What do you get when you put a bunch of people who hate government in office to run government?
The antics of the so-called Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives answers that question with their latest nutty attempt to shut down the federal government—and they’re trying their best to do just that.
Rational people might wonder why anyone would think shutting down the government in a nation of 335 million citizens would be a good idea. And they’d be right—it’s not a good idea, it’s a radical approach from those without the skills to successfully negotiate their positions on budget and policy, so they just take a flamethrower to the government they appear to hate.
We’ve seen this sorry political theater before and the reruns are getting real old. In this particular instance, after the utter chaos of not even being able to elect a speaker for their own thin Republican majority, they finally came up with one of their own. Mike Johnson is an election denying, right-wing evangelical Christian from Louisiana with exactly zero experience in any leadership position. He’s never even led a committee, but now, he’s the Speaker of the House. And what do you know, only weeks into his new role the rabid dogs of the Freedom Caucus are sticking the shiv in his back.
It’s particularly ironic since Speaker Johnson actually came up with a two-prong approach to the government funding dilemma—one continuing resolution to cover certain agencies and functions that will carry through to January and another to carry through till February.
Although initially criticized by the White House and various members of the Senate because the measures didn’t include a hundred billion more dollars for the wars in Ukraine and Israel, when the cooler heads (and much more experienced) took stock of the situation in the House they realized this was about as good as they were going to get from the continuing clown show chaos that passes for governance in that sorry chamber.
One might suspect that, given that the House Freedom Caucus only has three dozen members, the 400 representatives outside their circle of crazies would simply relegate them to a corner and let them stew over their various imaginary problems. I mean, couldn’t they keep busy trying to impeach Biden without a shred of evidence and leave governing to those capable of and willing to do so?
As it turns out, the ramifications of their dysfunction—as well as the ever more violent rhetoric from the former president—are indeed having an impact on the American populace, including fracturing the dominant two-party system.
People have increasingly had it with both Republicans and Democrats—especially when facing a Biden-Trump re-run. The result? The phony “No Labels Party,” wacky anti-vaxxer Robert Kennedy Jr., Jill Stein jumping in as Green Party presidential candidate, and even that climate catastrophe denying old coal baron, Joe Manchin, heading off on a “tour of America” in search of his misnamed “centrists” while teasing a presidential run.
The simple truth is the chaos in the House—and its inability to fulfill the functions of Congress—are even causing longtime Republican members to call it quits. They’re tired of the drama, the pointless political theater, and the idiocy of the Freedom Caucus’ unending attempts to trash the government.
But then again, that’s what you get when you put people who hate the government in charge of the government—and it’s something worth remembering come election time.
George Ochenski is a longtime Helena resident, an environmental activist and Montana’s longest-running columnist.
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