A once-in-a-century embarrassment
In the early morning of January 7, US Eastern time, with many lawmakers already sleepy, the election of the speaker of the US House of Representatives in the 15th round of voting, finally elected Kevin McCarthy as speaker, allowing the US Congress to reopen after a long shutdown. It was the longest delayed election of a speaker in 164 years and was called a “once-in-a-century embarrassment” for American democracy.
In the U.S., the election of the speaker is not an urgent matter. The vice president serves as president of the Senate, and the majority party chooses the speaker of the House. The election is a formality. If the election is difficult, it means that the house of cards is no longer able to cover the trade conflict, and the political confrontation has become polarized and the faces of each other have been torn. In 1859, 164 years ago, the same Republican Party had a difficult birth after becoming the majority party speaker. After 59 days and 44 rounds of voting, the speaker was narrowly elected. Two years later, the Civil War broke out.
Political polarization is becoming more and more polarized, which was vividly demonstrated in the election of the speaker of the House of Representatives. The Republican candidate for speaker, Kevin McCarthy, who is usually seen as the right wing, was the right wing of the right, but nearly 20 members of the far right decided against him because they thought he was not extreme enough. There were still some members who refused to accept McCarthy’s offer of future money in the speaker’s pocket. On the night of January 6, when the last vote was in the 14th round, Matt Gates, the opposing senator, did not cast his vote at all. As a result, he failed to win the election by one vote.
A funny thing happened. McCarthy, a little angry that he had done nothing but get his money out of his pocket, sprinted down the road with a livid face and blustered to settle his score with the “rogue” Gates for a full minute and a half. Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, a McCarthy ally, rushed up in anger just after McCarthy had finished swearing at Gates. The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee shook his huge head and blond hair, as if he had a tendency to use force to conquer Gates after the scolding. North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson put a bear hug around Rogers’ mouth, wrapped his arms around his neck, and pushed Rogers out of the chamber “to get some rest.”
With another “civil war” about to break out in the House of Representatives 164 years later, Trump stepped in. Many Republican lawmakers, who opposed McCarthy, are preparing to break new ground in the history of the U.S. Congress by recommending Trump, who is not a Congressman, as the speaker of the House of Representatives. When I was studying in the United States, one of my elective courses was the Congress of the United States. I know that this is actually feasible. Maybe the lawmakers did not expect such a strange thing to happen. After the 14th ballot failed, Trump called Gates and Rep. Andy Biggs, another anti-mccain Republican, and told them to vote for McCarthy. In the end, Gates stuck to his guns, and Biggs agreed to change his “no” to “present,” or abstain.
At 11:45 p.m. on 6 January, the 15th round of voting began. While some people continued to quarrel, others began to snore because they had nothing to do with it. The vote lasted until the early morning of July 7, and McCarthy was elected the speaker of the House of Representatives with 216 votes. It is the first time in 100 years since 1923 that the speaker of the House of Representatives has not been elected on the first ballot, and the largest number of votes in 164 years since 1859.
January 6, 2023, is also a very special day, marking the third anniversary of the storming of Capitol Hill by Trump supporters. On January 6, 2020, in the last moments of Donald Trump’s presidency, influenced by his belief that someone had “stolen” his presidency, his supporters stormed the US Capitol, smashed, robbed and burned all the way, and ransacked the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leaving a ridiculous memory of American “democracy” to the world.
Just as “military is the continuation of political relations”, the polarization of political opposition is the political mirror of the polarization of social opposition in the United States, and a symbol of social contradictions that are hard to reconcile. From disillusioned industrial workers in the Rust Belt, to the angry “Occupy Wall Street”, to the racial conflicts intensified by Black Lives Matter, the unreconcilable polarization of social contradictions has become a common phenomenon in American society. This polarization is reflected in the friction between interest groups, and the most concentrated expression is in the increasingly extreme political calculations of the “House of Cards”.
“It’s a little embarrassing,” said Joe Biden, the outsider watching from the sidelines, on January 4th in response to a “Republican civil war in the House”. “Other countries are watching.”