Chad Blair: The Republicans Are Melting Down - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Author

Chad Blair

Chad Blair is the politics and opinion editor for Civil Beat. You can reach him by email at cblair@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @chadblairCB.

One of the jokes making its way around social media this week was that Kevin McCarthy should place a call to Georgia’s secretary of state in hopes of scrounging up a few votes.

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McCarthy, of course, received fewer votes than Hakeem Jeffries in the first ballot for U.S. House speaker on Tuesday, even though Republicans (barely) regained the majority from Democrats in the November midterms.

It’s the first time in 100 years that a speaker has not been chosen on opening day. The impasse continued Wednesday with the GOP still deadlocked after a sixth round of balloting.

The Georgia joke neatly encapsulates the Grand Old Party’s woes by not only poking fun at a national GOP in precipitous decline but also reminding Americans of the shame of the former president who famously — and probably illegally — tried to turn things around in the Peach State.

Donald Trump now awaits his fate from the outcome of several investigations into not only his role in the 2020 election — he thinks it was stolen from him; it was not — but also the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, the storage of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and other legal travails. He supports McCarthy, and yet the 20 or so hard-line holdouts include some of the Trump-iest members in all of Congress.

About the only good news for Republicans this week was that, because there was no speaker elected as of Wednesday, a new House could not officially be sworn in.

It includes a certain congressman-elect from New York, the subject of even more jokes than McCarthy. (“BREAKING: George Santos says he has been named Speaker of the House, Sultan of Brunei, NBA Rookie of the Year.”) It was reported that Santos himself was among House freshmen whose offices incorrectly said they were sworn in.

Back at home, the Hawaii Republican Party has its own concerns. While it managed to increase its membership in the state House and Senate, it is also considering a complaint to kick former Rep. Cynthia Thielen out for daring to support a Democrat running for her old seat.

Last month, an unsuccessful state Senate candidate named Karl Dicks filed a civil complaint against his party, several of its past and present leaders and several elected GOP officials. Dicks wants the party to be disqualified from being a party because, the complaint argues, it has failed to comply with party bylaws and state statutes “in a lawful and timely manner.”

“I’m just trying to get them to go by their own rules,” Dicks told me Tuesday. “They refuse to follow the rules.”

Party Chair Lynn Finnegan did not respond to my request for comment Tuesday, but I certainly understand why she might finally be so fed up with some of her colleagues that she might soon step down from her post, as several members have told me privately. There is a lot of internal disagreement over the party’s positions and leadership that is once again spilling out into the public.

Serious Disagreements

What’s happening locally is nothing compared to the what’s happening on the national scene. The word “disarray” has been used widely in social and mainstream media, but other synonyms seem apt: chaos, anarchy, shambles, unruliness, cluster-(rhymes with truck), holy and unholy mess.

Not all Republican leaders are in freefall. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — now the longest-serving Senate leader — joined President Joe Biden in Kentucky on Wednesday to tout infrastructure and economic investments. Mike DeWine, Ohio’s Republican governor, was in attendance for the kind of bipartisan photo op that used to be commonplace.

There are still Republicans in the country that want to do good for their state and country, including Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, Gov. John Sununu of New Hampshire and former Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas.

But they are overshadowed by the likes of Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, who sent busloads of migrants to the residence of Vice President Kamala Harris on a freezing Christmas Eve. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida flew migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

social media post from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Jan. 3, 2023

The crisis at the southern border is real and both parties have struggled to find a solution. But what Abbott and DeSantis, both possible presidential contenders in 2024, did was cruel and borders on the criminal.

There are other pressing concerns including the war in Ukraine, continuing inflation, growing gun violence and growing hate crimes. There are serious disagreements on how to approach it all.

But GOP representatives like Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert (who oppose McCarthy for speaker) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (who supports him and is in a very public feud with her two colleagues) make Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib seem quite sane and reasonable, in spite of Trump name-calling them “The Squad.” Gaetz, for example, has publicly questioned whether McCarthy should have been allowed to already move into Nancy Pelosi’s former office at the Capitol.

McCarthy may yet become speaker, but he will never match Pelosi’s historic and accomplished record and almost certainly won’t last long in the top job if he does manage to get there. It is instructive to recall that previous GOP speakers Newt Gingrich, John Boehner and Paul Ryan all quit in frustration while Denny Hastert was later convicted of finance and sex crimes.

At its core, the royal cluster-(rhymes with duck) in the U.S. House is about political ideology regarding government and rights and freedom. It’s a necessary debate. But at some point our leaders have to put aside their differences — and their enormous egos — and lead.

Trump social media post on House speaker chaos

Even Sean Hannity on Fox last week admitted that Republicans have to accept early voting in order to get elected, even though he called it “ballot harvesting.” But then, he and others at Fox are currently the subject of a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems.

And so the madness continues. The GOP-controlled Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. A whacko tried to whack Paul Pelosi. Kari Lake refuses to concede in Arizona. The Republican National Committee is considering axing chair Ronna McDaniel. All while Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and their ilk are arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced for fomenting revolution.

The words “civil war” are being used by many who see historical parallels with what is happening in this country today. It includes the desire on the part of more than a few who believe such a war would be righteous and just.

Greene herself — aka MJG — spoke at a New York Young Republicans Club meeting last month in which she said that, had she and Steve Bannon organized the Jan. 6 attack, it would have been armed and successful.

“The audience — which included Bannon, Donald Trump Jr., and prominent figures on the far right — met Greene’s incendiary remarks with cheers and whoops of affirmation,” The Guardian reported.

Greene later clarified that she was being sarcastic.

Of note: Metal detectors were removed from outside the House chamber with the start of the new Republican-controlled House on Tuesday. And Friday marks the second anniversary of Jan. 6.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Boebert in a Roll Call story. “I think they need to be removed from the Capitol, filled with Tannerite and blown up.”


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About the Author

Chad Blair

Chad Blair is the politics and opinion editor for Civil Beat. You can reach him by email at cblair@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @chadblairCB.


Latest Comments (0)

I've read the suit against the Republican Party of Hawaii. It's laughable! It's a repeat of same suit they brought against the Office of Elections, only with different defendants, which by the way was dismissed by the state supreme. court.

Zarf688722 · 2 weeks ago

Lucky we live in Hawai`i where arch-conservative Republicans, like those who held up the opening of the House session, are political road kill.

Eastside_Kupuna · 2 weeks ago

One of the most irritating things that the GOP and its henchmen have done is to state that their off the wall ideas, said on stage, are walked back and defined later as either being a joke or being sarcastic. The GOP needs to know now that words have meaning, they have power and are interpreted in 1,000 different ways. Because they allow for just glib use of phrasing and language by the likes of Greene and Trump, we as Americans have to be on guard to wonder if they are being sarcastic or being serious. After January 6, we cannot think anything less of what they say than being deadly serious.

Kana_Hawaii · 2 weeks ago

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