MATTHEWS: The Kevin McCarthy House Speaker drama was good for democracy

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy of Calif., points to the newly installed nameplate at his office after he was sworn in as speaker of the 118th Congress in Washington, early Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

As you may have heard, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the former House Minority Leader for the GOP, won the House Speakership over the weekend after 15 rounds of voting that saw a lot of high drama unfold between Democrats and Republicans as well as amongst Republicans themselves. 

Almost as interesting as watching the various factions within the GOP jockey for position was listening to the talking heads on the cable news networks and on social media talk about how supposedly shameful all of this was as it played out on national TV. 

Even President Joe Biden got in on the action, declaring at one point that it was “a little embarrassing” and saying that Republicans should “get their act together.” 

Some even suggested the open power struggle between the so-called “MAGA wing” and “establishment wing” of the Republican party was “un-democratic.” One NBC News reporter actually proclaimed that what was happening was allegedly another form of “election denial” since back in November, a majority of GOPers voted for McCarthy for Speaker during a closed-door meeting. 

But what exactly was “un-democratic” about it? 

As Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said in the middle of the voting, this was actually good for democracy. 

“Unlike the DEMs, who do leadership by acclamation, the GOP is having a deliberative process of what leadership looks like in the House,” Donalds, who at one point was also nominated for the Speaker position, tweeted last week. “We know DC does not work. Having a deliberative discussion (it is messy at times) but in the long term, is in the nation’s best interests.” 

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who helped lead the fight early on to win concessions from McCarthy on grounds that the “status quo” had to go, said during an interview that “…some of the tensions you saw on display when you saw some of the interactions there between [Reps.] Mike Rogers (Ala.) and Matt Gaetz (Fla.), some of that is, we need a little of that.” 

“We need a little of this sort of breaking the glass in order to get us to the table, in order for us to fight for the American people, and to change the way this place is dysfunctional,” Roy continued. 

Indeed, legislative processes and procedural particulars were debated and the rules of the institution were hashed out on the House floor for all of the country to witness, with significant changes agreed to including implementing a 72-hour minimum to read bills instead of rushing them through, single subject bills instead of omnibus bills jampacked with earmarks, more power to conservatives on committees and on the House floor when introducing and debating legislation, a commitment to balance the budget in ten years, and more. 

Even CNN’s Jake Tapper, who is about as liberally biased as you’d expect a CNN anchor to be, defended the 20 GOP “rebels” for holding up McCarthy’s bid to become Speaker. 

“Let me just turn and just say I know to the viewers out there, this probably seems chaotic and insane. But, A: this is democracy,” Tapper said on his program last week. The opposition were “voting the way they’re voting because they actually want substantive changes to the rules.” 

“I think [Wisconsin] Congressman [Mike] Gallagher was right earlier today. He said this is messy, and democracy is messy. It’s a feature, not a bug. That’s true,” Tapper went on to say. 

And now that the voting is over, the hard work for Republicans in the House begins. It will be interesting to see how everything plays out, and how (and if) McCarthy is held accountable in the event those who flipped their votes in favor of him at some point feel betrayed. 

As always, stay tuned. 

North Carolina native Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a media analyst and regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.