That’s not to say they won’t do real damage: their primary agendas of pushing White Christian supremacy and cutting taxes and protective regulations is relatively easy to enact. But the whole McCarthy fracas does demonstrate how dependent Republicans are on Democrats to accomplish the basic functions of government.
In terms of McCarthy winning the speakership, as best as anyone can tell, McCarthy is counting on Democrats deciding not to vote (or vote present). Unfortunately for him, Democrats seem to be having a grand time watching him flounder, to the extent where they’re literally showing up with buckets of popcorn. If nothing else, every day Republicans aren’t in control is another day they can’t hurt America.
But his strategy is simply the Republican governance strategy writ small. Democrats pass bills, both aggressive and expansive bills (e.g., the IRA) along with the ‘keeping the lights on’ bills, often to their short-term political detriment, thanks to Republican propaganda. Meanwhile, Republicans return to their districts and hold ribbon-cutting ceremonies touting projects funded by the very same bills they opposed (there’s an entire subgenre of reporting dedicated to this phenomenon). To put it vulgarly (and destroying any feminist cred I might have built up over the years), Republicans get the mistress and the wife: they get political points for opposing Democratic legislation, while simultaneously getting credit for its benefits.
Well, now that Republicans likely will be running the show–though running is being far too kind if the speakership jostling is any indication–they’re going to actually have to produce bills that do the day-to-day functioning of government, including the basic, unsexy stuff that isn’t partisan meat for the Fox News Beast. I’m not sure they can pull this off simply from a standpoint of competence–they have too many jokers who aren’t interested in governing, even governing horribly (which they will do to some extent). I’m guessing we’re going to see a lot of continuing resolutions for most policy areas.
Anyway, the next two years are going to be a caterwauling shit show, so might as well make some popcorn.