Stop Your Bellyaching. Who Said Politics Should Be Cordial?

After a historic 15 rounds of voting, the 118th Congress has elected Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House.

The same nerds who, in the 90s, stayed home on a Friday night so they wouldn’t miss “The X-Files” were the same people who were glued to their screens on this Friday night, breathlessly watching C-SPAN (which deserves an award for their uninterrupted coverage of the congressional chaos) and desperately refreshing Twitter to find out the latest in the Speaker drama.

The hot takes are already burning a hole in the internet.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is a traitor!

Marjorie Taylor Greene is a shrewd player with a bright future.

Matt Gaetz is the worst!

Matt Gaetz is the best!

Yay, Chip Roy!

Boo, Chip Roy!

Some talking heads are saying this was nothing but a pathetic stunt that weakens an already struggling Republican party. The infighting, the deal-making and deal-breaking…Republicans can’t seem to get on the same page, all the while Democrats sit in the next aisle, smugly snickering and completely united. Why can’t the Republicans get in line for the greater good?

When I was running for school board last November, I had to go to my county Republicans and seek their endorsement. At the official endorsement session for all county-wide candidates, the atmosphere became extremely heated. Two Republicans were going toe-to-toe for our state assembly seat – one an “establishment” candidate and the other a “grass-roots” candidate. Regardless of the winner, this seat would be red, but now the issue was about which would claim the official endorsement. The room was quite obviously divided, both candidates having significant support.

Audience members shouted from their seats. Delegates threw curses at each other from across the room. People booed, people cheered, lots of people yelled. One esteemed Republican donor shouted her support for the “establishment” guy, and in the next breath shouted at the biggest support of the “grass-roots” candidate to, “Go f*** yourself!”

I really don’t enjoy the insider political scene, and had found it mostly to be tedious. But watching all those grown-ups, those politicos, fight so openly and viciously, I found myself taken aback…and fascinated. That meeting was not at all what I’d expected.

Afterward, I asked a friend if it was always like that at these things. “No,” he said, disappointedly. “I’ve never seen anything like that. I was really disappointed. There’s no reason for it to get so contentious.”

I had to disagree. It was certainly unsavory to witness. It definitely wasn’t comfortable. But I had to admit that it is unreasonable to think everyone in any given group thinks the same about anything. Would we even want that? Yes, at some point a party has to unify and present a united front. But how do you get there? Is it reasonable to assume that everyone comes to the table already united? What were these meetings even for if we were only there to rubber stamp the “inevitable” choices?

That arguing had been ugly, but it was the sign of a passionate constituency that was ready to fight for their point of view. Why shouldn’t they yell at each other? There was a lot at stake. Politics, particularly at the local level, are extremely important. Shouldn’t we argue about important things? Shouldn’t it be a hard-won battle to come to consensus? I’m not sure being agreeable is a great political strategy.

That’s what I saw when I looked at the chaos on the House floor on Friday. Why shouldn’t the Republicans be battling it out in front of the world? Everyone there is elected to fight on behalf of their constituents. Rubber-stamping the “inevitable” choice just for the sake of unity is not only a betrayal to the purpose of the position, but it’s also boring. A robust Republic deserves a robust defense, and sometimes that means drawing a little blood.

Who said politics were supposed to be cordial? They have rarely been thus. Even our Founding Fathers bickered and fought vehemently both before and after ratifying our Constitution. Would we have such a unique and world-changing document if those men had not argued and pushed and pulled until they got it right (or at least as right as possible at the time)? Progress and restraint are the bedfellows of freedom.

Everyone complaining about the ugliness of Friday night in the House chamber needs to go put on their big boy underwear. Politics is an ugly game, but I’d rather be a witness than a fool. Why should our representatives have the luxury of making all their deals (many at our expense) behind closed doors? Let’s see how the sausage gets made.

Let the American people see the process of unity in all its hideous glory.

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