The Republican nightmare in Congress is a great opportunity for moderates to build a bipartisan agenda. The victory will be very expensive for the new president of the House of Representatives, the California Republican Kevin McCarthy.
He not only required 15 desperate and dramatic rounds of voting to win the necessary votes to assume the House leadership, but he made extraordinary concessions to a vocal minority of ultra-conservatives within the Freedom Caucus, the caucus of radicals in Congress.
What did McCarthy give up? From now on, any single member of those ultra-conservatives can start the procedure to remove him! That is to say, the speaker of the House of Representatives is going to operate with a gun to his head in the hands of the ultras of the Freedom Caucus. He’s going to become a hostage to their demands, crazy as they are.
But that was not all. Members of the Freedom Caucus will hold positions on key congressional committees, will be able to condition raising the national debt ceiling, and will have greater weight in proposing further cuts to domestic spending.
How can this affect our community? First of all, we know that even before the vote and in order to please the most radical section of the Republican party, McCarthy visited the border and announced that the number one priority would be to seek the passage of a new border control law.
It is not necessary to have a crystal ball to anticipate that the wishes of the Republicans include resuming the construction of the wall, reinstating the stay in Mexico program and extending Title 42 to continue expelling millions of immigrants, the deployment of the military on the border with Mexico and much more.
Some of these demands are contained in a letter that the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, delivered by hand to President Joe Biden, when he made his first visit to the border a few days ago, before beginning his visit to Mexico.
But it is also possible to foresee that the Republicans will seek to use the debt ceiling debate to cut corners on social programs that benefit millions of low-income people, especially minorities of color, Latinos and African-Americans.
Fortunately, his plans will run up against the veto power of President Biden. And given the slim majority Republicans have in the House, they won’t be able to get past him.
However, there is another possible scenario: that President Biden takes advantage of this circumstance to forge an alliance between Democrats and moderate Republicans, in the same way that Bill Clinton did in 1993 and 1996, when he managed to approve in a bipartisan manner both the North American Free Trade Agreement and the reform of public welfare laws.
The legendary Winston Churchill is credited with the phrase, “never waste a good crisis.”
So the Republican nightmare is a great opportunity for moderates to build a far-reaching bipartisan agenda that restores voter confidence that the art of politics, not violence or polarization, is still the best method to find solutions to the great problems of the country.