The Smartest Decision Boehner Ever Made?

By Nick Richardi, Contributor

Speaker of the House John Boehner struggles to balance the warring factions within the Republican Party. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
Speaker of the House John Boehner struggles to balance the warring factions within the Republican Party.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

As President Lincoln once said “a house divided cannot stand,” and it is especially true within a political party. Currently, a war is raging within the Republican Party between pragmatists and extremists. House Speaker John Boehner had enough of these warring factions, ultimately leading him to resign. Boehner is one of the pragmatic Republicans because he is willing to compromise with Democrats. Compromise, these days, is regarded as a dirty word that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many extremists, who could not even fathom doing such a thing. It is these extremists that are tearing the Republican Party apart and halting any potential progress from occurring in Washington.

My distaste with Boehner differs from many Republicans in that I wish he would have compromised more with Democrats. If Boehner ignored the far right, including the Freedom Caucus, who knows what could have been accomplished during his tenure.  However, had he done so, he probably would not have lasted long as Speaker without the help of House Democrats to keep him in power. Boehner walked on a fine line of trying to accommodate the loud extremist voices of his party while also trying to be realistic about legislation and policy.

Following his resignation, Boehner managed to pass a short-term funding bill that prevented a government shutdown. Extremist opposition within the party did not want the bill to pass if it continued to fund Planned Parenthood. In order to appease them, he implemented a separate vote on Planned Parenthood, which passed in the House but failed in the Senate. As much as Boehner would have loved to defund Planned Parenthood, as a pragmatist, he acknowledged that it his attempt would be ultimately futile.

His resignation implies three things: he surrendered to the far right, he was annoyed by the far right, and he could accomplish more in the house if he resigned. I interpret this as a small “screw you” to his opposition. Without any fears of being ousted as Speaker, he can now freely compromise with the left without the fear of upsetting the extremist side of his political party.

The coveted Speakership is currently being fought over between the two factions, and recently, the favored member to be Boehner’s successor, Kevin McCarthy, dropped out of the race for the gavel. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy echoed Boehner’s concerns over the Freedom Caucus and realized even he could not deal with them. The race is now wide open, as there is no longer a “front runner.” Interestingly enough, there is no mention in the Constitution that the Speaker of the House must be a member of the House of Representatives. In fact, former Speaker Newt Gingrich said he would consider returning to the position.

I hope that they do not choose Gingrich because he is one of the prime reasons Congress is as polarized as it is today. He would make everything worse. Hopefully the Republican Party can find a suitable replacement, one who is willing to work with Democrats and not just stand against them.

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