The 118th Congress — who is responsible for this train wreck of a legislative body?
Is it them or is it us? Because to quote Erykah Badu, I think we “made a wrong turn back there somewhere.”
How is it possible that the same caucus that drove Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) out of office is thinking of a sequel because their hand-picked replacement in the speaker’s chair, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), is daring to try to govern? It’s as if they expected him to just obstruct until November, while the nation’s business ground to a halt. “No compromise” might be a powerful slogan on the campaign trail, but democracy by definition is compromise.
Yet here we are, with the far-right fringe of the House GOP back to shut down the government if that’s what it takes to get everything they want. Even after we’ve all seen what happens when the Matt Gaetzes actually get what they want.
So really. Who is responsible for this Congress?
Think about it: The same day the MAGA wing fired McCarthy, Hunter Biden was in a federal court in Delaware pleading not guilty to gun charges. Yet because Gaetz, the Republican representative from Florida, and company chose to lead an uprising that day, the only thing anyone talked about was the historic firing of McCarthy. Gaetz took focus away from the president’s son and placed it squarely on himself. Narcissism aside, that was just painfully shortsighted. He didn’t even have the foresight to wait 24 hours to throw his tantrum.
The same political squandering happened again Tuesday as members of the House were considering holding Hunter Biden in contempt for refusing to testify behind closed doors.
Suddenly, the president’s son walks in. And what happens? Egos, meltdowns, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) declaring she’s not an expert on porn.
It was clear from the moment Hunter Biden appeared that the MAGA wing hadn’t even considered the possibility that he would show up to the contempt hearing. This despite him already showing a more aggressive strategy a month ago, when he held an unexpected press conference outside of the Capitol in defiance of their subpoena. Hunter Biden’s confrontational approach is what inspired these lawmakers to gather Tuesday, yet, apparently, no one in that brain trust was prepared for him to try to pull anything similar.
And this is the caucus the 118th Congress is allowing to cause all of the ruckus?
Who is responsible for this?
Do we blame the George Santoses of the world for manipulating voters, or the Republicans who support his ilk just for parroting Trump?
Since 2001, the approval rating of Congress has steadily fallen. It’s an anemic 15% now. After what we’ve witnessed this week, I’m surprised it’s that high. The country’s military involvement in the Middle East is escalating, child care is unaffordable, the climate is in chaos — you name it, there’s plenty of work to be done. Yet Greene is talking about pornography. Why? Because she brought nude pictures of Hunter Biden to the Capitol. And the reason she was able to do that is that Georgians in District 14 believe she’s the best person for the job.
So, who is responsible for the ineptitude of the 118th Congress?
District 1, down in Florida — that’s a political mastermind you got there in Gaetz. If he or one of his colleagues gets antsy for attention, they’re likely to go after Johnson — and then go through the roster looking for the next politician foolish enough to take on that thankless speaker job.
I’m no fan of Johnson’s policies, but I can appreciate his political nimbleness. The revered House speakers of the past all demonstrated an ability to work across the aisle and negotiate deals. “Compromise” was not always a toxic word. In fact, it’s how we forge a way to live together.
Who is responsible for this Congress? It’s tempting to point at them, but the answer is always us. The reason the approval rating of Congress is so low is simply this: For decades now, we’ve been sending our anger and fears to Washington. We need to get back to sending thoughtfulness, maybe even compassion. Some strategic thinking certainly couldn’t hurt.
In the meantime, whatever Congress is doing, or not doing, is what we voted for. Of course we don’t approve. The collective ugliness we see at the Capitol is a reflection of our worst impulses.