I’ve been a conservative since Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign. I’ve been active in Republican politics since then, including four years as Communications Director for Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH), who should become the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. That is, IF House Republicans can get their act together and elect a Speaker so Congress can begin work.
From the Reagan era through my years working at the Capitol, I was proud to be a Republican. I’ll admit, however, that it has become increasingly difficult to be a proud Republican over the past decade because I am conservative, not crazy.
Around 2010, coinciding with the rise of the Tea Party, the Republican Party continued to venture further away from the political organization I joined.
Tea Party Members created chaos. They made the Republican conference impossible to manage. They drove John Boehner and Paul Ryan from the Speaker’s office and into retirement.
History will determine where Mr. Boehner ranks as Speaker. Since he represented the District next to Mr. Turner’s, I saw firsthand that he was a shrewd politician who made the best deals for the Party – and the nation – often under impossible circumstances.
Most of the same Tea Party Members were strong supporters of Donald Trump, who thrived on chaos.
The Trump years were not always easy for many Republicans. While I agreed with most of Trump’s policies, I didn’t care for how he conducted himself.
The chaos of the Trump years continued into the 2022 midterms. Republicans at least won the House, if only by six seats, which set the stage for the current Kafkaesque nightmare.
No other House business, including swearing in the Member-elects, can happen before selecting the Speaker. It’s been 100 years since it’s taken more than one ballot to do so.
Twenty Members of the “Freedom Caucus” are on a kamikaze mission and will not elect the former Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, Speaker. They’ve become the “Hostage-Taking Caucus.” They are holding the Republican Party, the House of Representatives, and Congress hostage.
These Members are not conservatives. They are crazies.
The media often refers to them as “far right.” If that means to the right of Attila the Hun, then I suppose it fits.
More accurately, they are self-aggrandizing, ego-maniacal, narcissistic, insane jackasses.
A minority of the majority is embarrassing the Republican Party at a vital moment. Instead of fighting the agenda that has caused a majority of Americans to say the country is going in the wrong direction, Republicans are engaged in petty intramural battles.
After a hard-fought election, instead of earning the country’s trust with the power of Republican ideas, these 20 imbeciles are showing that the GOP can’t govern. They are ensuring that Republicans will have a short tenure in the majority.
It takes 218 votes to become Speaker. All 212 Democrat Members are united, voting for Hakeem Jeffries as Speaker. McCarthy can’t get past 203.
It’s not as if the Freedom Caucus has an alternative, either. On the first ballot, they nominated Andy Biggs, a Freedom Caucus member from Arizona. He received just ten of their nineteen votes.
On the second ballot, they nominated Jim Jordan, a member of the Freedom Caucus from Ohio. Except Jordan doesn’t want to be Speaker. He wants to be Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Jordan nominated McCarthy and has voted for him on every ballot.
On the third ballot, Byron Donalds (R-FL), a Member about to start his second term, joined the other nineteen against McCarthy. On the fourth ballot, they nominated Donalds for Speaker. For several rounds, he received all 20 votes.
On the eighth ballot, Freedom Caucus member Matt Gaetz, one of the more despicable Members of Congress, nominated Trump – on the day before the anniversary of the January 6th riots. Doing so provided additional fodder for Democrats and added to the circus environment of the proceedings. They are not serious, just obstructionists.
The crazies are so out of control that even Trump, who most of the 20 pledge fealty, cannot get these lunatics to yield. Certainly, there must be an important principle at stake. But there isn’t.
Their list of demands is as insane as they are. They want their caucus to have outsized power. They demand guarantees that their pet projects will be part of final legislation – which no Speaker can promise. They want subpoena power and for a single Member to be able to force the Speaker’s recall. They want to jump seniority for committee assignments. Some of their demands probably aren’t legal.
In addition to creating hysterical laughter from across the aisle, holding Congress hostage has numerous implications. Currently, there is no Congress. If there was a national emergency and the president needed to ask for military authority or additional funding, there is no legislative body to authorize these actions.
Constituent services are a vital function of Congressional offices. I saw personal emergencies averted by Congressional office case workers almost daily. Ever need a passport fast? Today, there are no Members of Congress to help.
McCarthy has few options. If the crazy win now, how militant will their future demands be? There are no good choices – only bad and worse.
McCarthy is trying to negotiate with terrorists. They will own him if he strikes a deal that weakens the Speaker and strengthens this band of thugs.
The 20 defectors need to be dealt with harshly. When it’s over, whoever is Speaker must strip them of their committee assignments. None should see any of their legislation reach the House floor. They must be persona non-grata for the next two years. McCarthy, the NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee), and the RNC (Republican National Committee) must commit to finding strong primary challengers to unseat them.
McCarthy might find fourteen or fifteen Democrats with whom he can broker a power-sharing agreement, similar to how the 50-50 Senate previously worked. However, Democrats are enjoying the chaos too much to help. Such an arrangement will also end the Republican majority before it begins and infuriate the base. It’s the equivalent of a corporate poison pill.
The movement that started over a decade ago to make the Republican Party more conservative and resolved has become an out-of-control cancer. The party that the 20 members are demanding won’t win national, or even most statewide elections, any more than the Democrats Squad can.
I laughed at the troubles the Squad gave Nancy Pelosi a few years ago. Truthfully, she corralled them far better than anybody in Republican leadership has been able to do with our crazies.
This week should be a celebration for Republicans. Twenty Members went too far. They’re not conservative. They’re crazy. It’s time to remove the cancer.
If you support the 20 members holding the party and the government hostage, explain how you think this works out for the better. Comment below, message me on Facebook or Twitter, or email me directly – but be sane.
If you agree this has gone too far, below is the list of the 20 Members holding up the Republican majority. Included are the office numbers of the incumbents and the amount of money they received from Kevin McCarthy’s PAC. Congressional offices record the number of calls and the level of passion. Members fear being on the wrong side of public opinion. Call their offices and make your opinion known.
Scott Perry serves Pennsylvania’s 10th District, which includes all of Dauphin County and parts of Cumberland County and York County. It includes the cities of Harrisburg and York. Perry is one of the most senior Members taking part in this farce. This session will be his sixth term. He should know better. Most are inexperienced lawmakers. Five of the 20 haven’t been sworn in for their first term yet. In all, fourteen served two or fewer, and seventeen served three or fewer terms.
As of Friday afternoon, on the twelfth ballot, the resistance began to break down.
It’s not clear whether some of the objectors wore down or if McCarthy negotiated
to get the additional 14 votes. Watching the proceedings on the House floor, it may be a combination of both. Some of the holdouts may have decided McCarthy is now inevitable and felt it was better to get on the train than get run over by it.
If the votes were negotiated, we don’t know what was given up. The law of unintended consequences may prove painful for McCarthy’s Speakership. What power has been given to these crazies? How will it impact legislation such as negotiating the debt ceiling and appropriation bills?
McCarthy didn’t win on the twelfth ballot because he can only lose four Republican votes and become Speaker. There are still seven holdouts who claim they will never vote for McCarthy. Two of the most notable are Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert. There is a list of ethics and legal issues against Gaetz. He likes to appear on television much more than accomplish anything in Congress. Gaetz could easily be censured and potentially not seated as a Member of Congress. You may remember Boebert for wearing a dress printed with “Drill Baby Drill” at the State of the Union. When Boebert speaks, she reveals everything you need to know about her.
I have no doubt that any time now, Kevin McCarthy will win the Speakership anytime, perhaps by the time you read this, but we must not let the people who brought the Party and Congress to its knees for four days.
My opinion remains that these 20 people embarrassed and hurt the Republican Party at a crucial moment. Whatever deal was cut, they should lose their committee assignments and face strong primary challengers in the next cycle. A political party cannot function when a small group of its most extreme people is willing to hold it, hostage, at the expense of everybody else who worked to help win back the majority.
This entire 20 who created this mess represent crazy – not conservatives. They must be dealt with as we have dealt with terrorists or as a doctor works to fight cancer in a patient. If not, they will surely kill the Republican Party.
No votes that switched to yes for Kevin McCarthy on the 12th Ballot – including Pennsylvania’s Scott Perry:
Rep. Dan Bishop (N.C.)
Rep.-elect Josh Brecheen (Okla.)
Rep. Michael Cloud (Texas)
Rep. Andrew Clyde (Ga.)
Rep. Byron Donalds (Fla.)
Rep. Paul Gosar (Ariz.)
Rep.-elect Anna Paulina Luna (Fla.)
Rep. Mary Miller (Ill.)
Rep. Ralph Norman (S.C.)
Rep.-elect Andy Ogles (Tenn.)
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.)
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas)
Rep.-elect Keith Self (Texas)
Rep Victoria Spartz (Ind) – switched her vote from present to McCarthy
The seven remaining holdouts include:
Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) – (202) 225-4136
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) – (202) 225-4761
Rep. Bob Good (Va.) – (202) 225-4711
Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.) – (202) 225-2635
Rep. Matt Rosendale (Mont.) – (202) 225-3211
Rep. Andy Harris (Md.) – (202) 225-5311
Rep.-elect Eli Crane (Ariz.) – no office yet
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). He can be reached by email at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.