Get your popcorn ready, because a gut-wrenching level of drama has gripped the House of Representatives! To quote Democratic minority leader Hakeem Jeffries, “The Republican party is currently in a civil war.”
Last week, Speaker Kevin McCarthy slid over to a lectern and called for an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. After rabidly weaponizing the term “corruption,” he turned around and walked away, assuming he had performed another crucial task required of him, regardless of how absurd that effort was in his attempt to retain his tenuous position.
He is on the same ignoble level as Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Lindsey Graham, and many others who have sullied themselves in mounds of filth in an effort to support and appease former President Trump. It also revealed how craven and obsessed they all are with residing within the periphery of power, regardless of how corrupt or unethical it is to engage in such derelict antics. It appears that little, if anything, is off limits for these morally broken and ethically empty individuals. McCarthy has permanently etched his name and legacy alongside this long and morally degenerate group.
Before securing the speakership, McCarthy had to deny that Trump was lying about the 2020 election after previously denouncing Trump’s scurrilous behavior on Jan. 6, 2021. He had to twist himself back and forth like a weather vane while asking Trump for forgiveness.
As many of us remember, McCarthy needed 15 rounds of voting to land the House speakership. He finally succeeded only by offering political concessions and compromising himself by giving every member of his caucus the power to call to remove him at any given moment. Thus, as a result of such shameless concessions, he is constantly at the beck and call of the loud, unhinged and deliriously reactionary Republican far-right wing House Freedom Caucus.
That motley crew of rapacious Republicans is just the latest in a historically long line of American right-wing activists, from the conservative John Birch Society to the White Citizens Council of mid-20th century America. Those were organizations committed to fighting influences such as racial integration and communism.
Other right-wing organizations of the late 20th century, such as the Moral Majority and American Enterprise Institute, saw it as their mission to turn back the tide of supposed liberal radicalism they claimed had poisoned and morally debased American society. Recent outfits (and there are many), such as The Eagle Forum, America First and Judicial Watch, have focused on multiple issues in an effort to advance their right-wing agenda.
The Freedom Caucus, drunk on their own power, made it clear to McCarthy they are coming after him. As a result, he has conjured up a ludicrous impeachment inquiry against Biden to serve as a decoy, a diversionary tactic for the time being. That is without having the votes needed to do so.
McCarthy’s latest cave-in to his far-right flank has revealed a few things. His speakership is in far more jeopardy than many Americans may realize. A small, yet vocal and influential segment of his caucus continues to dictate his decisions. A contentious spending standoff is now likely to result in a shutdown that could disrupt the economy in a dramatic fashion.
The truth is that the Speaker is caught politically between a rock and a hard place. But what else can you expect when you lack any moral principles, and you sell your soul to right-wing political demons, as McCarthy has done?
Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies at East Tennessee State University. He is also an author and public speaker.