13 October 2015

Notes from Norm: Americans Don’t Care

“Ryan wants people to support him because they think he’s a good leader who will do the right thing for the party and the country, not because he’s agreed to a set of demands…”
–    Politico

With the looming departure of Speaker John Boehner, the short-lived candidacy of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have a quandary on their hands.

They can elect a leader who will do what a small group of members want – basically agree to all of their demands despite the fact most of their demands would make the institution ungovernable – or they can elect a leader who will do the right thing for the country and the party.

It’s tough being an adult.  

Even in politics.

I think Paul Ryan would be a splendid Speaker of the House.  I thought Kevin McCarthy would be, too.

I think John Boehner was an outstanding Speaker of the House.

Frankly, there are others like John Kline and a host of other truly qualified men and women in Congress that could be outstanding candidates for Speaker of the House.

I also understand and respect that there are those who do not agree with any of my assessments about these three men or others.

But, I think I am on pretty good standing when I say that I believe the vast majority of the American people could care less about the petty politics that are playing themselves out behind and in front of the scenes in Washington, D.C.

I think the vast majority of Americans would not give a tinker’s damn about the demands of the “Freedom Caucus” that there should be votes on the floor of the U.S. House for the sake of taking votes – even if there’s no chance that legislation being voted on will pass.

Nor do I believe an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that 30 – maybe 40 – members of the U.S. House of Representatives have obtained a level of infallibility that even the Pope dare not presume he possesses.

Yet, these handful of politicians have declared themselves the keys to the door of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.  And, unless one is willing to bow at their altar of political fealty they will reject them out of hand.

They have huffed and they have puffed and they have tried to blow the House down.

It’s now time for the fairy tale to end and have the adults send them back to their rooms.

The only criteria for the next Speaker of the House is this:  “Will he or she do the right thing for the country and the party?”

And, in that order.

In order to do the right thing for the country the Speaker of the House has to be able to lead the entire House – not just the Republicans – not just the “Freedom Caucus” – but the entire body.

That includes Democrats – both Liberal and the one that isn’t – Republicans that are Conservative and the one that isn’t – all members of the House of Representatives.

That means regular order should be followed as often as possible, but not be declared an inviolate process should matters require otherwise.  The fact is, regular order is generally better than the alternative but not always.

It also means that the “Hastert Rule” is not a rule of the body, or even a political party, nor is it a means of leadership.

Allowing only votes or action from a majority of the majority is what lead us to ObamaCare – and virtually every major policy initiative of the Obama Presidency that could not have survived if Democrats would not have followed their own version of the “Hastert Rule.”

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have their work cut out for them in the weeks and months ahead.  They need a strong leader who will look to the future of the country and the institution and recognize that Americans are losing confidence in them.  

Americans don’t care about the inside baseball that politicians in Washington are playing about who will or will not be the next Speaker of the House.  They could care less about the demands and dictates of a handful of D.C. politicians who want to toss out one “ruling class” and replace it with their own class of rulers.

Americans don’t care about what it is that Washington politicians care about.  It’s just that simple.

If Republicans don’t get it together and begin to lead the body that the American people gave them the votes to lead in the last two election cycles they will find Americans not caring about keeping Republicans in the House, either.