SAs long as the Republicans cannot agree on a new speaker for the House of Representatives, the larger chamber of the American Congress will not be able to function. The representatives of the people cannot even be sworn in. The previous opposition’s plan to pass a draft law on the very first day to support the federal tax authorities has already failed. Now that’s not a pity. This and a number of other Republican projects would have had at most symbolic significance anyway – the Democrats have the majority in the Senate, and a Democrat with veto rights sits in the White House. The Republicans could not push through their conservative agenda even with a “speaker”.
Nevertheless, the self-blockade of the new majority faction, celebrated on a large scale, is very worrying for the United States and its allies. Conversely, President Joe Biden and the Democrats cannot rule the country without the House of Representatives. In the summer, however, the country is likely to have once again exhausted its legally stipulated credit limit. Without ruthless spending cuts or another increase in the legal limit, the leading power in the West would no longer be able to service its debts.
If Commander-in-Chief Biden felt that the war in Europe required even more American support than the $45 billion left by the old Congress could buy, he too would be dependent on the House of Representatives. Congress and the White House must have agreed on a new spending law by the end of September anyway, otherwise there will be a government shutdown. The embarrassing blockade in the Republican faction could in this respect anticipate a painful blockade for the whole country – with noticeable consequences all over the world.
What do the deviants want to achieve?
How can it be that almost ten percent of the members are taking their parliamentary group, their party and ultimately the whole country hostage? The short answer is because it (presumably) benefits them. It’s not so much about concessions from the faction leadership; Kevin McCarthy offered the radicals so much even before the first ballot that the vast majority of the faction grumbled audibly. No, the dissenters only care about the next election and their future. They stylize themselves as indomitable fighters against the “establishment” in the “Washington swamp”. Whether the supposed swamp monsters are Democrats or Republicans is secondary.
Elsewhere, the rebels would form their own party. But the American two-party system is stable. The combination of “gerrymandering”, i.e. the structuring of constituencies motivated solely by party tactics, and the primary election system for determining the candidates means that politicians with extreme views prevail in both parties – although the vast majority of Americans have their stance on factual issues, abhors the quarrels they cause and the resulting self-occupation of the parties.
Radical democrats, however, are usually characterized by the fact that they want to push through particularly expensive programs. But that is only possible with a broad majority; That’s why the “young wild ones” around Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez finally reluctantly submitted and largely subordinated themselves to the previous speaker of the chamber, Nancy Pelosi.
The dilemma of the majority
The Republicans on the right-wing edge also need majorities in order to leave their mark on the country in the long term. But they can also achieve a lot as a small minority, because their desire is less to build something new than to destroy what already exists. And that can, see above, be driven forward by blockades.
Regardless of how and when the faction ties the knot and the House of Representatives gets its speaker: the more moderate majority of Republicans (who are ideologically very far to the right by European standards, but all in all are still committed to the functioning of the state) are in the lead a dilemma. You could make pacts with Democrats and get rid of your own dissenters. But that would fuel the fire of the republican fratricidal struggle and would strengthen the radical wing even more in the medium term.
What is happening in the House of Representatives is by no means the Trumpists’ rebellion against the Republican Party, and certainly not the last. Donald Trump himself called for the election of McCarthy, who he sees as a proven opportunist (as did archconservative Jim Jordan, who was voted for by the twenty dissenters). The former President has many more supporters in Congress than just these twenty. Rather, the Republican spectacle is a reminder that Trump is not the cause, just a symptom of the malaise. Following his example, twenty political self-promoters don’t ask themselves what would be right for the party or the country. Like Trump, they like themselves (and their supporters) as destroyers. But they dance no more to his tune than to any other.