Skip to content


September 26, 2015


Boehner’s resignation from both the Speakership and from the House itself brings into sharp relief the deeper fissures within the Republican Party, the successor party to the Whigs formed in 1854, a then energetic and forward-looking new political party which elected a former Whig to the White House (Abraham Lincoln) only six years later. As compared with the old guard and largely pro-slavery Democratic Party of that day, the new Republican Party was the relatively liberal and progressive party (as pointed out by Doris Kearns in her book, Team of Rivals, and by others).

Had I been on the scene in that day, I would have been a Republican. I was not on the scene, am not a Republican, and given the current revolution within the Republican Party, I can’t imagine that even today’s ordinary Republicans know what they are absent a common theme for governing among their warring representatives. Is it going to take a Whig experience for a new party to arise from the ashes of today’s Republican Party as now plainly torn asunder? Can the party survive as a coherent instrument to flesh out its conservative agenda (which is apparently not sufficiently conservative for the slash-and-burn revolutionaries within its ranks)?

What, if anything, does Boehner’s resignation tell us about such an answer? It’s anybody’s guess at this stage, but I think he was unable to control his caucus on the (real or manufactured) issues of the day and finally threw in the towel. After all, revolutionaries such as libertarians and nihilists don’t believe in majority or any other kind of rule; that’s why they are revolutionaries. They will not be bound by their own caucus majority vote and would rather see their party (if they are indeed really Republicans) go down in flames than surrender their right wing stands on the issues (if even they are “issues”).

Evidence? Tea partiers, libertarians and nihilists in the House and such as the Cruzes and Pauls in the Senate, all “my way or the highway” “take no prisoners” “compromise is a four-letter word” types, are acting out fantasies that will not sell to the broad middle of America. Time will tell and I have been wrong before, but I think that the spectacle we are seeing played out by Republicans (if they are even Republicans) will hand over the presidency and the Senate to Democrats in 2016 and, if it continues to intensify and even though gerrymandered beyond belief, just possibly, the House. America is tired of a do-nothing Congress run (or disrupted from running) by the juvenile wing of the Republican Party, and if the Republican Party is powerless to corral such libertarian-nihilists-Ayn Rand flamethrowers (see Boehner’s resignation), then the voters will, I hope, take things in hand and send these people back to their caves. Government is serious business and shutting down the government, in my opinion, borders on sedition. Legislative immunity has its limits.

Somewhere in the early 20th century just after the progressive era of Teddy Roosevelt (and as solidified later by Nixon’s “southern strategy”), the parties exchanged positions. The Democrats became the progressives and the Republicans retreated to old guard solutions to contemporary problems. Republicans are back into a situation (albeit based on a different set of issues) where the Whigs were in 1854 (slavery, tariffs etc.).

The Whig Party provided the ashes for the formation of a relatively progressive political party; it now appears that today’s Republican Party may provide the ashes for a new party if my reading of their present difficulties in managing their caucus is accurate. How did they ever get to such an intra-party impasse? There are more answers than I have outlined here, of course, and we will learn much about where the Republican Party is going by their selection of a new Speaker. Will he or she be someone who can bring reasonable unity to its caucus or is the party headed for the ash-heap as was its predecessor in 1854 to emerge as a new and energetic political party dedicated to governing and not just ruling?

We shall see, but I think that Boehner’s self-removal from the House may well be a significant event heralding a coming public rupture in American politics. I can foresee the day if and when the Republican Party remains unconstructed that massive numbers of Republicans will become Democrats since such defectors will get along better with Democrats than with the revolutionaries within their former party.

While such people will disagree with Democrats on many issues, Democrats will rationally discuss and compromise on solutions to such issues, as well they should, while such new Democrats’ former revolutionaries leave no room for negotiation and compromise. The current situation unless remedied means that such Republicans who are not revolutionaries are effectively in a political no-man’s land; they are not represented by either party. They therefore will have a choice to make (as millions of Republicans did when FDR carried 46 of the then 48 states during the Great Depression).

There may be as many other interpretations of the Speaker’s resignation from Congress as there are those interpreting, ranging from his health (he’s a smoker) to a private admonition by the Pope to quit beating up on poor people (he’s a Catholic), but I’ll stand by my interpretation pending receipt of further evidence.

While waiting, I pose this question to readers:  Why should we elect candidates to govern from a party in chaos that cannot govern itself?  Why elect Whigs?  GERALD   E

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: