Reality Check From House Conservatives On John Boehner Re-Election

John Boehner 2015

It was the vote that conservative activists salivated over.  This would be it.  This might well be the time that John Boehner of Ohio would be challenged for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives by a REAL conservative and FINALLY the establishment would lose and lose big.  He’d be embarrassed and would then be forced to turn to the right in all things REAL conservatives care about.  On top of it, this was going to separate the RINOs from the REAL conservatives, and the world would know the difference.

Minor problem according to the big named conservative representatives who did not participate in the attempted coup – the group that gave it a shot this time was incredibly disorganized about it, and the “sell-outs” aren’t afraid to say so.  The consensus among a number of statements from and interviews with Republicans who have very high Heritage Foundation ratings and voted for Speaker Boehner is that the challengers waited until the last minute rather than one of them coming forward in November when the conference voted on the matter which would have been the appropriate time, and that the people offered as alternatives to John Boehner as speaker were plain and simply not qualified for the position.  They also did not even attempt to sway anyone in the freshman class to vote for anyone other than Boehner.

In addition, those who were part of the revolt the last time recognized the futility and the fact that once the attempted ouster was over, conservatives were further marginalized and they did not want to see that happen again.

Those are damning sentiments.  And given the list of representatives with 90% ratings or higher from the Heritage Foundation who did not join in, there was never a solid conservative consensus that this was a hot idea.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina released a detailed statement with his reasoning for not joining the “mutiny” as he referred to the unseating attempt.  After stating why it was a bad idea and that Louie Gohmert just isn’t qualified for the job despite his passion, he had this to say:

The truth is, there was no conservative who could beat John Boehner.  Period.  People can ignore that, or they can wish it away, but that is reality.

Some people tried to argue that voting against Boehner would give conservatives leverage, or somehow force him to lead in a more conservative fashion, even if the coup attempt failed.  All I can say to that is that the exact opposite happened two years ago: conservatives were marginalized, and Boehner was even freer to work with moderates and Democrats.  My guess is that the exact same thing will happen again now.  And I fail to see how that helps anything that conservatives know needs to be done in Washington.

I understand people’s frustration and anger over what is happening in Washington.  And I also acknowledge that John Boehner may be partly to blame.  But this was a fool’s errand.  I am all for fighting, but I am more interested in fighting and winning than I am fighting an unwinnable battle.

And that is the danger in tilting at windmills.  The battles that conservatives need to get on their muscle about winning at this point need to be the ones that can be won.  This one couldn’t be, and many people recognized it.  There’s a certain wisdom that comes with experience and if a representative with a 91% rating from the Heritage Foundation saw it as futile after a previous attempt, maybe there is something to that.

None of this is what conservatives who were cheer-leading representatives who needed to shore up their conservative creds (no, really, this is something that has surfaced multiple times) want to hear let alone admit.  When the likes of Rep. Tom McClintock tells National Review Online that the floor fight was the bigger risk, and was not a hot idea, it might be worth stepping back and looking at the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is that Republican leadership has been at this game for a long time.  In order to get things done in Washington, you have to work with other people who are not as ideologically pure as you want them to be.  When one side is publicly fighting, it gives the impression that there is discord.  That is something many conservatives can tolerate, but the people in the middle don’t.  Nothing is going to change that.  And nothing is going to change needing the middle to get anything done.  What needs to change is the words of persuasion.

The other thing to remember is that once those in leadership are reaffirmed in their positions, they have free reign to deal with insurrection in any number of ways.  Before yesterday, John Boehner did not retaliate.  Now, every one of the people who voted against him have been stripped of committee chairs and special assignments.  The two ringleaders were kicked off the powerful House Rules Committee.  Those who did not participate are still in place.  Fortunately, there were more of the latter than the former.

What is most interesting, though, is that before this week, no Republican stepped forward to say he wanted the job as Speaker other than Boehner.  That either means no one else really wants the job, or the conference is willing to be patient and go the attrition route toward the right.  (The attrition route does work, but takes a while.)  This was noticed by just about everyone commenting on it.  There is not a conservative who is liked enough by a majority to garner the necessary votes to unseat a very powerful Speaker.

And that is why John Boehner will be Speaker of the House of Representatives until he retires or political amateurs screw up enough that the Democrats take it back.  Get used to it.

About the Author

Cultural Limits
A resident of Flyover Country, Cultural Limits is a rare creature in American Conservatism - committed to not just small government, Christianity and traditional social roles, but non-profits and high arts and culture. Watching politics, observing human behavior and writing are all long-time interests. In her other life, CL writes romance novels under her nom de plume, Patricia Holden (@PatriciaHoldenAuthor on Facebook), and crochets like a mad woman (designs can be found on Facebook @BohemianFlairCrochet and on Pinterest on the Bohemian Flair Crochet board). In religion, CL is Catholic; in work, the jill of all trades when it comes to fundraising software manipulation and event planning; in play, a classically trained soprano and proud citizen of Cardinal Nation, although, during hockey season, Bleeds Blue. She lives in the Mid-Mississippi River Valley with family and two cute and charming tyrants...make that toy dogs.