The Republican Conundrum: Where’s the Speaker of the House?

Dominica Cao ’19
Contributing Writer

No one wants to be Speaker of the House. It’s a dangerous game of hot potato in the U.S. House of Representatives with politicians literally running away from the position. This past month, screams of chaos have become the norm for Congress in its current messy and divided state.

There actually happens to be three parties in the House, as the Republicans are split between the anti-establishment extremists of the Freedom Caucus and the rest of the GOP who weren’t taken seriously enough to be allowed admission into this not-so-secretive society. The majority party is unable to come to terms with its own group, and therefore nothing is solved and the Speaker gets all the blame. Recently, however, a few members have been moving away from their traditional party’s ways and are instead exhibiting signs of thoughtfulness, understanding and selfless sacrifice.

Remember Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker? It’s okay if you don’t – he ran for the Republican nomination for only three months before dropping out on Sept. 21. Why he spent around $90,000 per day on campaigning to then drop out, no one can say for sure. Perhaps because he ran out of funding, or maybe his ratings tanked after a “Meet the Press” interview with NBC, which led to speculation that he planned to build a wall between the U.S. and Canada. Nevertheless, Walker quit and made the thoughtful proclamation in his announcement that he wanted to “lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field.”

Walker believed that he was justified in resigning from the race and implored the remaining candidates to bow out so that “voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner.” No doubt referring to “die-hard” candidate Donald Trump, Walker’s resignation began a copycat effect in Congress.

Only four days later, Speaker of the House John Boehner would sing “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah!” as he announced stepping down from his position in late October. What a wonderful day it must have been for him! Boehner could finally escape the prospect of a government shutdown that he believed was necessary because “prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution.” Boehner was merely doing a service to his nation. All the Republican party needed to do now was simply select a new candidate.

However, turmoil quickly ensued. Kevin McCarthy, the next in line to succeed Boehner, also dropped out of the race. Politicians are now scrambling to find a replacement, and all viable candidates are refusing to accept the position. So, here we are, left with the possibility of a House of Representatives with no worthy leader.

The World Economic Forum reported a “lack of leadership” as one of the top three trends in 2015, speculating that the rise of private-sector business leaders make governmental deadlock and limited progress look crippled in comparison. People are left wondering if the institution is “just holding us back.”

But how can leaders win back our trust? The report concluded that they need to “listen and include the opinions of others,” have a “global interdisciplinary perspective,” prioritize “social justice and well-being over financial growth” and possess “team-building” skills. Well, we can bid adieu to the bulk of right-wing candidates now and empathize when McCarthy said, “I am not that guy.”

It appears that Scott Walker was onto something when he made it clear that sometimes the best thing a leader can do is to quit. Perhaps quitting is indeed the solution – and maybe every conservative in the House should follow suit, as none can successfully fill in for the leader of the House. It can be said without a doubt that Republicans are facing quite a conundrum. Luckily for us, we will have a front row seat to observe exactly how this mess plays out.

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