Since Republicans won the House majority in 2022, its leadership has been shambles. Only nine months ago, Kevin McCarthy was elected speaker of the House after 15 rounds of voting. Matt Gaetz, the representative of Florida’s fourth district, took the spotlight during that time, as he was the ringleader of a group of far-right republicans who refused to vote for McCarthy. Even after Gaetz repeatedly said that he would never vote for the California representative, McCarthy attempted to compromise with the rebels several times. McCarthy was confident he had won over Gaetz and his associates by the 14th vote. However, when Gaetz’s name was called, he said, “Present.”
This was the moment I knew this small minority would have a long-lasting influence on the House of Representatives. McCarthy won the speaker role in the 15th round, but Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Eli Crane, Bob Good, and Matt Rosendale continued to vote present.
In September, issues with this minority returned when McCarthy went behind their backs and attempted to compromise with the Democrats to find a solution to a government shutdown. Gaetz then called a vote to oust McCarthy and successfully did so, with the final vote being 216 to 210, as all Democrats and eight rogue Republicans voted to oust McCarthy, something which had never happened in our government before. McCarthy was defeated and accepted it, as he said he would no longer be running for speaker. For the past month, Republicans have been searching for a candidate that would appease the majority of Republicans, Trump, and the far-right group.
This led to the inauguration of our new speaker, Mike Johnson, a representative from Louisiana. Of course, this is not the Speaker who far-right Republicans wanted, as that was Jim Jordan, who could not win a majority in the first three rounds of voting. It was then believed that Tom Emmer, a much more moderate candidate from Minnesota, could win the majority, but after disapproval from Trump and extremists due to Emmer’s denial of Trump’s claim that the results of the 2020 election were falsified. We now have Johnson, who may not be the far-right’s first pick, but this is still a victory for House Republicans.
Johnson was virtually unknown to Americans but was supported by most due to his non-hostile attitude and by the extremists for his conservative and traditional politics. So, why is this a win for the far-right? Matt Gaetz has now demonstrated the power he and his small group of followers hold in the House, as they not only were able to torment and oust McCarthy, but heavily influence the election of the next speaker. Now, they not only have an ultra-conservative speaker but one who will listen to their claims and requests. With a new speaker, republicans have handed the power of the many to the few.