[UPDATE: The first vote has just been completed on the house floor and Jim Jordan failed to get 217 of the 432 members present and so has not become speaker and there will have to be another vote. The final results were Democrat Hakeem Jeffries 212, Jordan 200, and others 20. All 212 Democrats voted for Jeffries while the ‘other’ votes were Republicans who voted for people other that Jordan and thus have been able so far to resist the thuggery of Jordan and his allies. Nancy Pelosi and Mary Peltola of Alaska were present this time and got big applause from Democrats when they voted for Jeffries. Pelosi was absent for the McCarthy vote because she was attending Diane Feinstein’s funeral while Peltola was absent because of the death of her husband. When the final results were announced with Jeffries the top vote-getter, Democrats broke out in loud applause, no doubt to rub it in to the Republicans, who looked glum and were silent.
Lauren Boebert was seated between serial liar George Santos and Matt Gaetz who initiated the McCarthy removal but she seemed to have refrained from any hanky-panky, unlike when she was attending Beetlejuice.]
I have written many times before about how the Republican party has given up on pretty much all of the norms of democratic governing. They have abandoned the idea of winning people over to their point of view and instead gone full tilt into political thuggery as a means of achieving power. This is best exemplified by their whole-hearted adoption of serial sex abuser Donald Trump’s (SSAT) Big Lie that he actually won the 2020 election, a denying of reality that is so outrageous that it boggles the mind that any sane person could believe it. Indeed, one has to assume that many of the advocates of the Big Lie among the party’s representatives in Congress and its supporters in the media don’t actually believe it but have decided that it is the only way to gain he support of MAGA fanatics and the political costs of opposing it in terms of retribution are too high to pay.
In short, we have reached the point where political thuggery is the main tactic being used.
The attempt by GOP members of the House of Representatives to elect Jim Jordan as speaker is another example of political thuggery in action. By any reasonable standard, Jordan should be a pariah and nowhere close to becoming a political leader. Apart from the credible evidence from hundreds of former wrestlers at OSU that when he was an assistant coach, he ignored the widespread sexual abuse of athletes by the he team doctor, Dan Friedman and David Corn list his many other should-be disqualifying characteristics, many of which involve his active participation in trying to commit electoral fraud.
Many Republicans endorsed Trump’s Big Lie about the election. But Jordan was one of only a handful of congressional Republicans who actively conspired with Trump to overturn the election results. As he runs for House speaker, Republicans appear eager to ignore that. Yet by embracing Jordan they tie themselves further to that attack on democracy and the Constitution.
Jordan was an early and enthusiastic recruit in Trump’s war on the republic and reality—in public and in private.
Days after the November election, he spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally in front of the Pennsylvania state capitol. He spread election conspiracy theories within right-wing media. He endorsed Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell’s bogus claims that Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic had robbed Trump of electoral victory. He called for a congressional investigation of electoral fraud for which there was no evidence and demanded a special counsel be appointed. He endorsed state legislatures canceling vote tallies and selecting their own presidential electors. He urged Trump not to concede. He demanded Congress not certify Joe Biden’s victory in the ceremony scheduled for January 6, 2021.
Jill Lawrence says that we should not harbor any hopes that Jordan will suddenly transform into some kind of statesman upon election.
In a 2017 Politico interview, former House Speaker John Boehner unforgettably described his fellow Ohioan this way: “Jordan was a terrorist as a legislator going back to his days in the Ohio House and Senate. . . . A terrorist. A legislative terrorist.” Boehner returned to this point in April 2021, when he had a book coming out about his time in Congress. CBS interviewer John Dickerson asked him about calling some lawmakers “political terrorists” and Boehner replied: “Oh, yeah, Jim Jordan especially, my colleague from Ohio. I just never saw a guy who spent more time tearing things apart—never building anything, never putting anything together.”
Apparently in his sixteen years in congress, he has never authored a single bill that has passed, even during the years when the GOP was in the majority.
The way Jordan has set about trying to get 217 votes to get elected speaker is very telling. Normally the process involves cajoling and bribing congresspeople, whether trying to persuade them that you would be a good choice or offering them some goodies like funding projects in their districts, supporting some pet agenda item, or offering them desirable committee slots. This is what McCarthy did in January and indeed Jordan took advantage of that by demanding and getting the chair of the judiciary committee.
That approach does not seem to be what Jordan has done in seeking votes. Apparently over the weekend he has released the contact information of those who do not support him and urged the MAGA crazies to harass the holdouts and flood them with threats about being primaried if they do not support Jordan.
This is political thuggery. Will it work? It appears that he has managed to get some opponents to say that they will support him. If that is not enough to get the 217 in the secret balloting within his party conference, he plans to hold a vote on the house floor where the votes are public and the pressure will increase.