Republicans Are Treating Other Republicans Like They Do Democrats: The Not-Speaker Scalise Edition

If you hadn’t heard, yesterday, by a vote of 113-91, a majority of the Republican caucus voted to nominate Republican congressman Steve “David Duke without the baggage (maybe)” Scalise as House Speaker. Of course, this meant Scalise didn’t have enough votes to become Speaker because House Republicans are fucking dumbasses who don’t understand how caucuses work.

It’s hard to explain to political novices just how bizarre this is: typically, the majority of the majority caucus decides who the next speaker is and then individual members (sometimes) negotiate with the nominated candidate over issues by threatening to withhold their floor vote (i.e., ‘if you don’t give me issue X or chairmanship Y, I won’t vote for you when the time comes’). Apparently, House Republicans think caucuses are anarchist communes, requiring a consensus, but that’s not how they work*–and, given the mess in the House, it should be obvious why they don’t work that way.

But this is actually what Republicans do to Democrats all the time. If Republicans win the vote, then they follow the rules, but when Republicans lose, they take their ball and go home–fuck the rules! While much of the legacy media has become conditioned to ignoring when Republicans do that to Democrats, Republicans are now doing this to themselves. Essentially, there is an anti-caucus: a minority of Republicans have decided that only they have the right to govern, even when the governance in question only involves other Republicans.

The authoritarian impulse always metastasizes. Anyway, every candidate will be horrible, so I’m rooting for injuries.

*Caucuses can have different rules, such as two-thirds majority, or certain levels of support from subgroups (e.g., bipartisan caucuses often require at least some members of both parties to support a position). But the key point is there are votes, and then the members (most of them anyway) follow the caucus.

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