United States: And the Republican Party was blown up | International

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The spectacle offered this week by the Washington House of Representatives, which removed its president, the speaker Kevin McCarthy, thanks to the alliance between the Democratic Party and eight members of the hardest wing of the Republican Party, not only deserved for this time the much-used adjective of “historic,” he also confirmed once again the fracture of the conservative movement in the United States. Even Donald Trump himself said it in a message on his social network: “Why are Republicans always fighting each other instead of standing up to the radical left Democrats who are destroying our country?”

While the drama unfolded before a public opinion that was both fed up and resigned to its political class, the question was the only contribution to the great topic of the week in the United States; The former president was busy with more pressing matters in New York, where he appeared in a civil fraud trial. And many analysts in Washington would agree on the answer: the division exhibited by their people these days on Capitol Hill largely has its origins in Trump's emergence on the scene and in his four years in the White House, as well as in the months that passed between his defeat at the polls, which he still refuses to admit, and the attack on the Capitol, a time for which he has two pending accounts with justice.

After the initial silence, the former president, who dominates the polls to opt for his party for the 2024 presidential elections, once again appropriated the script: first, running as a speaker temporary, until his people come to an agreement; then, threatening to appear next week in Congress, where the circus will get underway again on Tuesday; and finally, supporting the candidacy of Jim Jordan, congressman from Ohio, over the other serious candidate, Steve Scalise (Louisiana), who was McCarthy's second in command and is undergoing chemotherapy for multiple myeloma.

A victory for Jordan would certify the definitive appropriation of Trumpism by the party of Lincoln and the guarantee of legislative paralysis on Capitol Hill, where Democrats control the Senate. Jordan is one of his most radical congresswomen. Defined by his former colleague Adam Kinzinger as an “election denier, Christian nationalist and unambiguous populist,” he helped found the Freedom Caucus, a group that emerged in 2015 from the conviction that the speaker back then, John Boehner, was leaving too much in the fiscal negotiations with the Obama administration. In that faction are six of the eight fractious Republicans who, led by Florida representative Matt Gaetz, preferred on Tuesday to take away from their party the legislative capacity to accept the concessions agreed upon by McCarthy to achieve an extension that would avoid a partial government shutdown. and which expires on November 17.

“Fratricidal twins”

They all represent Trump's loyal base, that third of the electorate that would support him again no matter what he does. They are voters that the Republicans – a party that Theodore White famously defined in the sixties as a “party of twins, but more fratricidal than fraternal” – need to win the elections. And they are angry: according to political scientist Wendy Brown, “with the displacement of their place in the world in the face of the advance of minority rights and globalization and with institutions.” Among them, the very idea of ​​Washington stands out, a city referred to as the swamp (that swamp that urgently needs to be drained), graphic image of a center of power corrupted, by, among other harmful forces, the complacency of traditional republicanism of people like McCarthy himself or the leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell. Guys who are disparagingly referred to by the acronym RINO, which stands for Republicans In Name Only.

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McCarthy's departure - which Rich Lowry, editor of the magazine National Review, intellectual organ of the moderate right, interprets it as the “signal of an even wilder phase of Republican politics to come” – it represents the end of a generation of “conservative leaders” who, emerging in 2007, started from Reaganism and borrowed the title of a western from the 80s to present themselves as the “Young Guns” in a book signed by McCarthy, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan. There they committed to refounding the party - which "is no longer the Republican Party of your grandparents," they warned - recovering "ideals such as economic freedom, limited government, the sanctity of life." [frente al aborto] and the commitment to family.”

At that time, the Tea Party also emerged, a current even less similar to grandfather's party, which has already claimed the lives of those three young people based on ultra populism. After the first attempt to storm Washington, embodied by vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, failed, Trump brought many of those ideas to the White House, today embedded in the party.

Although according to David Corn, journalist for the leftist Mother Jones, It is worth going back further to find the moment when the Republican Party “went crazy.” in his book American Psychosis, argues that this Faustian pact with “far-right radicals, fanatics, fundamentalists and nutcases” is an invisible line that comes from Senator McCarthy's witch hunt and passes through the anti-communist conspiracy theorists of the John Birch society or the conservative revolution of the nineties. by Newt Gingrich. According to Corn, if there is one thing that unites all of these cases, it is that they “recklessly and relentlessly fueled the paranoia, fear, resentments and grievances of conservative voters.” The paroxysm of this trend would come for the analyst with the attack on the Capitol.

Donald Trump Jim Jordan House of Representatives
Republican Jim Jordan, candidate to succeed Kevin MacCarthy as speaker of the House of Representatives, with reporters on October 4 in Washington. EVELYN HOCKSTEIN (REUTERS)

Last Tuesday, after McCarthy's impeachment and at the end of a day in which Congress was plunged into chaos, Tim Burchett (Tennessee), one of the eight Republicans who voted against him, was sitting on the steps of the main entrance to the Capitol. With a defeated expression, he explained that he had no choice but to do what he had just done, because “his conscience had dictated it to him,” given the ineptitude of his leader. A little further, the Democratic representative for Maryland Jaime Raskin said, after a demonstration of cohesion that was unusual in the recent history of his party: “Today, the only united group in there is us, so I do not rule out that the next speaker be Hakeem Jeffries.” Jeffries is the leader of the Democratic minority in the House and during this week he has not missed the opportunity to define what happened with McCarthy as the “Republican civil war.” For his part, President Joe Biden called for an end to the “poisonous atmosphere” in Washington, perhaps relieved to see that the spotlight on Capitol Hill was drawing attention away from his disastrous management of the border crisis in the week in which misfortune to authorize the construction of a new piece of wall.

It is highly unlikely that Jeffries will be elected: he would need 218 votes and his own only have 212. Nor does the horizon of a block Republican vote seem clear at this point. Both are scheduled on Wednesday to begin the process of choosing a new president. They will vote until they achieve it. The last time was in January: it took 15 rounds - there was hardly any precedent for that either - and the chosen one only lasted nine months in office. Until then, the position of third authority in the country and second in the presidential line of succession will remain vacant.

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