Kevin McCarthy and Jason Chaffetz
Both the right and the left have had their McCarthys, US Senators from neighboring Wisconsin (Joe) and Minnesota (Eugene). We knew where each stood, partly because the country was polarized back in those days.
Had they run against each other for president, then Eugene would have to be anointed the ideological winner. Very different, Joe was a Marine during WWII. Wikipedia reports that “He flew twelve combat missions as a gunner-observer, earning the nickname of ‘Tail-Gunner Joe’ in the course of one of these missions.” After the war, he became America’s top cold warrior, picking up the anti-Bolshevik baton from the Germans and Japanese.
But while the “Greatest Generation” caused the US to become the most powerful superpower, its ideological fighting spirit was unsustainable. The Beat Generation of the 1950s, then the Hippies of the 1960s, emerged triumphant. They run things today. Out with Joe, in with Eugene. Despite Reagan and lesser Republicans, the liberals proved to have the long-range power to win. Capturing the media, education, and government was brilliant. Average people were told what to think. “Give us plenty of entertainment and welfare, and you can do as you please,” most Americans now seem to say.
Eugene’s triumph is especially apparent in the dual elections of Barack Obama, who has been even more successful, perhaps, than Reagan in projecting Hollywood-like good cheer and polish. Americans got the activist they wanted. No one told Obama, however, that he had lost both houses of Congress. He just moves ahead with one presidential initiative after another. Sheer political energy counts for a lot, especially if you’ve made key appointments to the Supreme Court.
At this point, Congressman Kevin McCarthy has the time in grade or seniority to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House. But wait a minute, he is from California and suffers from the same problem that Mitt Romney had coming from Massachusetts, easily the most liberal states in America. To stay alive politically in either state, you have to be less a conservative, and more an appeaser and compromiser. Getting into office is what really counts, doesn’t it? I have GOP relatives in California who think of themselves as being “conservative,” a term which can only be taken in the radical context of Jerry Brown’s People’s Republic of California–not in Utah and South Dakota.
In contrast, Speaker challenger Jason Chaffetz has an unknown quality that tilts toward becoming a much-needed conservative counterpoint in US politics. Like Obama, he’s worked his “community organizer” way up through campaigns and internships. Like Donald Trump, he’s showing a willingness to take risks in behalf of what he thinks is right. Didn’t Trump just say that “Oregon victims might have survived had they been armed”? This goes for college rape victims, too, doesn’t it?
Both Obama and Reagan have been examples of strong leaders, exerting their influence even with cards stacked against them. While the presidential contest is still far away, the Speaker election is coming right up. The national GOP has shown that it does little good to control both houses of congress so long as men like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell simply manage votes and parliamentary rules. Meanwhile the headlines gloatingly announce that “Joe Biden Backs Transgender Military Service As U.S. Weighs Policy.” As people sleep, America is at a crossroads, isn’t it?