The Price of Kevin McCarthy’s Victory: A Look At the Cost Of Elections In The United States

The concessions to around twenty Trump supporters to give their party partner the green light as ‘speaker’ augur two difficult years for US politics.

It has been a high-tension start to the political year in the United States. Something not seen in decades. The party with the majority in the House of Representatives, the Republican Party, has shown the deep division it faces in its ranks. As many as fifteen ballots were needed for Kevin McCarthy, a California state representative, to be elected House speaker.

Days of blockade, of infighting, of public discussions in the same Chamber between McCarthy and ultra-republicans who preferred blockade and division. That group of radicals are few, about twenty in a party that in the last elections won 222 seats out of 435, a slim majority but a majority nonetheless.

Final Vote on Saturday Morning

After the final vote on Saturday morning, the US media analyze what happened and, in general, there is concern about the cost that the concessions of the new president of the House of Representatives may have to his own radicals. A cost that goes beyond the potential self-inflicted damage to the Republican Party because it puts at risk the already difficult functioning of parliamentary dynamics, today affected by political polarization.

Most Republican legislators are downplaying the issue these days to achieve the difficult task of recovering an image of unity (tell me what you’re talking about and I’ll tell you what you lack), but it is clear that McCarthy – who has spent years seeking to be President of the Camera– has achieved his dream.

Of the many concessions made by McCarthy, there is one that is surely the most potentially disruptive: the one that empowers a single legislator to initiate the process of impeachment of the speaker of the House and that would lead again to a vote in which the divisions could to regenerate the chaos seen this week (in addition to paralyzing the necessary operation of the Chamber).

The rule may never be applied for the next two years but its existence table allows any of the radical conservatives to threaten its use if their demands are not accepted.

Leader of The House of Representatives

The leader of the House of Representatives is one of the most powerful and relevant political figures in the United States. He occupies the second position in the line of succession to the president, after the vice president, and is in charge of passing laws and – more importantly – approving the budget, spending, debt limit, etc.

A speaker of the House of Representatives with a disruptive will can bankrupt the country or make it almost impossible for the occupant of the White House to govern.

McCarthy is a politician who grew up in his native California – a Democratic state – in which he was always in the minority. There he forged a reputation as a moderate and skilled negotiator to reach agreements.

In recent years, with the irruption of Donald Trump in national politics, McCarthy became radicalized – it is not known if for convenience, conviction or both – but his rise to the position achieved on Thursday night has been achieved with a high personal cost – because of the humiliation that entailed days of drama and concessions – and with his own leadership authority weakened.

McCarthy could have gotten the half dozen votes he needed by negotiating with the Democrats, putting the institution and its functions first (we don’t know if the Democrats would have wanted to give him those votes), but he preferred derision to cornering a group of ultras who come from Trumpism, the cancer that is destroying the Great Old Party, or GOP as the conservative party is also known.

It seems to have been of no use that his party has reaped such poor results since Trump’s first victory in 2016. He lost in the 2018 midterm elections, in the 2020 presidential elections and in last November he obtained very modest results. McCarthy himself expected a “great red wave” which he was not.

Two years of legislature begin that will be difficult. There are no indications that the two parties want to move away from extremes and seek great national agreements, and what has been seen these first days of January portends a complicated end to this Joe Biden presidency and an even more painful journey for McCarthy… if he succeeds survive politically.

This article is originally published on diaridetarragona.com