Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy was elected to the position on Jan. 7, 2023. To get there, he had to make “lots of concessions” to far-right members of the party which “worked relentlessly to weaken the power he’ll have as speaker,” according to NPR.
This seems like a positive for cooperation across parties, because now Republicans and Democrats have to compromise to get anything done. According to CNN, “The GOP … can afford to lose only four votes on any measure.” Thus, the parties must cooperate, right?
Well, not quite. McCarthy named Ohio representative Jim Jordan to be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Jordan refused to comply with a subpoena issued by the Jan. 6 Committee, a spokesman for the representative calling it “another partisan and political stunt” made by said committee.
Hardly the mark of a politician (or a staff) who wishes to cooperate across the aisle with the Committee with seven Democrats and two Republicans.
Another example is shown with McCarthy’s blockage of Democratic House Members Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from keeping their seats on the House Intelligence Panel. The Panel is currently investigating “the origins of the COVID pandemic” and “the politicization of the government,” according to NBC News.
It’s unclear (to me, at least) what house members will take that place instead, but I doubt that McCarthy will elect non-hardline Republicans to the seats.
After 15 rounds and four days of deliberation, Kevin McCarthy finally received the votes he needed. The nation held its breath for what should’ve taken much less time. Since a Republican majority runs the House, you’d think receiving a majority vote would be easy.
Yet, Democratic competitor Hakim Jeffries was supported by all 212 Democratic representatives; McCarthy had little party support.
Far-right representatives themselves are to blame. Disruptive behavior like far-right representative Matt Gaetz voting for Trump continues to drive Congress away from the bipartisanship we need.
When the U.S. government was founded, a pillar of its creation was the two party system. However, the intention of this system was never for it to be as polarized as it is now. Over time, political polarization has only worsened. Issues such as the pandemic, police brutality and abortion received nation-wide attention in 2020. As people took sides on these issues, they aligned their morals closely with their party, thus moving them further out on the political spectrum. Now, it seems any opinion on these issues would categorize someone as a Democrat or Republican.
Political polarization led to Republicans and Democrats in government refusing to cooperate. This also caused conflicts within both parties, which lead to this prolonged election.
Although McCarthy won the position, he needs to use his power to promote bipartisanship within the House. Otherwise, Congress, as well as the rest of the nation, will never be able to progress into the future.