Congratulations, Mr. Speaker

Congratulations, Mr. Boehner. As expected, you won the battle for Speaker of the House. If reports are correct, you also took the first step to help cause a Republican loss in the presidential election of 2016. By punishing those who voted against you, you sent a “who needs you” message to vast numbers of Republicans who have already been questioning their loyalty to a party from which they increasingly feel alienated.

Those who voted against you were doing their job expressing the wishes of those citizens who sent them to Washington. They also expressed the frustrations of other voters in swing states. Their numbers are growing.

Like many Americans, I am appalled at how President Obama used the Internal Revenue Service to silence his critics. Like many conservatives, I am appalled at the idea that you would use your office to remove your critics from key positions or ensure that they are not on the committees of their choice. When the Wall Street Journal reports that, “Several GOP lawmakers who decided not to vote for Mr. Boehner said they saw consequences…Mr. Boehner wasn’t involved in that decision, a GOP leadership aide said,” that doesn’t pass the smell test. No one thinks that President Obama himself called IRS employees and told them to commit illegal actions against conservative groups. Most conservatives do not doubt that the culture he cultivates means that no direct words from him are necessary. If there are valid reasons for individuals not to be on committees because they opposed you, stand up and explain why that should be. If they are not being kept off committees, stand up and say that. As it is, you look petty and vindictive and the actions bolster the argument of those who feel that both parties are equally corrupt.

Each vote against you represented a huge swathe of Americans. Many of these Americans, like me, spent months in anguish watching Mitt Romney lose a very winnable election. He chose to run his campaign by listening to a cadre of establishment voices and highly paid consultants rather than to the Republican Party base. While some, perhaps most, of these present or past Republicans did pull the lever for Mr. Romney, they did not speak of him with enthusiasm to their co-workers, canvass their neighborhoods for him, put bumper stickers on their cars or contribute in other ways to his campaign. There were many public voices articulating frustration on conservative websites and radio. These were ignored and the election was lost for many of the reasons put forth by those you and your friends see as ‘the wacko Tea Party.’  

You are correct that the American people look to see results of a Republican Congress over the next two years. Grandstanding may not be the best tactic. However, Americans also seek to feel a connection with that Congress. It is not enough for legislators to talk among yourselves, craft bills and calculate votes. You need to build a relationship with Americans.  Rather than trying quixotically to connect with those who will never vote for your party anyway, it would behoove Republicans to actually talk to conservative and conservative-leaning America. By punishing, rather than listening to those who opposed you, you are unintentionally expanding the growth of the Tea Party. It may not be an official third party, but even as a ghost party, it, rather than the ethnic, economic and gender groups the Democratic Party loves to manipulate, is the secret to success in 2016. Neither the establishment nor the Tea Party has the ability to win without joining forces. You can play a role in promoting success.

I feel so passionately about this that I called your office (202-225-0600) and expressed my disappointment. I did this because I truly do wish you well. Our country is in grave danger and you are in a position of leadership. May God give you the wisdom and courage to act as an astute and principled statesman.






11 thoughts on “Congratulations, Mr. Speaker”

  1. You expressed our feelings and frustrations about Mr. Boehner’s re-election as Speaker and the party so clearly I can only say……….thank you.
    Having called and emailed our senator requesting they vote specifically for someone else…the response we received might as well have been “…yawn……” as said senator went on to describe their accomplishments..? … including the phrase “we’re holding them accountable.”
    ….I nearly dropped my coffee and came this close to responding with “define accountable”. However, to paraphrase another Clinton, it was already clear……what difference would it make. (received via email, posted by Susan)

  2. Well said Susan. I attended one Tea Party meeting and what did I find? Most were sole proprietorship business owners like myself. We had strong conservative values and were from all walks of life. Not a bunch of wacco’s just a bunch of smart folks with good values …and this in the most liberal city in the world – San Francisco! (email privately received from Annette, posted by Susan)

  3. My husband often argues against the third party idea because of the Ross Perot history we both witnessed. But when the two major parties feel like one massive betrayal, how long, how painful, and how messy will the growth of a new, third, hopefully active and strong, party be? I wonder if we are in the middle of such a thing.
    On a bad day, I sometimes wish Ralph Nader would have got in the White House. He would have been so surprised by his success that he could have done little more than sit there stunned for at least a year, and then no matter what else he did, we would be better off than we are now. I know, I know, it’s silly. But it did occur to me, one day, after too much news.

  4. James – I completely agree. That’s one of the things that drives me crazy about so many Republican big talkers’ attack on the Tea Party. If we are unwelcome and insulted in the Republican Party, there is a third party already – conservatives who have dropped out.

  5. Much appreciate the kind reply, Susan! I agree with 95% of what the Tea Party stands for in principle, however the only grave concern is demonstrated by what happened before: when third candidate Ross Perot sequestered and divided the Republican vote. Guess what? We wound up with Billy Boy! If a Tea Party candidate captures and dilutes Republican vote, it strengthens the Other Party: the Democratic Progressive Socialist Party (If the moniker fits, wear it!).

  6. James, I know very good and smart people who don’t agree with me. They truly see Ted Cruz (as an example) and the Tea Party as an albatross around Republican necks. Can we come to some agreement? If not, you are right – there is no way for Republicans to win a national election barring the success of what was Mitt Romney’s strategy – stay as bland as possible because people will vote for me because they are unhappy with Obama and the Democrats.

  7. Both column and Jim’s comment are on target. Because of Mr. Boehner’s actions which appear to the grass-roots voter as duplicitous, and the actions of the Republicans that appear to support this duplicity, now the majority of voters that pushed the last great Republican groundswell will feel disenfranchised. This perception may fuel two consequences, both potentially dangerous. One is a surge in defection to a ‘Tea Party.’ The other is indeed a landslide of voter apathy. Why dangerous? Both results can favor the opposing party.
    Have we arrived at the point where we are no longer served by elected officials, but governed by a power elite intent on riding the gravy train and feathering their own nests? If this scenario is accurate, we are passengers aboard a speeding runaway gravy train. Conductors and attendants no longer serve the passengers, but are holed up in the dining car banqueting, quaffing, playing golf? If so, the elite show little regard for where the train is actually going. OR they defer to a mad engineer who is diverting the train to a new and sinister destination of his choosing.

  8. Thank you Susan,
    Your commentary covered the points that I pushed to my Congressman this past week regarding the election of the speaker. I was not as polite as I probably should have been, but I see the consequences of GOP leadership resulting as you predicted. The voters signaled for considerable change and when it is not delivered, I fear that apathy will cause even less participation in the political process. That will open the door for power grabbers to wreak their destruction. Both parties are participating in dismantling the wisdom our Founding Fathers inserted into the structure of our government. Unless we see a sudden increase in courage and integrity we will follow the same path as ancient Rome.

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