Editorial: Our Crisis of Governance
By October 10, 2023 0 490•
News from our nation’s capital indicates a storm at hand.
“If you want to know what it looks like when democracy is in trouble, this is what it looks like,” said Daniel Ziblatt, professor of government at Harvard University. “It should set off alarm bells that something is not right.” Ziblatt was speaking to The Washington Post upon news that – for the first time in our nation’s history – the U.S. Speaker of the House was deposed by rump members of his own party.
The deciding votes were cast by 8 members of the “Freedom Caucus” in the House, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R. Fla.), who voted to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for “caving in” to calls to avoid a government shutdown by continuing to fund the U.S. government for 40 days, while withdrawing funding for Ukraine. For his political embrace of former president Trump, Democrats also voted to depose the Speaker.
One source of tension between Gaetz, 41, and McCarthy, 58: McCarthy’s alleged support of Congressional investigations into whether Gaetz engaged in sex with minors and human trafficking.
“We are watching a very small number of folks from the House Republican conference have an outsize role in promoting a lot of congressional dysfunction and fiscal dysfunction,” said Laura Blessing, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University.
While House Republicans scramble to elect a new Speaker, news that 2024 presidential candidate Trump has fully endorsed Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio) for the position indicates the Speaker’s gavel might soon pass even further to the political right. Many therefore fear another government shutdown.
“When governments can’t respond in genuine crises,” Harvard professor Ziblatt told the Post, it “has a delegitimizing effect, and it reinforces the sense among citizens that we have to resort to other means.”
In suggesting on Sept. 22 that outgtoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, be executed, Trump – an indicted felony defendant out-on-bail in four jurisdictions — might well be inciting violence to come. Or going to jail.