two people familiar with the private discussions. Five members voted present.

Note that this was a secret ballot, so while the public vote of the House showed only a couple of dozen votes against Jordan, a secret ballot proved Jordan could no longer get anywhere close to a majority of the House GOP caucus. Not even close.

The second bit was this, much higher in the piece:

Lawmakers now plan to leave Washington for the weekend as the next round of ambitious Republicans decide whether to mount their own speaker bids.

But most Republicans acknowledge that even with new faces to consider, they still have no clear path to uniting their splintered conference. They have already rejected two speaker candidates — Jordan and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise — as well as former Speaker Kevin McCarthy during this month alone.

Ponder those names for a moment . . .

McCarthy, the former speaker. Scalise, the former Majority Leader. Jordan, the founder of the Freedom Caucus and current Judiciary chair. Those are the #1, #2, and #2a members of the GOP leadership. And they — like the rest of the membership of the GOP caucus — do not like each other, and do not trust each other.

Welcome to life in a multi-party House, where the largest party does not have a majority, and the two other parties are too busy fighting over the name “Republican” for their caucus to get anything done, like selecting their own leader. The House is no longer a place where a majority rules, because there is no majority.

Germany understands this situation, as they’ve lived with it for decades. The conservative Christian Democratic Union (with their regional partners in Bavaria, the even more conservative Christian Socialist Union) [CDU/CSU] and the more liberal Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) are the two historically main parties, with a mix of minor parties alongside them including the Greens, The Left (former East German communists and disaffected SPDers), the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the walking-right-up-to-the-line-with-the-Nazis Alternative for Germany (AfD). Both in the federal government and the various states, governing is usually the work of a coalition, often led by the CDU/CSU or the SPD and filled in with a coalition partner or two.

But there’s one thing more the Germans could teach the folks in the House: despite growing electoral support for the far-right AfD, no other parties will include them in a coalition. Yes, adding them to a coalition could put your leader in power, but the cost of aligning you and your party with racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, hatred of the EU, and historical revisionism is much too much for the leaders of the other parties. This has resulted in some incredible coalitions that one would never expect to see, but the alternative was an unthinkable coalition with AfD.

Which brings us to what’s been going on with the GOP in the House. McCarthy and others made their coalition with Jordan, Gaetz, and the far-right AfD-like folks, thinking they could blunt their harder edges and rougher policies. Note, though, that it took 15 ballots in January to get the far-right to contribute their votes. Finally, the far-right made their coalition with McCarthy, thinking they could roll him with their strong appeal among the base of the party. In the past month, Gaetz et al. decided that the price of the coalition was too much, and pulled the pin on the grenade he was holding within the caucus.

And today, the grenade went off. To borrow from John Cleese . . .

It’s not pining for the fjords! It’s passed on! This party is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker!

It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies!

It’s metabolic processes are now history! It’s off the twig!

It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off this mortal coil, rung down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible!!


That’s what none of the folks in the Republican caucus want to admit in public. Their’s is an ex-party.

What is left in the House is Democratic party with a strong plurality of votes, and two smaller parties fighting over the rest. I don’t know what you would label these two small parties, I don’t know how many votes each group wields in the House, but I know this: they are two separate parties.

So one of two things has to happen. Either the two small parties will get together again — something that is increasingly unlikely — or the non-Jordan/Gaetz group will come to an agreement with the Democrats for a coalition to run the House. If it is the former, it is quite likely to be a very temporary arrangement, and we’ll be right back here again in short order.

I don’t know how long it will take to arrange a coalition between the Dems and the not-so-far-right of the former GOP. I don’t know what the terms of the coalition will be. (See here for a description of the 177 page document outlining the terms of a 2018 CDU/SPD coalition that took six months to hammer out.) I don’t know who will hold the gavels in the House and the various committees.

But I do know this: the House GOP has joined the choir invisible.

102 replies
  1. Rugger_9 says:

    First out of the gate in the rumor mill is Emmer, the Majority Whip. However, McCarthy has already been quick to endorse him which is almost as much of a kiss of death as Defendant-1’s endorsement. Speaking of that, has anyone noted how quiet D-1 has been about Jordan’s political immolation? We may be seeing the end of the Trump ‘brand’ as having political value in addition to being already commercially defunct.

    I do find it interesting that Elise Stefanik (the ostensible #3) hasn’t taken a test run but then again the MAGA types will never tolerate a woman in charge in government. They are useful for their votes and as tokens, and no more. However, the GOP caucus has a whole weekend to ponder their navels and will meet Monday to see what they will do.

    • Fraud Guy says:

      Is it auspicious that the Majority Whip, the position that is supposed to count votes and line up support, apparently has no track record of doing so?

      • Cyneheard says:

        How do you count votes in an organization that’s lying to everyone – including itself – all the time?

    • dadidoc1 says:

      If Tom Cole of Oklahoma hadn’t endorsed Jim Jordan and spoken strongly in support of qualifications to be Speaker of the House, Mr. Cole might have been an option. Alas, his lack of judgement on his support of Jim Jordan is disqualifying.

  2. Pat Neomi says:

    Dems in disarray!

    But seriously, it has been truly flabergasting to watch this utter clown show that is the House GOP. These dynamics are at play in the party writ large (as Peterr suggests above). But this will only continue to boil over as we edge nearer 2024. The zealots will demand that a serially indicted man be their candidate, while the less irrational among the party slowly begin to admit that this sort of zealotry will be the death knell of the GOP. American exceptionalism at its finest.

      • BRUCE F COLE says:

        Looks like the time has come to post this:

        (male, female and narrator voices, last 2 verses are 3 part harmony)

        “Nobody knows the way outa here!”
        Pled the Juggler to the Thief.
        “We’re cornered by this cold collusion
        In which there’s no belief!

        Businessmen, they taint my wine
        And plowmen steal my soil,
        But none a’ them from among their kind
        Would dare to quit their morbid toil!”


        “No need to get so excited,”
        The Thief, she finely spoke.
        “Hell, there are those who walk among us
        Who’d like to think it’s all a joke;

        But you and I, we won’t say that,
        That’s just not how we play.
        So let us both speak playingly now
        For the hour is plainly late!”


        All around us spin the Watchtowers
        Where the Pundits break the news
        And Politicians come and go
        As they are wont to do,

        But the Outside, it’s not so distant anymore
        Where the Rabid Gambler prowls…
        The Rivals are approaching
        As a wild Nor’easter howls!

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    America has little to no experience with the kind of coalition politics that are common in Europe, outside of the UK. The learning curve is likely to be steep.

    The GOP are the party that’s been torn apart, but has yet to recognize it. (Hence, the delicious analogy with the dead parrot.) The Dems are still reasonably united, barring increasingly peripheral figures like Sinema and Manchin, who don’t seem likely to survive their next election. But they have no one to negotiate with, yet, whose promises might be kept. And we’re a long way from a new Congress, in which the Dems might take absolute majorities in both houses.

    • Peterr says:

      Yes to all of this.

      And even worse, the image of Europe among the former GOP is something to be scorned and avoided, not something to learn from.

    • Ed Seedhouse says:

      “America has little to no experience with the kind of coalition politics that are common in Europe”

      And fairly common in your northern neighbour, in which I happen to live. And, as a matter of fact, that’s our situation right now. Not a formal coalition, but a written agreement between parties where the smaller one promises support to the larger in confidence motions and the larger agrees to enact certain policies. We call it a Confidence and Supply agreement.

      • KittyRehn says:

        The S&C deal is the closest we’ve come since the NDP and the Liberals attempted a formal coalition in 2008/2009, and while I think it’s put the NDP in a bit of a tricky spot, I personally find the history (or lack thereof) of coalition dynamics in Canadian federal politics rather intriguing.

    • Ruthie2the says:

      Living in Spain, I’ve seen the difficulty of coalition building since national elections in July. The socialists who were in power came in second, but may form a coalition with not only a party that has some members who literally killed people (from the political arm of ETA, which has since disavower violence) but also the Catalan separatists whose leader fled to Belgium after holding an illegal election to separate from Spain. On the other side, the center right party which won the most votes would have to include a far right party which is fixated on the same issues as MAGAts.

    • duderino says:

      Speaking of coalition strategies (admittedly a desperate throw), would the Republicans think of picking Manchin as leverage in the House against the Democrats. I recall Manchin has intimated he might switch parties. He is from a reddish state. He fancies himself a crucial vote in the Democratic party. If such a choice were made, would Dems begin to splinter thinking “we have to move forward and quit wasting time”?

        • Peterr says:

          In the culture of the Senate, a move to the House would be perceived as a serious demotion. A fair number of senators started their DC career in the House and then won election to the Senate, but no one goes the other direction.

          • bgThenNow says:

            Yeah, once you only have to campaign every 6 years (as 1/100), who would go back to the two year grind and 1/435?

  4. dopefish says:

    I thought this Politico opinion piece by Jonathan Martin was interesting: Why the GOP Can’t Unite

    His argument is that the “pre-Trump GOP” (traditional Republicans) and “post-Trump GOP” (the MAGA wingnuts) are essentially two different parties that had sort of formed a coalition for a while, but now that broke up. Since they want and care about different things, its not surprising that they can’t coalesce around a single candidate for speaker.

    • Peterr says:

      Jordan was a wingnut Freedom Caucus guy long before Trump/MAGA arrived on the scene. The roots of this split go back well before Trump came down the escalator.

      Martin has a good piece, but there are parts that are just laughable, like this:

      “It’s basically a bifurcated coalition government,” former House Speaker Paul Ryan said of the Republican conference he once led.


      “He’s a very articulate fighter on TV, with the gavel,” Ryan said. “He is the star of the conservative media industrial complex, he is their darling.”


      “He is where the center of gravity is,” Ryan added of Jordan . . .

      Paul Ryan has as much of a problem counting votes as the leadership of the House GOP caucus.

      • BobBobCon says:

        The only thing Ryan was ever any good at doing was conning people like Martin into thinking he had a handle on anything.

      • ButteredToast says:

        Great article, Peterr.

        Martin definitely puts too much emphasis on Trump as an inflection point. I’d say that if there were a moment to pinpoint that led to the current GOP fracture, it would be the 2010 election which first brought the “tea party” clown car to DC. (Though arguably, the Republican burn-it-all-down mentality started decades earlier with Newt.)

        In my view, Jordan and his Freedom Caucus cronies (other than Justin Amash) transformed into Trump cheerleaders primarily for political convenience. Also, they were always more interested in shouting on TV, amassing power, and creating chaos than in their self-proclaimed values like fiscal responsibility and small government. (It’s doubtful they ever took these values seriously, but embracing Trump threw their hypocrisy into stark relief.)

  5. bloopie2 says:

    Sometimes a group will choose its leader on the basis of what the group wants to accomplish (“agenda”) and what each candidate says as to how they can make that agenda happen. I don’t suppose the House GOP has done the first part of that exercise?

    • RipNoLonger says:

      Yes. They haven’t been able to articulate an agenda (other than cut taxes on the rich) for many years. They have no desire to do the hard work of figuring out a winning platform.

      They have been sucking at the teats of monied interests (US and foreign) for so long, so just like a successful parents brat child, they have no idea of how to perform. And these brats were intentionally put in place to derail governance – in congress and other venues.

  6. BobBobCon says:

    It’s worth thinking about how much the GOP represents elements of the donor class, and what this may mean about their ability to hammer out an agreement for their lackeys.

    The Kochs, of course, fund enormous amounts — they recently dropped over four billion into a dark money effort and have spent unfathomable amounts in other ways.

    The Uihleins and Mercers, Ron Lauder, Peter Thiel… the list of rich sponsors goes on and on, and that’s before you get into major corporate donors.

    And of course the Murdochs mean life or death to an ambitious wannabe. Technically Rupert has retired, but I doubt he’s checked out.

    To a large extent the dysfunction and vapidity of the House GOP reflects the same of their sponsors. None of them have had a clue all along, and now we’re seeing the fruits of their incompetence and vanity.

    • Peterr says:

      You left out the legions of minor donors who feed the MAGA mouth, which absolutely has to be included. Jordan, Gaetz et al. may not get much for the Kochs, but they are raking it in from the MAGA rubes to make up for it.

      • BobBobCon says:

        One thing that’s interesting about GOP small donor operations is how centralized they are for the most part under the direction of a handful of consultants who run the databases.

        Few of the House GOP has strong independent grassroots organizations — they need big league consultants to bring in those $10/month donors.

        There’s a lack of purpose beyond self preservation at that level too, and an inability to put together a meaningful agenda or leadership group among their clients.

        To a large extent they back GOP clients because they’re vacant, rather than in spite of that.

        • Mycotropic says:

          What are the chances a few representatives get calls over the weekend from some of these big money types suggesting that this shit gets cleared up Monday bright and early?

          • BobBobCon says:

            I’m sure messages are being sent, but I doubt they’re consistent, even when they’re from a single person.

            Accounts of Ron Lauder around the 2022 midterms made it pretty obvious he had no coherent idea what he wanted his candidates to do. I think the vast bulk are like that and the incoherence and disconnection are adding up.

  7. Percysowner says:

    Yes a coalition result probably won’t last long, although dropping the “one person can tear the Speaker down” rule needs to be a pre-condition for anyone elected Speaker. Really, it needs to stay together long enough to pass the budget and aid to Ukraine and Israel. After that we can (maybe) fumble along until the next election. This is barring any new major international incidents.

    • Badger Robert says:

      This might be the pathway out of the mess. The White House has an agenda. They find a few Republicans who can support that agenda and their man gets the gavel. The problem is that the Rs will probably want weak or no opponent in 2024. That won’t happen. But they might get other benefits like ambassadorships or other jobs with appeal.
      In the 19th century Democrats like Lyman Trumball switched parties and Stephen Douglas would no longer support the unrestricted spread of slavery.
      Part of what was the Republican Party may want to secede from the 21st century, but that part seems to be shrinking.
      Great post, by the way.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      No broad shoulders? Calloused hands? Mud-caked work boots?

      Apparently not…

      Just an overcrowded, out of control clown car, with no driver to boot…

      Adding insult to injury, Engoron fines Trump’s $5,000 in NYC…

      And now, another one of Trump’s ex-lawyers, Chesbro, has copped a plea…

      The mind… it boggles…

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What news from Judge Cannon’s courtroom regarding today’s 2.00 pm hearing on Woodward’s conflicts? A headline I saw suggested Cannon is fine with Woodward continuing to represent Nauta through trial.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      If Nauta has a solid personal defense then why would Cannon stand in the way of an independent attorney representing him – even with Woodward being as an advisor? It seems that all these decisions are doing are confirming that Cannon is influenced by the same forces that are paying Woodward.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The apparent extent of Cannon’s colloquy with Waltine Nauta at today’s hearing. Gives me something less than that warm and fuzzy feeling of goodwill:

      At the rescheduled hearing [today], the judge asked Nauta whether he still wanted to proceed with Woodward as his trial lawyer, warning him that he could not later argue that his Sixth amendment right to conflict-free counsel was violated were he to be convicted.

      “I understand the conflicts with ‘Trump Employee 4’ and ‘Witness 1’ and how that could inhibit me,” Nauta told the judge, “but I still choose Mr Woodward as my lawyer.” Cannon accepted his waiver without further questions.

        • JonathanW says:

          Pardon me if I’m not gaming this out right, but shouldn’t we pity the chance that Nauta would flip on Trump? I had vaguely assumed that beyond protecting a potential verdict against an appeal on conflicted cousel, the point of trying to highlight these conflicts was to get Nauta to reverse his strategy and cooperate, under advice of a new counsel.

          I think an assumption I’m making here is that in a situation like this, with one attorney representing 2 defendants, there’s no ethical way for that attorney to advise one client to cooperate against the other, even if that is the best course of action for that defendant.

          Wasn’t Trump Employee 4 an example of this?

          • coalesced says:

            You are correct. But for just for comparison….in DC court, SCO filed for a conflicts hearing on June 27th, 2023. The hearing was started on Friday June 30th (conflict counsel assigned), and Finished July 5th, despite Woodward whining for a 30 day extension to file his briefs. That’s one week compared to what ~ 2 months + in Florida?

            I believe Judge Boasberg in DC simply assigned the conflict counsel to Trump Employee 4 (I infer that Woodward may have had little say in the matter). Five days later, Trump Employee 4 sat for a proffer, and 10 days later testified to a grand jury in South Florida implicating Nauta/Trump/De Oliveira.

            However…..Judge Cannon chose to handle Woodward’s conflicts differently, Nauta none the wiser.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The purpose of a Garcia hearing from the court’s perspective is to give the defendant an unbiased perspective on their legal jeopardy and how their current counsel might be making that jeopardy worse. It’s to protect their rights and the legitimacy of the legal process over which the court presides.

            Good judges sometimes appoint independent counsel, a guardian ad litem, for the hearing – to cleanly separate the client from the potentially conflicted counsel. That’s especially important for clients who have never been dependent on a lawyer before and cling to the one they have.

            It’s the prosecution that wants to use a defendant’s legal jeopardy as legitimate leverage to get them to flip. Woodward calls that extortion (from the perspective of protecting Trump; it would help his other clients), but he knows it happens every fucking day.

            Defense counsel are there to address potential problems in their ability to protect their client. Counsel like Woodward, otoh, are there to protect their reputation and their paycheck.

  9. Dark Phoenix says:

    “So one of two things has to happen. Either the two small parties will get together again — something that is increasingly unlikely — or the non-Jordan/Gaetz group will come to an agreement with the Democrats for a coalition to run the House.”

    Unfortunately, even the not-MAGA wing of the Republican Party considers the latter to be the absolute worst thing they can do (witness Tom Emmer, the guy they’re pushing as a “moderate” candidate, saying that a Dem coalition would be the worst thing ever a few days ago), so they’re going to keep trying the former, over and over again.

    • ToldainDarkwater says:

      I dunno. When Tom Emmer says a coalition with the Dems would be the “worse thing ever”, it doesn’t take it off the table. It kinda seems like a sort of threat, right? It’s the worst thing, but it’s a thing.

      These are politicians, they normally don’t say everything that they mean. I mean, I could read that as “give me a better deal than what the Democrats are offering”.

  10. HardyWeinberg3 says:

    Do you think the gop is really just 2 parties? Seems like more to me. The 8, Team Scalise, Team Jordan, what about Kevin?

    • Rethfernhim says:

      I find this model useful: The Republican party was cobbled together from the late 60’s through early 80’s, pulling together the Confederates from the Democratic party, the traditional pro-business/Chamber of Commerce Republicans, the evangelicals (activated by the abortion issue), and the Libertarians.
      It evolved from there. The business side became more beholden to the rentier class, the evangelicals shifted towards white nationalism… Grifters and demagogues found a home.
      Obama triggered a backlash; the “tea party” rose in opposition (with some funding from the business interests), and by the time Trump came along, he was able to crash the gates easily.
      Holding that coalition together isn’t working. Not clear that it can hold. The question is, how do those factions realign?

      • harpie says:

        I found the following article very informative regarding the history:

        What we get wrong about the Southern Strategy It took much longer — and went much further — than we think. July 26, 2019 Angie Maxwell

        […] In reality, the South swung back and forth in presidential elections for four decades following 1964. Moreover, Republicans didn’t win the South solely by capitalizing on white racial angst. That decision was but one in a series of decisions the party made not just on race but on feminism and religion as well. The GOP successfully fused ideas about the role of government in the economy, women’s place in society, white evangelical Christianity and white racial grievance, in what became a “long Southern strategy” that extended well past the days of Goldwater and Nixon. […]

  11. wa_rickf says:

    Today’s GOP = The raucous caucus who can’t even pick a leader for their House majority, let alone legislate when they do have a leader.

  12. dakine01 says:

    The problem I see is that the current “… not-so-far-right..” of today would have been the absolute far right of thirty or forty years ago.

    Only someone like Joe McCarthy from the ’40s or ’50s could fit in today. Not even Nixon

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I was in England some time ago for an extended period. I described myself to a good friend over cribbage and a wee dram that I was a bit left. After wiping a few drops of Highland malt off his white shirt, he suggested that I was not to the left of anything over there.

    • HardyWeinberg3 says:

      There have been Birchers going back to the 50s they just weren’t electable (maybe outside Goldwater?) until the last couple decades

      • Alan Charbonneau says:

        My favorite John Birch Society anecdote was that John Schmitz, the 1972 candidate for POTUS of the American Independent Party, was kicked out of the Birch Society for “extremist rhetoric” (i.e. racial slurs). Ponder that!

  13. OuthouseCounsel says:

    You make a compelling point that the 122-86 vote tally reflects a deadly split for the Republican party. I think it’s quite a bit more deadly that you conclude. There’s compelling political science that says multiparty coalition systems like the German system you point to have nothing to offer the Republicans to get them out of the mess they’re in.

    Because we have single member districts rather than the German proportional system (with mixed member districts) we get two parties competing for a winner take all single seat. In multi-party systems you don’t have to place first in voting to get a seat, you can win some of the allocated legislative seats from coming in second, third, etc. (Duverger’s “law”, as amended). In these “proportional representation” systems, coalition building happens after elections. In our SMD/two party system parties compete to win the single seat by coalition building prior to the elections to have the best chance to win that single seat. You can see this in strong electoral incentives to co-opt third parties in our system by adopting their policies as much as that’s possible without losing your base.

    The upshot is that splintered parties in the US system can’t just form a coalition once they’re in the legislature. Instead they fail to govern just like we’re watching the splintered Republican “majority” fail, and they become uncompetitive at subsequent elections until they can reorganize and build a reconstituted party that can both win elections and govern as a majority. Unless and until the Republicans can do that, they are all the way off the twig.

    • Ithaqua0 says:

      Also, we don’t have a parliamentary system, so you can’t make deals with the small parties via job offers, e.g., MTG as Minister of Science, as she knows about space lasers and stuff, Boebert as Minister of Morality, because she knows about vaping and making out in public, Jordan as Minister of Sport because he knows about well-run sports programs.

  14. sandman8 says:

    “I don’t know what you would label these two small parties,”

    I’d like to hear some proposed descriptors that the media can start using more often so they can stop calling them the “more” and “less” conservative factions. I think “reactionary” faction would be a fairly simple improvement.

    Imho, the faction that wants to replace an imperfect, 250-year-old democracy with an authoritarian oligarchy in one election cycle shouldn’t be called conservative. Reactionary wing would be an upgrade in language if the press could get on board. Other ideas?

    As to the party name if it’s described as separate and not a wing, how about the dogmatic extremist reactionary party. Or the white incendiary magaist party. Or the trumpist white incendiary nationalistic klan.

    Sorry. Descending into the mud. Just describing the wing as something other than conservative would be great.

    For extensive use of “conservative” in describing supporters of Jim Jordan:

  15. Zinsky123 says:

    Peterr- love the Python reference! Coalition building is a lost art in the U.S. Congress. At the end of the day, it’s the the only way that meaningful change can take place. The GOP’s descent into rigid ideology that portrays the other side as demonic and as “groomers” ensures no compromise is possible. I’m not sure how you quell such zealotry other than to continue to marginalize and condemn their pinched and morally constipated positions on social issues and show people they are delusional and anti-democratic.

    • BirdGardener says:

      Coalition building is a lost art in the U.S. Congress Republican Party

      At least in terms of internal coalitions, the Democrats have been doing well. The left wing and center have cooperated to achieve mutual goals. They have two Senators who have repeatedly put their own interests ahead of achieving group goals, but in the House, they’ve been consistently reaching agreements between the different groups within the Democratic Party.

      As you say, building bridges with the GOP is nearly impossible since the GOP punishes any member who cooperates with Democrats. That’s on the Republicans, not Congress as a whole.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Today’s radical right media, Fox in particular, needs to be regarded as a de facto member of any right wing party, and, therefore, a potential coalition member.

  16. Nutmeg Dem says:

    Very well written article but I don’t think there will be any deal with the D’s. Any R who does so will be pummeled by the right wing media, will get even more death threats than the R’s who voted against Jordan and will invite a primary challenge. It’s anyone’s guess how this ends but I suspect McHenry gets the job in the end.

    • Peterr says:

      McHenry was McCarthy’s hand-picked choice to be the acting speaker, and he was one of the lead negotiators on McCarthy’s behalf with the Dems on the debt ceiling bill. The Gaetz folks can tolerate him as an acting speaker with no power, but there’s no way in hell they would accept him as the real Speaker.

  17. RitaRita says:

    If the secret vote split is indicative of the strength of the factions then the 86 Republicans supporting Jordan is suggestive of the strength of the MAGA caucus. Horrifying that there are that many.

    Just as Senator Graham predicted in 2016, Trump’s ascendancy in the Party would kill the Party. Trump and his allies in the media and in the churches have divided the Party and have been effectively purging their elder statesmen and women and upcoming luminaries – an effective strategy for strengthening Trump’s grip on the Party but with the effect of making the Party a minority Party.

    The chaos in the Republican house caucus has started to break the media’s conventional narratives. Reporters are simply not buying the spin. And they can’t report the story without focusing on Republican divisions. To paraphrase Nixon, when you’ve lost CNN, you’ve lost the war.

    • harpie says:

      JUNIOR DON rallied the JORDAN-supporting faction on
      1/6/21 10:23 AM at TRUMP’s Fascist Rabble-Rousing:

      […] And it should be a message to all the Republicans who have not been willing to actually fight. (cheering) The people who did nothing to stop the steal. This gathering should send a message to them.

      This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. (cheering)
      This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party. (cheering) This is the Republican Party that will put America first. […]

      (Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!) That’s right, guys. That’s the message! These guys better fight for Trump. Because if they’re not, guess what? I’m gonna be in your backyard in a couple of months. (cheering) [..]

      we’re coming for you and we’re gonna have a good time doing it. (cheering) […]

  18. Raven Eye says:

    I’m wondering if there really IS much of a lesson to be learned from looking at Germany or other parliamentary governments.

    What’s missing/not available in the U.S.? The prizes: The prime minister and all the ministries.

    Then throw in the complication of a President elected through an Electoral College rather than by the people.

    • Peterr says:

      The lesson is that if you have to cooperate to get anything done, politicians in Germany have figured out how to do that.

      Yes, there are differences in what that looks like because of the different structures of the two government, but the parallels are still instructive. The parliamentary coalitions have to allocate the executive appointments in the various ministries, while a coalition in the US House would have to negotiate who chairs which committees. There is a *lot* of negotiating that goes on already when a new House is seated, as people in the majority jockey for what they see as plum positions. What needs to be learned is negotiating outside your own party, not just within it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Negotiating outside one’s own party was formerly a daily occurrence. Congresscritters mainly lived in Metro DC, their kids went to the same schools, they shopped at the same stores, dined at the same restaurants and private clubs.

        Newt Gingrich and his leadership clique destroyed that culture during the 1990s. He and his party instituted an alternative, stovepipe culture, in which virtually none of the foregoing took place. That will have to be undone to bring back cross-party negotiations from their near extinction. There are a lot of poachers and attendant lobbyists whose fortunes depend on opposing that revival.

      • Raven Eye says:

        I don’t think it is a matter of legislative altruism. Successful parliamentary governing bodies don’t have a choice. In addition to passing legislation, they have the responsibility of actually forming the government. The effectiveness of the various national and sub-national parliamentary bodies certainly does vary over time, but what is the first thing that is supposed to happen after an election? The House of Representatives has no such responsibility.

        Even if a third party made an in-road into a House where neither the Democrats nor the Republicans had a majority, the prospects of a wake-up call are limited. If that party was either far-right or far-left, it would effectively be the towel boy at a pool party. If it was truly centrist, it might rise to the level of the bartender – everybody want to make friends with the bartender.

        The closest we could get to the kind of intra-chamber negotiation and consensus would be if the Senate was able to take a proactive role in forming a “new government” following a presidential election. It the “advice” part was stronger, it might compel the compromise the coalition building inside the Senate. Having three or more parties in that Senate would make that vision more likely, but that is pretty rare in elections that are determined state-wide.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Flawed analogy and vastly different economy and political circumstances. But if your focus is comparing nascent National Socialists to Republicans, it’s a little closer to the mark.

      • Sue 'em Queequeg says:

        Excellent point.

        In Germany, and Europe in general, there is still, however strained, an acceptance of the notion that you can’t have a functioning government without a healthy social fabric.

        They don’t find getting along with people you can’t stand any easier than the rest of us do. But they have a clearer sense that however high the price, a healthy society is still a bargain compared to the alternative. Phenomena like AfD and its siblings in other European countries suggest this sense may be weakening, but there’s still more of it than we have here.

        It’s kind of fascinating, in a morbid way, to see how much the GOP is willing invest in exactly that hellish alternative while considering it a matter of principle never to admit there might be other options, or even to ask whether the road they’re on leads to anyplace they want to be.

  19. gruntfuttock says:

    ‘I heard you were dead, Mr Beeblebrox.’

    ‘Yeah, that’s right. I just haven’t stopped moving yet.’

    The GOP as we knew it might be dead but it’s going to thrash around for a while like a dying dinosaur, crushing anything that comes near. Unless it finds a way to get rid of the nihilists poisoning its system or nullifies their disproportionate influence.

    I’m no expert on the Constitution but I’ve read that the founders never envisaged a two-party system. Maybe America needs a few schisms and more franchises?

    I need to read a few more of Ed’s posts :-)

  20. WilliamOckham says:

    As much as I love the “dead parrot” sketch, I regretfully inform you that “a coalition between the Dems and the not-so-far-right of the former GOP” is less likely than me being elected Speaker of the House. A Speaker elected by such a coalition would be useless. Under the House rules the Speaker has enormous power, as long as there is an identifiable majority of members willing to back them on every procedural vote.. Historically, Speakers have achieved that by having goodies to dispense to members (committee assignments, fundraising, whatever). With a cross-party coalition, goodie-dispensing becomes a less than zero sum game. Any goodie dispensed risks costing the Speaker more votes in the procedural coalition than it gains.

    I see only two ways out of the current mess. A handful of Republicans can switch parties and Jeffries becomes Speaker. Or the House muddles along until the next election.

    And because both of those seem totally impossible, I suppose that something I can’t see will happen.

  21. harpie says:

    The most infuriating thing about this mayhem is t
    it reminds me several times a day that
    that “minority” of Dems represents so MANY more Americans than
    that “majority” of Rep[robate]s.

  22. Chris Perkins says:

    This seems like an easy play for the Dems. Suggest or support a non-MAGA GOP member for the speaker position and in exchange Jeffries gets to bring some number ( 5? 10?) of bills to that speaker in the coming term and that speaker will in turn bring them to the floor for a vote. No more Hastert “majority of the majority” stuff. A simple deal. Win win. Maybe the Dems could also insist that some of the die-hard MAGA folk be removed from chairing committees.

  23. Lesnoyes says:

    Anarchist / Anarchy party; Anti-Government party. Call ‘‘em what they’ve always been – since long before Reagan.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. Do not add a URL if you did not enter one with your first comment. The URL added with this comment has been deleted. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  24. Verrückte Pferd says:

    Peter, why do you use the standard media descriptor of the FDP, business-friendly? So many use that, in both languages. But aren’t all parties more or less business friendly? Shouldn’t the FDP be called the obstinate libertarian party, or the nuclear and fossil fuel party? Or perhaps the 20th century party in the 21st century? Or the Ayn Rand Party. Or the already disproved trickle-down finance party?
    The FDP is one of the key reasons Germany has so many current problems to solve.

      • Peterr says:


        If this was a big post about German politics, I definitely would have said more about the FDP and its problems. In this post, as a quick-and-dirty way to set the FDP apart from the other parties for a primarily US audience, “business-friendly” seemed the easiest.

  25. Legonaut says:

    Politico has a story about a “unity pledge” idea being floated to avoid the embarrassment of failed floor votes:

    TL;DR: promise your public floor vote for whoever gets the white-smoke treatment in the backroom election.

    Not sure how this will solve anything, as there are certainly more than 5 GOP reps who would either never sign on or would renege on any such promise and write-in/vote for Jordan anyway. (I’m not sure if write-ins are allowed, or if a formal nomination is required. If you can only vote for nominees, then no “pledge” is required since McHenry could simply not recognize anyone trying to nominate/second an alternative. Voting “present” would just hand the gavel to Jeffries, who’d immediately yank all the committee chairs and end Comer’s “impeachment investigation” project.)

  26. Badger Robert says:

    Can Peterr update his comments? Why would Emmer just quit like that? Was he afraid the Democrats might let him have the Speaker’s gavel?

  27. ChipOffTheOldBlock says:

    I have a sinking feeling I’ve figured out the Wingnut Caucus strategy here — drag this out until the government shuts down, then put Jordan (or a Jordan equivalent) forward again as the nominee and push a narrative that blames Dems for the shutdown because they’re blocking the GOP from electing a speaker hoping to pressure them into caving and providing enough “present” votes for Jordan to get in.

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