In another sign of the chaos with which Republicans govern so poorly, the most extremist and pro-Donald Trump wing unseated the House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, for not ceding to their pressure to close the government if he did not add, among other things, anti-immigrant measures to the government spending package. It’s the first time in history something like this has happened.
It’s been a palpable demonstration of the undeniable and sinister power that the most extremist wing of the Republican Party, the one that is always more anti-immigrant, the one that promotes hate rhetoric wherever it wants and with absolutely no remorse. The same one that has encouraged unstable individuals to carry out acts of domestic terrorism, killing large numbers of minorities, as in El Paso in 2019.
The very fact that McCarthy worked with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown was the straw that broke the camel’s back for those MAGA extremists, led by Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, who presented the motion to vacate the Speaker’s office, which was finally approved with a vote of 216-210. It’s clear that in politics there are strange bedfellows and in this opportunity, the Democrats opted to support the removal of McCarthy because they realized it wasn’t their job to save his. Let’s say that Democrats’ antipathy toward McCarthy was well-earned.
The eight Republicans who said “checkmate” to McCarthy are some of the same ones who lead the efforts to keep him from becoming elected to the Speakership. There were 15 votes in January before his election, and McCarthy accepted all of the demands imposed on him from the MAGA bench, including that just one Member of Congress could present a motion to vacate the Speakership, which turned out to cost him the position.
Tangled in a web of his own making, McCarthy had no choice but to accept that his “toughness” as an intransigent, and certainly anti-immigrant leader, was not enough to win, nor to convince members of his own party, who have demonstrated that they’ll do whatever it takes to consolidate their supremacist opposition, even if that means devouring one of their own.
In other words, the MAGA side that is behind this whole political soap opera is honoring their leader, Trump, and is an agent of chaos that has shown its incapacity to govern in an effective way. They prefer to shut the government down, with all of the negative implications for the citizenry, if that advances their cause, such as including a list of demands to continue constructing the border wall and undermining asylum laws in the spending measure.
Before the 45 days of the continuing resolution that is keeping the government operating expire, we will continue to see Republican efforts to try to include their punitive border measures and their attack on asylum laws—the same proposals that they use as an electoral strategy.
Ultimately, this new political move is confirming that this country—as a permanent social experiment—is being tested yet again and that we are all part of this moment, this new era of practicing politics. Unfortunately, what is happening today in real time is not a product of our imagination, but a real threat to the common good and, by extension, democracy.
That is, what’s frightening about all of this is that it’s just the tip of the iceberg, because if the MAGA Republicans are capable of unseating their own chamber leader, considering him to not be sufficiently radical, what can we expect if Trump wins the Republican nomination and is elected in 2024?
Essentially, to be witnesses to what they are capable of doing in service of Trump—he who still moves the threads of this chaos into which the legislative power of the most emblematic democracy of world has fallen—it is, at least, crucial to be prepared in the best way possible and face what the country is heading toward in the coming months. And it doesn’t look good, with all of the MAGA Republicans shuffling their positions, like always.
Trump, who is accused of 91 criminal charges, has a list of Democrats on which he wants to exact revenge. That is precisely his goal for returning to the White House: to continue undermining democracy and look for a way to complete, in a second term, all that was left pending, especially on the issue of immigration.
In recent days, Trump’s meetings have demonstrated an ex-president consumed by a thirst for revenge against those who, according to him, “stole” the 2020 election and, therefore, humiliated him. The same thirst for revenge that led Gaetz to present the motion to remove McCarthy. The same thirst for revenge that threatens to continue undermining our institutions and our democracy.
Therein lies the urgency to register and vote: to keep the agents of chaos from prevailing in 2024.