The Republican party plunged into further disarray yesterday as Rep. Jim Jordan’s bid to become House Speaker was voted down by 20 members of his own party, the latest humiliation for the GOP and its ineffective leadership.
The continuing inability of Republicans to unite behind a Speaker nominee highlights deep divisions within the caucus between the rapidly growing faction of election-denying radicals and the dwindling band of institutionalists clinging to the party’s traditional values.
It also proves the wisdom of an aggressive new Democratic strategy to abandon their role as dutiful enablers and instead allow Republicans to unravel in full public view, maximizing the damage to their rivals.
By the time you read this, it’s possible Jordan has strong-armed and cajoled his way to the 218 votes he needs to seize the gavel, installing arguably the most extreme Speaker in modern history. But the chaotic process has already exposed the GOP’s lack of basic governing competence and cohesion.
For Democrats, the Republican disarray looks to be a winning hand regardless of the eventual outcome.
A Speaker Jordan Would Hand Democrats a Dream Opponent
Jordan as Speaker may seem like a nightmare scenario for Democrats given his place as a ringleader of the post-2020 election conspiracy and the fact that he’d be two heartbeats from the presidency.
But his high-profile role could prove an electoral gift, providing Democrats with an instantly unpopular villain to run against in the 2024 campaigns.
Few major party figures are as inherently repellent to moderates and swing voters as the bellicose Jordan, a toxicity not lost on the handful of remaining Republican institutionalists actively working to block his ascension.
The little-known sexual abuse scandal from Jordan’s past as an assistant wrestling coach, in which he allegedly ignored reports of molestation, would be endless fodder for attack ads casting him as an extremist with a history of enabling abuse.
Even by the standards of today’s GOP, Jordan sits firmly on the outer ideological fringe, a fact television cameras capture every time he delivers his trademark red-faced tirades.
Recent polling shows Jordan to be the least popular of the Speaker candidates among Republican voters, let alone the broader electorate. He may energize small-dollar donors, but risks repelling swing voters.
The built-in unpopularity of congressional leaders is only likely to be exacerbated in Jordan’s case given his pugnacious persona so ill-suited to the diplomacy and compromise integral to the role.
Jordan’s Policies Are Extremely Divisive and Unpopular
A Speaker Jordan would also be the face of the GOP’s deeply divisive policy agenda, including a proposed nationwide abortion ban in the wake of the Dobbs decision.
With the White House veto pen as a backstop, Democrats would happily spend 2024 running against Jordan as the spokesperson for stripping reproductive rights from tens of millions of American women.
The same goes for his advocacy of extreme austerity policies like tying spending cuts to the debt ceiling that even business groups have warned would spark economic crisis.
Jordan checks every box as an ideal Democratic foil. The more power he attains, the clearer the stakes become for voters repelled by Trumpism but still up for grabs.
Chaos Exposes a Rudderless, Incompetent Republican Party
Yet the beauty of the current Democratic approach is transcending the singular threat of Speaker Jordan. By refusing to supply the votes needed for Republicans to organize the House, Democrats have removed the safety net, exposing their rivals as fundamentally unready and incompetent when it comes to basic governance.
The dozen failed Speaker votes have laid bare a party in utter disarray, lacking even the basic cohesion and organization to elect their leader.
It’s a pitiful spectacle likely to tarnish Republicans ahead of high-stakes legislative battles over funding the government and raising the debt ceiling.
For years, Democrats have partnered with moderate Republicans to shield the country from the turmoil of unilateral GOP rule. They helped sink Obamacare repeal in 2017 and regularly supply votes to avoid fiscal cliffs and shutdowns.
But with moderates purged, Democrats have adapted, no longer covering up the harsh truth that today’s radicalized Republicans simply cannot function in power alone.
By forcing them to walk the plank, Democrats are wisely clarifying the choice for voters between an extremist GOP vision and a Democratic Party capable of governing responsibly.
Patience Is Key as Republicans Stew in Humiliation
There may come a point where averting fiscal or economic ruin requires supplying Republicans with enough votes for a Speaker and basic House organization. But we’re not there yet.
For now, the optimal course is to stay united and let the GOP humiliation continue. The longer it draws out, the deeper the damage to their already abysmal public standing.
Voters are witnessing Republican dysfunction and unfitness for governing in real time. The contrast offered by Democrats in Congress and the steady leadership of President Biden is increasingly stark.
Once Republicans somehow choose a leader, Democrats can pivot to draw consistent attention to the extremism of their agenda while juxtaposing it with their own mainstream values.
Speaker McCarthy may have allowed the GOP to save face but robbed Democrats of a golden opportunity to cement an accurate narrative regarding Republican radicalization in the minds of voters.
Sometimes politics requires patience and allowing events to unfold slowly to reveal underlying truths. Democrats are finally learning that lesson. For the sake of the country, let’s hope Republican voters are too.
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