Jim Crawford: Freedom Caucus strategy is to burn down the House

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 9, 2023

Kevin McCarthy lost his job as speaker of the House of Representatives. Does it matter? 

As McCarthy was weak, agreeing to an impeachment investigation in search of a reason, allowing the government to nearly shut down for reasons known to no one, not keeping to his word with the president on the May budget agreement and accepting a destructive rule that would allow one member to call for a vote to end his term as speaker. 

All things considered, McCarthy deserved what he received: A boot out of one of the most important jobs in American politics.

Email newsletter signup

 But, in the most recent decade, when Republicans ruled the House, their speakers, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, were also chastised by the radical right of Republican politics and resigned from their speakerships. 

The message cannot be misconstrued. A small minority of Republican extremists who would burn the House down have held and gained power. At the same time, the moderate Republicans, who still think governing might be a part of the job, have lost what little functional purpose the caucus has had over the decade.

 The Freedom Caucus, the misnomer for the conspiracy theorists and QAnon subscribers who comprise the group, gladly and glibly takes credit for attempting to cause a credit default earlier this year and for attempting to shut down the government last month for the false claim of fiscal sobriety –  by the very same representatives who voted for nearly $8trillion in debt during the Trump presidency. 

Yes, the biggest debt spenders in our entire fiscal history have suddenly gotten religion on fiscal sanity after emptying the frig of all but the condiments on their watch.

 So, with this as the background for the Freedom Caucus, is it any surprise that they wish to elect one of their own, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, of Ohio, to the speakership of the House? And why not hire the skipper of the Titanic to navigate icy waters in times of political crisis? 

What could go wrong with Jordan as speaker other than the total failure of the Republican House to govern at all?

 Now comes the newest political spear-fishing idea, Red Caesarism. Red Caesarism is the latest idea of America’s radical Right, the concept that we need to collapse our government to the point of dysfunction to usher in a new, post-constitutional form of leading with an all-powerful executive who will restore the needs of the people. Sound like anyone you know?

We know Donald really, really wanted to stay in office after losing to Biden in 2020, but do we not also know Trump has been describing how his next presidency would embrace ending free speech for his political opponents, investigating his critics and demanding loyalty oaths to himself by everyone?

Red Caesarism should sound frightening to anyone who loves democracy, but it is up to voters to ensure that the thin veil that protects us from losing it all is the vote. 

In five of the last seven general elections, Republicans have won the House. And, given this fact, considering Republican policies now advanced or possibly proposed, they may win again in 2024.

 But that is up to you when you vote.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.