After five ballots, the 118th Congress of the biggest and perhaps, the most successful democracy, the United States of America has not been able to gavel in electing its Speaker.
For the Republicans to successfully elect the next Speaker, the nominee would need 218 votes out of the House Republicans with 222 seats.
A deadlock in electing the Speaker in the United States happened last in 1923. Once this occured, it meant that the powerful Congress becomes inactive and would send very wrong signals to Republican Allies and the world at large.
The House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (Republican from California) has been in the saddle for 14 years as the House Leader. He had great influence during the Trump Presidency. With his confidence, I wonder what went amiss. As a follower of US democratic process, I believe he is having a rough time for several reasons:
1. Kevin McCarthy’s 2020 Biden election denial pitched him against some far right conservatives, who have sworn not to support his candidature. It is either McCarthy steps aside or continues until victorious.
2. Kevin McCarthy’s unflinching support for Trump and the January 6 2021 ‘botched coup’ against Biden election didn’t speak in his favor.
3. Some far right conservatives who have refused to buy into the election deniers agenda know that they would lose grounds and positions once McCarthy steps in. Therefore, they would support a more liberal person who would treat them with respect. So, self interest is also at play. In the alternative, they would go to the extreme to extract so much concession to protect themselves.
4. Distrust and possible high handedness which has made those in opposition to force McCarthy in acccepting as low as five Republicans being enough to begin a motion for him to be removed as a speaker. This is a sword of damocles and the hangman’s noose hanging over his neck. With this deal, the powers of the Speaker would have been seriously eroded and unlikely to hold sway the way Nancy Pelosi did.
What lessons has this for our democracy?
1. That even when a party is in the majority, it should not just be a rubber stamp to any past President or others outside Congress.
2. Leaders should be very careful when making very tough decisions in their political journey because the future could come for a very deep bite.
3. Always support what is right. One might lose in the process, but experience has taught me that staying upright has a future moral bank for social credits as rewards. Just because your party is in power should not make you deny the obvious and back what is undemocratic.
4. In all the disagreements thus far, the politicians in Congress have demonstrated great respect for the rule of law and House proceedings. They have treated the Chamber and the process with utmost respect.
5. The politicians have majorly acted in line with their principles. They are not divided on religious and tribal lines.
6. It is true that majority will always have their way but we have seen clearly the case of a few making life difficult for the majority. This is the reason why people must be humble and magnanimous in victory. If only McCarthy realized this early enough.
As I keep monitoring the event, one thing is sure, whoever emerges at the end of the day as the Speaker of the Congress, might not be as powerful as Nancy Pelosi, and therefore, would need a bi-partisan approach in all matters.
Grace and peace!!!