Dissident Republican officials who held up the House Speaker vote are heroes to democracy

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS — Democracy in action is a beautiful thing to behold. Unfortunately, much of what passes as democracy these days is really just a façade – questionable measures bolstered by spin and PR that masks the murky motives and interests lurking beneath. It was only thanks to a handful of elected Republican congressional representatives that we were able to catch a rare glimpse of actual democracy recently during the election of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). And, boy, did it ever rub establishment fixtures and their assorted bootlickers the wrong way.

In what was widely derided as a mess or a fiasco, 20 Republicans, including members of the party’s Freedom Caucus refused to blindly fall in line with the GOP establishment’s vote in favor of longtime House Speaker favorite, McCarthy.

You could almost hear the exasperation in the reporting as the rounds of voting piled up without a result over the course of days. It started to resemble an election of the next Pope at the Vatican rather than a process that’s generally considered to be a formality during which the Chosen One of the majority congressional party is swept straight into the Speaker’s chair in a wave of back slaps from cronies.

But in what’s supposed to be a democratic system, why shouldn’t the election of the second official in line to the presidency of the United States be contentious and subjected to lively debate? One of the biggest problems in Washington is the sheer amount of democracy that is sacrificed in the interests of projecting party unity at all costs. Democracy is often messy. Would the many who denounce that messiness as “embarrassing” or “humiliating” really prefer less dissent? Perhaps they should consider living in an autocracy or a kingdom, if that’s the case, where things are far more cut and dry.

It’s not like McCarthy himself has been an open book. Quite the opposite, in fact. Does anyone really know what he stands for? Does he?

Last year, McCarthy came out against a “blank check” for Ukraine funding, but then quickly backpedaled when he came under attack from some members of his party’s establishment, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). That’s not exactly a minor issue, given the billions of dollars that Congress has shoveled out the door.

McCarthy caved in that issue like someone whose spine could easily be covered with a string of dental floss. Any Republican who didn’t doubt his integrity after that incident — that is, his ability to match his words and actions consistently — was not doing their job for the American people, or else was just happy that he had settled back into the swamp. The Republican dissidents seemed intent on dragging him back out and making him stand for something to earn their vote.

The GOP dissidents successfully managed to get McCarthy down off the fence on that funding after 15 rounds of voting, as he reportedly committed to return to his previous position of cutting Ukraine aid, according to London’s Telegraph. Other clarifications of McCarthy’s positions reportedly include a commitment to shut the government down rather than raise the debt ceiling.

Given McCarthy’s total inability to restrain himself from voting for every massive Democratic spending bill that goes against the very basic conservative principles of limited government, it’s hardly an unreasonable Republican request. What’s sad is that such basic tenets are only being upheld by a small group of Republicans who are widely being framed as MAGA fringers, including by their own party. The GOP establishment apparently fails to understand that while support for former President Donald Trump himself has waned as a result of personality issues, support for the principles that got him elected persists. Specifically, the ideals of less government waste, fewer foreign wars, and less corruption of the democratic process by special interests.

The dissident holdouts also reportedly demanded that McCarthy allow House members 72 hours to review bills before they’re brought forward for a vote. How radical to expect elected officials to actually be given adequate time to read through and catch any hidden wasteful spending before they’re asked to ram it through!

An investigative committee to look into the “weaponization” of the federal government through information collection on Americans was also among the Freedom Caucus’ demands.

All Americans would benefit from each one of these points of contention being addressed. It’s a refreshing change from the usual backroom wheeling and dealing that’s primarily of personal and political benefit to the officials doing it.

Rather than attack and criticize their own party members, the establishment GOP should be grateful that at least a few within their ranks have the courage to defend the most basic Republican values and prioritize them above blind party loyalty. When Washington has become as corrupt as it is, dissident voices with legislative clout are more important than ever, and far more of them are needed on both sides of the aisle. The survival of both establishment parties may depend on it.