April 19, 2014

Why "Firing Boehner" is not the Answer

I understand the frustration with John Boehner, I really do. I’d love to have a staunch conservative leading the charge in the House, but the simple fact is that such leadership does not exist. Also remember that WE voted for our representatives. They’re not these mythical “RINOs” who fell from the sky only to wreck havoc in Washington.

Furthermore, while I understand the reasoning behind the movement, I’m strongly frustrated with the “Fire Boehner” initiative. To me, it’s nothing short of a pipe dream. A pipe dream with little possibility of making any change in fact. If you read the procedural rules of the House, here are the possibilities for how this situation might shake out in January.

1.) Boehner is elected with 218 votes (a simple majority). There will be 234 Republicans and 200 Democrats in the House. Special elections for Illinois’ 2nd district and Missouri’s 8th district will be held sometime next year. It is far within John Boehner’s power to garner 218 votes for the speakership, even if a few Republicans abstain or vote for another candidate. The Democrats have nominated Nancy Pelosi as their speaker candidate, but even if every single Democrat votes for her, she does not have a shot at the speakership.

2.) Somehow, 17 Republicans either abstain or vote for another candidate, which is exactly what the “Fire Boehner” movement hopes occurs. If this happens, the House will be thrown into chaos. The Speaker of the House MUST get a simple majority (218) votes to be elected. If they are incapable of achieving this, roll will be called until a candidate achieves the simple majority. In 1855 and 1859 (right before the Civil War), it too two whole months to elect a speaker because the factional divisions within the House made a simple majority impossible. They eventually elected a speaker with only a plurality of the votes in order to stall the factionalism. Do we really want that? Do we really want the GOP more divided than it already is? I sure don’t want that, but you know who does? Barack Obama. The more infighting there is in the GOP, the more power Democrats can seize. Remember, “United we stand, divided we fall.” A House divided literally not stand. I would rather not play right into President Obama’s plans.

3.) In the worst case scenario, it’s possible for Nancy Pelosi to become Speaker of the House even though her party is still in the minority. Assuming that all 200 of the Democrats vote for Pelosi, if a mere 35 Republicans abstain from voting, Pelosi will get the speakership. Abstentions do NOT count toward the final quarom. Thus, Pelosi will have 200 out of 399 votes, which will give her the simple majority. Ask yourself, do we really want that? 

4.) Somehow, 218 Republicans vote for someone other than John Boehner for speaker. You might be able to get a handful of people to side with someone else, but 218? There’s no way. 

Finally, what is getting rid of Boehner going to do? The guy has A LOT of allies in the House, so it’s likely that he will be replaced by someone of the same ideological bent. Would I love to have Paul Ryan as Speaker? Sure, but don’t forget that even Ryan is an ally of John Boehner. If you don’t think he had a hand in the supposed conservative “purges,” think again.

Furthermore, name who you would like to replace Boehner. I’ve heard a few suggestions, but the discussion on Boehner’s “replacement” is just as divided as the House itself. We would need 218 people to stand by someone else. Not. Going. To. Happen. Also, name a leader who has said officially that they will be running against Boehner. There simply isn’t one. Leadership is not selected by the demos collectively. Leadership is something that’s built internally. If you want someone to run against Boehner, you’ll have to back someone who is already in the running. If you have to force a Representative to run for Speaker, we don’t have a shot. 

Thus, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think John Boehner is a staunch conservative and he kinda sucks at negotiating, but we elected him. We elected the House of Representatives who chose him as Speaker. The onus will fall us us in 2014 and 2016. Do you want more conservative leadership? Don’t complain. BE those leaders. Make sure we have a culture that Washington will emulate. Politicians are reflections of us. Let me repeat that. Politicians are reflections of us. If we can BE the moral people and the conservatively minded citizens we want to see in Washington, then our politics will change to suit culture.

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