Yes, it’s inside baseball. Yes, most people outside the Beltway or Conservative Twitter don’t give a damn about who replaces John Boehner (R-Ohio) as Speaker of the House of Representatives. But it does matter who takes the gavel. Not just for the operation of the House going forward, but also for the conservative movement going forward, and the prospects of whatever Republican is elected President in 2016 (we hope!).
How did we get here? Led by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) the House Freedom Caucus submitted a motion to vacate the chair and oust Boehner as Speaker. Rather than fight it, the long-time Ohio Republican quit. Why did this wing of the GOP caucus in the House do that? Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) eloquently stated and explained why here: (https://www.facebook.com/repjustinamash/posts/960738233965583) and while I can’t improve on that I would simply summarize that the current leadership in the House has been characterized by inaction, division and disorganization.
Now enters Boehner’s choice to succeed him, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) former Vice Presidential candidate and current chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He’s reluctant to take the job because he rightfully is worried about the effect on his family and the difficulty of the job. However he makes demands that includes a promise that the motion to vacate the chair will never be used by the HFC. That is not only unilateral disarmament, but it removes one of the few tools a caucus has to hold its leader to account. I could see the case for it if Ryan was promising a sharp turn away from the method of running the House the current leadership uses. But to this point Ryan hasn’t done that, and we can’t afford the same kind of leadership.
This is the point where people that read this will say, the House Freedom Caucus wants perfection only. They are too hard line. They don’t want to govern, they have no solutions. And then attack them as the Hell No Caucus or the Do Nothing Caucus. I’ve seen the attacks everywhere. But that isn’t true. They’ve endorsed a candidate for the Speakership who is less conservative than them nearly across the board. That person is Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL). He has laid out his platform (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym8pz-C5yz4) and it’s the right direction for how the House should be run. Webster wants a more inclusive leadership that maintains regular order (using the committee system, allowing amendments on the floor) and focuses on getting appropriation bills passed so that the House isn’t rushing against deadlines and passing things that grow government like the Crominbus.
Boehner and his counterpart in the Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) both promised a return to regular order when they were elected back into the majority in 2010 and 2014 respectively. They haven’t done that, and this isn’t the way a legislature should be run. And despite the fact he isn’t as young or as handsome or as acceptable to a certain faction of the GOP or as well known as Ryan, Webster is the best choice to lead the GOP caucus in the House. We can do better than what we’ve seen the last four years. We can have a leadership that includes everyone, instead of shutting out members that they don’t like. We can have disagreements amongst House Republicans and still see them work together cordially. And we can leave Ryan where he is, doing what he does best, running an important committee and coming up with great reforms to fix and reduce the size of the federal government.
Last Monday, Justin Trudeau led his Liberal party to a stunning comeback in the Canadian Federal Elections. The Liberals were a distant third in 2011 with just 34 seats and gained a whopping 150 seats to take 184 of the 338 available. They nearly doubled their vote to just short of 40% and ejected Stephen Harper’s Conservatives after nearly a decade of rule. There isn’t a Conservative member elected east of Quebec, with most of their members coming from Western Canada.
There are a few different reasons for the defeat Harper and the comeback led by Trudeau, the son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Some of it was Harper fatigue, some of it was a withering attack on the governing Conservatives by the media, and some of it was the lack of a bold Conservative vision articulated by Harper and his party.
But what I’ve seen in the wake of this defeat are Western Conservatives throwing up their hands and saying enough. There are too many takers and not enough makers. We’re sick of subsidizing Eastern Canada and maybe it’s time to breakaway and form our own country.
Of course Canada already has one independence movement in the country, the Bloq Quebecois, who want Quebec to break away. At one time they dominated federal elections in Quebec (they had 48 seats in 2008) but after being reduced to two seats in 2011 they have a rebounded to 10 seats in 2015. While a Western Independence movement might be more dominant in Alberta or some of the other Western provinces they will make it impossible to come up with a center-right challenge to the Liberals.
Moreover Justin Trudeau has moved the Liberals far to the left to win this election. If he follows through on the policies he campaigned for, there will be a backlash against the Liberals at the next election because of the damage to the Canadian economy. That backlash will create an opportunity for Conservatives to dominate the center, remind the voters of their excellent stewardship of the Canadian economy, and take advantage of the Liberals left-ward shift.
My message to frustrated Canadian Conservatives, particularly those in the West, is don’t give up, fight. Fight smarter, fight harder. Four years is a long time in politics. You can turn this around!