Kevin McCarthy wins the speakership after 15 rounds of voting
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) finally got what he wanted.
Very early this morning, after four days and 15 rounds of voting, McCarthy received the votes needed to hold the coveted gavel.
McCarthy received 215 votes, while House Democrat leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) received 212 votes. Six Republican members voted "present."
This concluded a week of intense drama. However, for McCarthy, all's well that ends well.
As he reached the magic number, McCarthy received a standing ovation and warm embraces from his colleagues.
McCarthy acknowledged his wife and family in the gallery above as Republicans chanted, "USA! USA!"
Kevin McCarthy, delivering first speech as House speaker: "As speaker of the House, my ultimate responsibility is not to my party, my conference, or even our Congress. My responsibility, our responsibility, is to our country." https://t.co/RdYLvfum24 pic.twitter.com/F3tjVA24Sv— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 7, 2023
It has been quite a journey for Speaker McCarthy. He began as a staffer for Congressman Bill Thomas from 1987 to 2002. McCarthy was elected to the California state Assembly in 2002. He became the Republican floor leader in 2003. Then, in 2006, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. Since then, McCarthy has steadily risen through the ranks of the House Republican leadership team. First, he was chief deputy whip, then he rose to whip, and following that he became minority leader.
Today, McCarthy is the highest-ranking Republican in the nation and third in line for the presidency.
The victory was historically significant, albeit for all the wrong reasons. This is for the first time in 163 years that the speaker's race had lasted 15 rounds. The last race to take more than one ballot occurred in 1923, when the House re-elected then-speaker Frederick Gillett in nine rounds of voting. There were roughly 20 members who stood against McCarthy, most of whom were from the House Freedom Caucus. So what did these members want?
Rep.-Elect Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) revealed what they wanted.
For those wondering: pic.twitter.com/5rR45qFT8q— Anna Paulina Luna (@realannapaulina) January 6, 2023
But the ice was beginning to thaw. Perhaps McCarthy had conceded to some of the demands. In the fourteenth round, more than half of the holdouts changed their vote to McCarthy.
Only six members remain steadfast in their opposition of McCarthy. This includes Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Bob Good (R-Va.), and Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), and Rep.-Elect Eli Crane (R-Ariz.). All of them voted "present" in the 15th round.
There were copious occurrences all through the various rounds. A baby was born. Rep.-Elect Wesley Hunt (R-Texas), flew to and from Texas on Friday after his wife had delivered a baby.
But it wasn't always good news.
The dissenters in the Freedom Caucus were attacked by colleagues. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) reacted to the Freedom Caucus voting against McCarthy by using Democrat talking points. He called them dimwitted and inarticulate, before branding them as terrorists.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw on the 20 Republicans who oppose McCarthy:— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 4, 2023
"We cannot let the terrorists win." pic.twitter.com/toZlSdikpk
Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, claimed that members of the Freedom Caucus, such as Gaetz, were using their power of the vote to negotiate plum panel assignments and that it wasn't for the cause.
I will always tell you the truth!— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) January 3, 2023
Watch my full segment on Bannon’s War Room: https://t.co/hEsjQ4M2Qi pic.twitter.com/qm7RMGU9pW
Even the amiable Sean Hannity appeared to lose patience with the Freedom Caucus.
The reactions weren't always strictly verbal.
After the 14th round, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) appeared to stridently reprimand Gaetz. At one point, it appeared Rogers was lunging toward Gaetz and had to be physically restrained by others.
Wild scene as Rep. Mike Rogers has to be physically restrained by another member while going after Gaetz as McCarthy tries to secure final votes pic.twitter.com/c0u2lZxgYr— Cabot Phillips (@cabot_phillips) January 7, 2023
Photo stills of the incident resembled the Baroque works of Caravaggio.
Great photo of the moment Mike Rogers lunged at Matt Gaetz by @andyharnik, feat. Richard Hudson holding Rogers back pic.twitter.com/ewoMxoREfQ— Morgan Rimmer (@morgan_rimmer) January 7, 2023
One of the dissenters alleged that she was politically muscled.
Rep. Lauren Boebert claimed that McCarthy endorsed a threat to remove all committee assignments for Republicans voting against him for speaker.
Lauren Boebert said Kevin McCarthy, during their morning conference, endorsed this threat to any Republican voting against him for Speaker:— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) January 3, 2023
“If you vote against Kevin McCarthy today on the floor you will not have committee assignments.” pic.twitter.com/hFfME2HsG7
But there were rare displays of cordiality as well.
Democrat Squadron leader Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) conversed with GOP Reps. Gaetz of Florida and Paul Gosar of Arizona on separate occasions.
What happened here? Can anyone read lips? pic.twitter.com/r7PR3Srcyg— MeidasTouch (@MeidasTouch) January 3, 2023
AOC montage with Gosar and Gaetz. pic.twitter.com/laxwktKpwF— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) January 3, 2023
Among those who burst the bubble of tension with humor was the inimitable President Trump:
JUST IN: Trump just shared this on Truth Social.— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) January 5, 2023
Maybe he’s endorsing himself for Speaker? 😂 pic.twitter.com/Hxdn4XfjiG
Others joined the fun:
Rounds of votes for the #SpeakerofTheHouse— SiR RaJ△И (@Sir_R_U_L) January 6, 2023
Left: Day One
Right: When a speaker finally gets elected pic.twitter.com/YhaTlVeyJ7
This baby was born on the first round of votes. He’s now 4 months old 👶🏻 pic.twitter.com/RVJFkhg7Sq— Rep. Tony Cárdenas (@RepCardenas) January 3, 2023
The eternally recurring #SpeakerVote in the US House of Representatives is not only highlighting the shambolic state of affairs within the #Republican party, but also proving manna from heaven for meme lovers. #F24 #KevinMcCarthy pic.twitter.com/Lk49cL4Rxu— Douglas Herbert (@dougf24) January 6, 2023
The only Kevin that can defend a house pic.twitter.com/slcV0ZNkxp— Congressman Chuy García (@RepChuyGarcia) January 4, 2023
So what do we make of this drama?
The many critics of the GOP from both parties contrasted this chaos with the "order" among Democrats. All 212 Democrats backed election-denier Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York for the speakership.
The critics claimed that the GOP is fractured and obviously blamed President Trump for sowing discord in the D.C. echo chamber. Do they have a point?
The only group that has a total consensus is a flock of sheep. Human beings, even identical twins, have a diversity of opinions on any given issue. This is real diversity.
The diversity on the Democrat side, which they love to boast about, is superficial. It is based on race, sexuality, and ethnicity, which are related to genes, but when it comes to opinions on key issues, they have a total consensus.
There are strict rules in this echo chamber, and even the slightest hint of dissent is severely punished. Consequently, the rest of the sheep stay in line. Irrespective of what they really think, they follow the flock. They vote according to orders, and when they speak, it is from a pre-approved script. This is a disservice to their constituents.
Citizens in a district in Florida who vote for a Democrat representative and citizens from a district in Washington state who vote for a Democrat representative do so with different expectations. No two districts are alike; in fact, no two districts in the same state are alike.
But if you look at the voting records, Democrat representatives from Washington to Florida usually have an identical voting record, irrespective of bills.
Why is dissent so difficult? Because the penalty for dissent is a cut in campaign funds or perhaps the funding of a primary challenger.
Despite being called Democrats, the party operates like a totalitarian state, and this is what they intend to implement across America.
Hence, it is a cause for celebration that intra-party democracy thrives in the GOP.
Had Rep. Jeffries emerged victorious due to the divide in the GOP, the blame would have been placed on the dissenters. Fortunately, that didn't happen.
Had McCarthy struck deals with Democrats and emerged as the winner after some compromise, it would have been disgraceful. But that didn't happen, either.
Instead, the dissenters made their presence felt with a slate of demands that could be met and probably got McCarthy to concede on items pertaining to the America First agenda. This is an achievement and the kind of democratic republic that the Founding Fathers had envisioned.
If the Freedom Caucus really wanted one of their own to be speaker, they should have begun the groundwork from the beginning of 2022. They could have named someone such as Jim Jordan as a candidate and campaigned for him. Hopefully, they will be prepared for this in 2024, particularly if McCarthy begins mcconnelling as speaker of the House.
It will be interesting to see how many of these demands made by the Freedom Caucus are actually satisfied. If the demands are not met and the Freedom Caucus stays mum, they too must be held accountable.
The electoral victory for McCarthy is merely the beginning. The Freedom Caucus must continue to hold McCarthy accountable and be as verbal as before. Hopefully, McCarthy won't retaliate against the group for their dissent.
Let's end on an optimistic note and hope this McCarthy era produces results that make voters happy.
Image: Screen shot from Fox News video via YouTube.