Democrats and the mainstream media might be mocking, but Rep. Andy Biggs is looking at the bigger picture.
The Arizona Republican was one of the chief architects of the opposition to Rep. Kevin McCarthy becoming speaker of the House of Representatives.
And even after McCarthy won the post early Saturday after a brutal week of battles on the House floor, Biggs sees three big wins for his own side — and for the country as a whole.
In a statement released Saturday night, Biggs maintained his air of defiance, noting that he had stayed “true to my word that I would not vote for Kevin McCarthy as House speaker despite facing immense pressure from his machine.”
My official statement regarding the House Speaker’s race: pic.twitter.com/CWeCWF3IS6
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) January 8, 2023
McCarthy won the speakership on the 15th ballot, the most required to choose a House speaker since before the Civil War. (In 1860, the year before the war, it took 44 ballots to produce a speaker, as National Review’s Dan McLaughlin wrote last week in a history of speaker contests that’s well worth the read. In 1856, it took a record 133 ballots.)
The resolution of this year’s fight depended on Biggs and five fellow McCarthy opponents voting “present” rather than for a specific individual. That lowered the number of votes necessary for a majority of the House from 218 to 216. McCarthy got 216 votes to defeat Democrat Hakeem Jefferies of New York, who received 212 lock-step Democratic votes (totalitarians have always prized party discipline).
The road was paved with plenty of jibes from the left, of course.
The thoroughly repugnant Rep. Ted Lieu, the California Democrat, kicked off the proceedings by posting a picture of himself headed to the House floor carrying a bag of popcorn — as though the Republican fight was merely entertainment for the coastal left.
About to go to the House Floor. pic.twitter.com/81QVxmbHBb
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 3, 2023
And, naturally, former Comedy Central host and inveterate liberal Jon Stewart chimed in:
This is the best season of cspan…ever.
— Jon Stewart (@jonstewart) January 4, 2023
— Alex Watson (@imalexwatson) January 4, 2023
like this, Jon? pic.twitter.com/iS4XYKQ84x
— Gustavo 🇨🇦 (@GusRodrigues86) January 4, 2023
There was plenty more.
On a more sober note, The Washington Post’s Phillip Bump weighed in with a portentous column portentously titled, “The House speaker fight is a microcosm of the GOP’s national problem,” which basically blamed the Republican Party’s failure to effectively cohere on that fact that it has … Republican voters.
(Actually, Bump took a stab at blaming it on Tucker Carlson, Twitter and, of course, Donald Trump, but he was hammering what he called “the base,” which is another way of saying the people who cast votes. Funny how that works.)
The broader view, from the standpoint of the country’s history and future versus the past two years or the next two, is that it happened. It was messy, unruly at times, maybe bordering on chaotic, but it got done.
And from the tone of Biggs’ statement, the opponents should have no regrets, since the was really a reminder of what type of government the United States has — a republic, made up of men and women elected by their constituents to represent them. In a nation of more than 330 million, that representation, if it’s honest, is going to be, almost by definition, messy, unruly and bordering on chaotic.
(If it’s representated by the Democratic Party, on the other hand, it’s more likely to be statist, bordering on Stalinist. The party’s claim to admire “diversity” is literally skin deep. Get past the melanin factor, and respect for diversity of thought is a rare thing on the left.)
In his statement, Biggs cited three reasons the fight over the House speakership for the 118th Congress and its new House Republican majority was worthwhile, even if the new speaker is not particularly to his liking.
“First, we deliberated as a body for the first time in a long time and showed glimpses of what a bona fide constitutional republic should look like. We ought to keep doing that,” he wrote.
“Second, we secured concessions that decentralize power from Leadership and gives power back to the people. And finally, we proved that the House Speakership is earned, not given.”
Those are all worth remembering — particularly the first two.
The U.S. Congress has spent decades passing laws without any serious deliberation — thousands of pages of text get passed into law without even being read by the men and women voting on them. (The monstrosities of spending packages by House Democrats — with Orwellian names like the “American Rescue Plan” and the “Inflation Reduction Act” — are just the most recent examples.)
Beyond the “deliberations” on display on McCarthy’s road to the speaker’s chair, one point won by his opponents was a rule requiring at least 72 hours for House members to review legislation before it’s voted on. That at least has the potential to slow down run-away spending trains before they take the country completely off the rails.
Decentralizing leadership in the House was also a bigger point than it will get credit for. Under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s two tenures in power, the House was an institution run entirely by its elite exercising raw power — from the 2010 passage of Obamacare (remember Pelosi’s immortal, “we have to pass it, so you can find out what is in ?”) to the Inflation Reduction Act, it was pretty much the opposite of the people’s House envisioned by the Founders.
Republican Paul Ryan’s tenure from January 2015 to January 2019 didn’t have anywhere near the same monarchic feel to it — Republicans were too divided for that, as they are now. It’s a rock-solid bet there will be damn little that’s monarchic about McCarthy’s speakership.
The point here is that, as embarrassing as the fight over the House speaker position was, and as disappointing as it was for conservatives and Republicans who half-expected the House Oversight Committee to be knee-deep into its investigations of Hunter Biden and the Biden White House by now, Biggs has a point.
No matter what point on the political spectrum an individual American might have been watching from, the week’s dramatics in the House of Representatives proved to the country and the world that the U.S. really is a constitutional republic.
Power changes hands and is channeled in the government through elections, not coronations.
And representative government, at least when Republicans are in charge, means representing ideas of government, not marching in knee-jerk fashion to the orders from on high.
That’s the system that has kept the world’s oldest democratic republic still functioning as the world strongest democratic republic.
That’s the bigger picture every American should keep in mind.
Kevin McCarthy, the House and the country as a whole could well be better for it.
Democrats might even have learned something — but don’t count on it.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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