Scott Hardie | October 5, 2023
What are your thoughts on the House of Representatives dividing against itself?

Samir Mehta | October 8, 2023
[hidden by request]

Scott Hardie | October 9, 2023
Agreed all around, although the "putting up with the clown car" may be because there's nothing they can do about it. Gaetz is clearly hated by nearly all of the establishment GOP in Congress, but he's taking advantage of the unusual situation to get his way and there's little they can do to stop him, and even less that voters can do.

I haven't followed this super closely, so I may well have missed something. But, writing this as a liberal-minded independent, this is how the situation looks to me:

- The House is functionally split between three political parties at this point, since the hard-right Freedom Caucus won't go along with the establishment GOP on any major votes unless the GOP acquiesces to their outlandish demands. If this is how the Freedom Caucus members behave when they get a tiny amount of power, they cannot be trusted to wield a lot more of it. Gaetz appears to be positioning himself to run for higher office, a prospect that should be loudly denounced for as long as it takes to ensure that it never happens.

- Over the last decade, McCarthy was forced to contort himself like a Twister world champion in order to become Speaker, and the impossibly contradictory demands upon him only intensified after he finally got what he wanted. This was a man who clearly really wanted to be Speaker, even if it was probably impossible. But in the end, do you know what he did? He sacrificed the position in order to do the right thing. Countless people (including me) have gotten exhausted of the constant games being played in Congress over government shutdowns, which force millions of innocent employees to go without income, damage our credit rating in a way that endangers our economy and world standing, and create colossal embarrassments. Unwilling to fail in his responsibility, McCarthy chose to be the adult in the room and work with Democrats to get the funding authorized, leading to a predictable temper tantrum from the obnoxious children in the Freedom Caucus.

- Shame on the Democrats for refusing to support McCarthy in the subsequent motion to vacate. I know, politics is hardball, and Gaetz would have kept repeating the same motion over and over until he got his way. But McCarthy did what few members of Congress ever seem to do and actually governed like a grown-up, putting country ahead of party. They couldn't have supported him for a single round as a symbolic gesture? Not a single member of the Democrats could have put country ahead of party too and voted in support of him? The Democrats came across as only scarcely better than Gaetz in that vote. And double shame on this jackweasel.

With McCarthy out, it seems like the only three types of people who could replace him as Speaker are either 1) another contortionist who prevaricates even better, which is hard to imagine because McCarthy tried it as well as anyone and failed, 2) a hard-liner who crushes Freedom Caucus opposition by taking the gloves off, such as by getting the RNC to withhold future spending on their campaigns, which is also hard to imagine because it's doubtful that anyone has that much back-channel influence, or 3) a Freedom Caucus assclown like Jim Jordan getting the position symbolically and being unable to do anything with it because of entrenched establishment opposition. In other words, this won't resolve until after the 2024 election when House control hopefully won't come down to a handful of GOP seats again, and so the question is, how much worse will things get until then?

Erik Bates | October 13, 2023
I'm guessing Will Rogers never saw this coming.

I don't want to be all doom-and-gloom, as I'm normally a pretty positive, glass half full, kind of person. But I am becoming more and more genuinely concerned for the future of our democracy. Do I think it's going to collapse altogether? No. But I think we are due for a massive sea change in how it functions.

Can we just get to 2026 so we can have a big 250th celebration before things go to absolute shit?

Scott Hardie | October 18, 2023
Agreed! We do seem to be in another turbulent period of political realignment, which we go through every 50-70 years or so, and the last one in the 1960s is not remembered as a time of polite equanimity. So, yes, changes are inevitable. The question is, how much damage will be inflicted, and how permanent will it be? :-(

Weirdly, the country has been stable in many ways in our lifetimes, more so than previously in its history. We haven't had another new state since Hawaii in 1959, the longest period without a new state ever. We haven't had a truly new constitutional amendment since 1971 (not counting a very old one being belatedly ratified in 1992). We've had nine Supreme Court justices since 1869, but the number changed often prior to then. We've had many authorizations of military force over recent decades, but no formal declaration of war since World War II. My point is, when we dread changes to the American system of government, we tend to think of stability as the norm and changes as the exception, but perhaps it would be more accurate to think of change being a routine occurrence throughout American history and this long, stable, post-war period of the last 75 years being the aberration. (I honestly don't know. I'm not a historian. I'm just floating the possibility.)

Steve West | October 18, 2023
Someone asked me if I had plans for the fall. It took me a moment to realize they meant "autumn", not the collapse of civilization.

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