In the end it took 15 rounds of voting to elect Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the early hours of Saturday morning. This was preceded by four days of sometimes intense negotiations.
I do not understand exactly what the Republican group of extreme conservatives that was blocking McCarthy’s election was demanding. But I’m sure it will become clear exactly what they imposed on him as time goes on and the promises he made to them affect his leadership and the operation of the House, i.e., the affairs of state.
The image of America, as news of what was happening circulated around the whole world, was far from positive.
They were images of deep political polarization, division, emotions, which one finds in underdeveloped countries – where minorities wish to impose their views on the majority.
They were images that froze the country. That brought back to the fore the lack of unity not only between supporters of the two parties, but also within the Republican Party.
They showed the country still has a long way to go before it can return to full normality.
And this in a world in turmoil – in war, in economic crisis.
Finally, there is a lesson to be learned from all this sad history.
McCarthy made many concessions – I do not want to say he sold his soul – to Trump in order to gain his support to be Speaker of the House.
For example, on January 11, 2021, five days after the events on Capitol Hill, he had stated: “But let me be very clear to you and I have been very clear to the President. He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No if, ands or buts.”
And yet, a few days later he visited Trump in Florida and was photographed with him.
That doesn’t seem to have helped him. Of course, the Democrats are not without blame either. They could have given him the votes he needed and he wouldn’t have needed the votes of the extremists.
But they took the opportunity to score political points. And they enjoyed it!