DANIEL VAUGHAN: The Do-Nothing Caucus has taken over the Republican Party

The 2022 election was a disaster for Republicans. They left 2022 worse in the Senate and with the smallest possible majority in the House. With such challenging margins, you’d expect people to work carefully to achieve the limited goals attainable. You’d be wrong.

I take P.J. O’Rourke’s point: “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” But sometimes, you need someone with the power to take away the keys and lock up the whiskey.

Instead of trying to make lemonade with the mountain of lemons they got, Republican arsonists are pouring gasoline on everything. They’re lighting fire to their own majority. Instead of building a consensus to begin investigations of the Biden administration, we get a circular firing squad.

Republicans snatch even more defeat from the jaws of victory.

The only people to show up and leave a circular firing squad alive are your enemies. Napoleon remarked, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” That’s why Democrats are showing up to every vote with popcorn. The Republican Party burning down its majority before it ever takes form is the next best gift they could get, aside from winning the majority.

Whatever the result is from Republicans snatching even greater defeat from the jaws of victory, one thing is sure: Republican House leadership is irrevocably broken. Even if Kevin McCarthy decided to step aside, his successor would face similar or worse constraints demanded by these drunk teenagers.

Upon taking power in the House in 2010, Republicans got rid of earmarks, which made dealmaking more difficult. That reform ended when Democrats returned to power, allowing them to cut deals again. They immediately passed billions in earmarks to get their pet projects through budget negotiations. Republicans had to walk back the ban, too, to play ball.

Republicans kneecap themselves while Democrats laugh. It’s an ongoing series of failures from House Republicans. 

House Republicans seek defeat before the starting gun sounds off.

Among the proposals from House Republicans seeking to make the same mistake, they want to be able to toss the Speaker at any time. Politico reports that one proposal calls for “allowing a single member to force a vote on ousting the speaker … essentially guaranteeing that if [McCarthy] does land the gavel, it’s never fully safe.”

It’s pure lunacy to think allowing one person to call for a vote of no confidence at any time is wise. You’re asking for chaos, especially if Democrats can exercise that power against you.

Politico added in a separate piece that Democrats were “basking in the speaker schadenfreude.” Because it’s not just rank incompetence on display. The entire Republican agenda, such that it exists, is on ice. Things are approaching such a grinding halt that basic duties like constituent aid might end since nothing in the House can commence without a Speaker.

The idiot core of Republicans who think they’re getting some great deal of reforms is achieving nothing. They’ve kneecapped a thin majority before it ever does anything. Democrats are laughing and waiting for their moment to pounce. The longer the chaos goes on, the better of a deal that will open up for Democrats.

Democrats await their chance to pounce.

That’s where things are headed: Republicans are blocking their own leadership and opening the door to Democrats getting partial control of the House. The arsonists may think they’re funny tossing out votes for people who don’t want the job or Donald Trump. But the Democratic threat is real, and they’re looking for that opening.

It’s hard to disagree with the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board, which said:

The problem any GOP leader faces today is that too many Republicans don’t really want to hold and keep political power. They’re much more comfortable in opposition in the minority, which is easier because no hard decisions or compromises are necessary. You can rage against “the swamp” without having to do anything to change it. This is the fundamental and sorry truth behind the Speaker spectacle and the performative GOP politics of recent years.

The 19th Century had the Know-Nothings as a major political force. The modern Republican Party has the “Do-Nothings,” people who want to get elected but never use power when given it. Voters elected a Republican House majority. They’re asking Republicans to take some action.

The Do-Nothings rule Congress.

The Do-Nothings would instead claim Kevin McCarthy is a closet Democrat and weaken him so much that Republicans can’t do a thing. These aren’t crusading reformers trying to make Congress better. They weaken Republicans while aiding Democrats. 

The Do-Nothings want to spend their days on cable television without legislating and being a Representative. If they want to opine on politics, they can have my column. They can write here, and I’ll take their job as a Representative or Senator. Or we can choose someone at random from their community who’d likely take the job more seriously. 

There are excellent conservative legislative ideas to enact out there. There are investigations to be run. Kevin McCarthy isn’t the best man to run the show, but he is the only person willing to do the job. House Republicans should move on to doing the work or resigning.

No Republican voted for Republicans to stop other Republicans. You might find some closet Democrats who think that way, though.