The tumultuous reign of John Boehner is coming to an end. Few would deny that fighting conservatives in the House played a major role in his departure even if, as he claims, he felt comfortable with his chances of retaining the seat had he chose to stay. His battles with conservatives were often more spectacular than his battles with Democrats.
He wanted so desperately to be a peacemaking, unifying statesman that he leaned too far to the middle on almost every issue. He couldn’t get the Democrats to budge on most issues and he couldn’t inspire the right to help him fight the wars. It wasn’t his policy choices or leadership skills that doomed his reign. It was his unwillingness to embrace true conservatism over politics-as-usual that made him ineffective.
His departure is greatly welcomed by those of us who hold to conservative values. However, a bigger problem looms with his most likely successor Kevin McCarthy from California. Another moderate, McCarthy has similar credentials and perspectives that Boehner has. The difference is that he’s even less willing to fight.
To understand this, we have to look past his handful of conservative perspectives. He’s against the Export-Import Bank and very vocal against Planned Parenthood, for example, which are the talking points that he’ll cling to when wooing Tea Party conservatives to support his bid. However, if we look deeper at his voting record, we’ll see that something very alarming happened. Initially, he was pretty darn conservative. Then, when political standing in the House became an important issue to him, he shifted dramatically.
He was voted to be Whip but ended up moving up to Majority Leader with the primary defeat of Eric Cantor. Since then, he has voted more and more liberally, falling in line with the goals of Boehner and ignoring the conservative values that have helped him to run unopposed in primaries in his district for years.
Consistency is an important trait. It means that you’re driven by personal values and the values of your constituents rather than the political games that are rampant in Congress. Shifting so quickly for the sake of ambition is something that we’ve seen before in Congressmen like Boehner and Cantor. It’s a trait that the party and more importantly the country cannot afford.
So, who should the Republicans pick if not McCarthy? We like Mark Levin’s choice in Jim Jordan, but there are two problems there. First, he’s very effective leading the conservative right in Congress. Second, it would be challenging for him to get the support necessary without having to make promises that we wouldn’t want him to keep.
Levin: Don't back McCarthy as Speaker http://t.co/HMbc2FWvNm
— Pat Peters, Ph.D. (@PatVPeters) September 26, 2015
Someone we’re watching closely is Jeb Hensarling from Texas. He’s conservative and would be more likely to get the votes necessary, but he probably won’t pursue. Our fall back alternative to McCarthy would be Daniel Webster from Florida. He’s as far left as one can get without losing his Tea Party membership card, but he’s still to the right of McCarthy and has demonstrated a nice combination of guts and gravitas that would offer a stark contrast to years of failed sessions of Congress.
Under normal circumstances, we push to the right. This time around, we’ll settle for as right as we can get. McCarthy is not the guy to make things different than they were under Boehner. He’s the most likely to keep things going in the exact same direction.