Drop your corkscrews, deflate those balloons, and bring that cake back to the store, folks. It probably seems like a celebration is in order with the departure of House
Sobber Speaker John Boehner, but when the euphoria fades and you start thinking a few moves ahead, his resignation is actually a bad thing.
John Boehner has been one of the most contentious figures in contemporary politics for a number of years now, particularly since he assumed the role of House Speaker back in 2011. Democrats can’t stand him because he’s a right-wing Reaganite, and Republicans hate him because to them, he’s moderate RINO scum. Many speculate that the latter group are the ones pushing him out, with figures like Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum applauding his resignation.
Many progressives are probably thinking that his resignation is a good thing, that we should let loose the erectile jokes and lay it on thick with references to his spray tan and perpetual crying. But while you’ll never find me advocating against Boehner jokes, you will see me warning that Boehner’s exit won’t end well for this country. In fact, you’ll see me issuing that warning right now.
We all need to ask ourselves one very serious question: who is going to replace John Boehner? Who will assume the Speakership after he’s gone, holding it at least until the 2016 elections, and possibly longer? What Republican figure is going to emerge and fill this critical role within the government and the GOP?
Gamblers would sensibly favor House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, while Paul Ryan would need to be a close second. But winning this seat means a potential Speaker needs to recognize that Boehner’s departure from the House is, in the eyes of Tea Partiers, a changing of the guard. Whoever takes the seat next needs to play by the rules of Sarah Palin, not by the rules of Ronald Reagan, however much those Tea Party figures might praise the latter.
How, you’re probably asking, does this involve Sarah Palin? After all, Palin has never held office in the House or the Senate, and she’ll certainly never occupy the White House… why on Earth am I bringing that bumpkin into the mix? The answer is simple, if you think back to the 2008 campaign trail anyway. Sarah Palin can easily, though indirectly, be credited with birthing the Tea Party, and certainly deserves heaps of credit for helping radicalize the party. Without Sarah Palin entering the mix, the last seven years would look vastly different.
John McCain and Sarah Palin played good-cop, bad-cop in 2008. McCain was reasonable and thoughtful, politely correcting a woman who labeled Obama a “Muslim” and attempting to maintain some degree of civility during the race. Palin, by stark contrast, was brash, loud, ignorant, and obnoxious. And that tone Palin adopted in 2008? It’s alive and well today, in 2015, living vicariously through radical right-wing figures like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and countless others.
Palin’s involvement in the 2008 campaign had a profoundly adverse affect on American politics as a whole. Between claiming then-Senator Barack Obama “pals around with terrorists” and rallying her supporters behind her after Katie Couric had the audacity of asking a “gotcha question” in the form of “what do you read,” Sarah Palin established the early seedlings of the Tea Party: loud, ignorant, refuting facts as “lamestream media” bias, questioning Obama’s place of birth… Sarah Palin gave the Tea Party a womb from which they could emerge into this political ethos, crying, screaming, and covered in goop.
Sarah Palin didn’t just set the tone for how conservatives behave today… she wrote the sheet music. And today, with John Boehner leaving the House Speaker seat, we can expect a figure backed by the Tea Party to fill the role. And if you’re hoping that person will somehow be calmer and more rational than Boehner, then you quite frankly haven’t been paying attention to politics in the past decade.
John Boehner is very much a Reagan-era Republican. He’s a firm, unbending conservative, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t willing to try and work with Democrats to move the ball forward. But since assuming the seat, Boehner has constantly been tugged and yanked toward the right-wing, like a woman being dragged screaming into a blackened void by a horror movie monster. Boehner has seemingly lost the will to keep fighting that pulling, despite the fingernail grooves dug into the House floor.
So now, Boehner will be replaced by some figure whose more willing to align themselves with the Tea Party than with the GOP establishment. Someone who praises Ronald Reagan, but wouldn’t support him if their lives depended on it today.
With John Boehner’s departure from Washington, the party of Reagan is officially dead. The last pseudo-moderate holding any authoritative role in the GOP will soon be heading back to his home state. And with this, we’re soon going to see a new era in Republican politics. The rise of the party of Ted Cruz, of Michele Bachmann, of Glenn Beck… the rise of the party of Sarah Palin. So brace yourselves, my fellow progressives. You might think the last seven years have been rough, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.