The November election is drawing near and early voting has already commenced in some states. Still, I wonder how many voters truly understand what will result if Republicans control either chamber of Congress next year. I wrote about this possibility in March but now seems like a good time to take another look. Unfortunately, the scenario hasn’t improved.
The House of Representatives is predicted to turn red come January, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) currently has the best chance be the speaker. Over the past several years he has shown time and again that he’s not very smart nor is he a strong leader with wide support among his caucus. Consequently, McCarthy has been forced to curry favor with the hard-right members of the Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee. He knows that without their approval his candidacy for the top job in the House is doomed.
There are already numerous radical members of these two groups. The Republicans who manage to flip House seats in November to secure a GOP majority will add even more extremists to their ranks. Most of them are loyalists of former president Trump who believe the 2020 election was stolen from him. If you remember the Tea Party Republicans who caused chaos when they took control of the House in 2011 and the Freedom Caucus members that savaged then-speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and drove him out of Congress in 2015, these miscreants will make them look like choir boys and girls.
What are their goals? Well, generally, they want to stifle the Democratic agenda, roll back parts of what President Biden has accomplished, investigate the president and his administration unmercifully, cut social safety net benefits and rehabilitate former president Trump. Mostly though, they will cause total dysfunction, weaken the nation and drive Congress’ approval rating into single digits.
Here is just a small sample of what some Republicans have in mind if they get control:
Recently, McCarthy said there will not be a “blank check to Ukraine.” (Russia, are you listening?) He has also threatened to risk a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt by using a debt limit increase as leverage to gain concessions from Biden, possibly on reducing Medicare, Social Security and food stamp benefits.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told members at a conservative confab earlier this year that GOP investigations would help “frame” the 2024 race, according to Politico, and that Republicans needed to make sure Trump wins another term. If he becomes chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, he wants to attack the DOJ and FBI for conducting the search of Trump’s Mar-A-Lago home and will likely threaten steep cuts to their budgets. Jordan’s objective will be to discourage further investigations of the January 6 attack on the Capitol and prevent indictments of Trump and other high-level masterminds of that insurrection.
Jordan’s influence with the Republican base gives him significant sway with McCarthy, who is desperate to be the speaker. The minority leader is also beholden to other popular members, including freshman Rep. Margorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). McCarthy will not only restore the committee assignments she lost in 2021, he promised to give her higher level positions.
So, who is this lady from a rural, northwest Georgia district who reportedly is being considered as Trump’s running mate in 2024?
Well, Ms. Greene is an outspoken Trump loyalist whose many inflammatory Facebook posts and other actions prior to her 2020 election caused Democrats to remove her from committee assignments in February 2021. Among those were suggestions that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other prominent Democrats should be executed, along with FBI agents who were accused of being part of the anti-Trump “deep state.” Greene had also promoted QAnon conspiracy theories and questioned if deadly school shootings were staged. Oh, and she had shared videos with anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim content. Clearly, Greene checks all the boxes of a far-right extremist.
According to Robert Draper’s October 17, NYT article “The Problem of Margorie Taylor Greene”, she told him, “My style would be a lot more aggressive,” referring to McCarthy. Greene added that he would have little choice but to adopt her “more aggressive” approach in attacking Biden. “I think that to be the best speaker of the House and to please the base, he’s going to give me a lot of power and a lot of leeway,” she predicted, “in a flat, unemotional voice,” according to Draper. “And if he doesn’t, they’re [the base] going to be very unhappy about it. —- And that’s not in any way a threat at all. I just think that’s reality.”
Like Trump, Ms. Greene not only lies with ease and frequency, she learned that garnering the enthusiastic support of the ultra-conservative base gives her a commanding position in the GOP. So, she describes herself as a Christian nationalist and has continuously voiced the most extreme of the far-right positions on guns, abortion, transgender youth, immigration, etc., according to Draper’s article. Undoubtedly, Greene will be pushing McCarthy to champion these radical positions too.
There are many serious threats facing the United States today, China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, plus pandemics and the deleterious effects of climate change. Still, I believe the menace that puts the future of our democratic republic in the most peril is the Republican Party.
There can be no doubt, democracy truly is on the ballot in 2022.