Say what you want about the Democrats, but they know how to be united when they need to get their agenda through. Even when the fate of Obamacare was in the hands of a small group of “moderate” Democrats, they kept the drama largely out of the spotlight and made a backroom deal to get it done. It may have been bad for the country, but it showed just how well Democrats understand that while they may have subtle differences in opinion on some issues, they need to rally around their common policy goals.
Republicans? Pffft. For some reason, they can’t seem to not air their grievances with each other without making a public spectacle, as various factions within the GOP insist on a “my way or the highway” approach to settling their differences. The most recent example came after the passage of the stopgap measure that averted a government shutdown. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has threatened to file a motion to oust Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker. Meanwhile, some in the GOP are plotting to expel Gaetz from the House.
I’m not here to defend McCarthy or Gaetz, nor am I going to attack either of them. The Continuing Resolution funds the government through mid-November, and all the different factions within the Republican Party have to get together and negotiate in good faith and understand that no one is going to get everything he or she wants.
While Democrats are mindless automatons who follow the orders of party leadership, the division within the GOP should be viewed as an opportunity for constructive debate, not a weakness that hinders them and exposes internal disagreements.
House Republicans hold a narrow majority and as such, they cannot afford internal conflicts. Such conflicts will hamper the party’s effectiveness and embolden the Democrats as they sit on the sidelines and watch the GOP’s circular firing squad. If the Republican Party wants to advance its legislative agenda and prevent potential losses in upcoming elections, it must maintain a united front and be open to compromise within its own ranks.
We already went through the embarrassing multi-ballot speaker election earlier this year, which stood in stark contrast to the immediate rallying of Democrats behind Hakeem Jeffries as their new party leader in the House. Jeffries managed to get more votes in each round than McCarthy did for speaker, and Democrats justifiably mocked Republicans, accusing them of being more focused on fighting each other than addressing the problems facing the country and of being unable to govern. To an extent, they had a point. And as we get closer to the 2024 elections, Republicans need to get their act together because this division will only hurt their chances of holding onto the House.