The United States of America has a bicameral legislature. This lofty description is usually followed by a brief nod to the differences between the two Houses. The Senate- small, with long terms in office. Stately. And below, Congress. Regular elections, a multitude endlessly teeming, seething, screaming and scheming. And that, as the comedians of the Catskills would once have put it, is just the Republicans.
The framers of the US constitution deeply distrusted representative democracy. That’s why they dropped both an elected aristocracy and an elected monarch on top of the system, just to keep them down. I guess if you’re at the top of a slave society, you’re always going to worried about what the people below you might do, given a chance.
This week, and every week, the Republican Party has been working hard to ensure that those founding fathers were proved right.
The Republicans’ third nominee for Speaker of the house since they narrowly won in 2022, Jim Jordan, failed repeatedly to win enough votes from his own party to get elected. In this he followed the loser path of the previous guy, named Steve, from last week. They both followed Kevin McCarthy, who managed to hold the job for 10 whole months, making him now the Elder Statesman of Failboys.
To explain what is happening, I would first ask you to imagine you are an idiot.
You win election to Congress because you promise the idiots in your party who live near you that you will be a mouthpiece for their stupidest and worst thoughts in Washington DC. You don’t have to worry about even thinking about anyone who isn’t in your party, let alone persuading them to vote for you, because your electorate is grotesquely Gerrymandered. Once you get the party nomination, for the majority of all congressional seats, you don’t have to ever worry about not getting elected.
As a result, these Congressional representatives arrive without ever learning how elections work. They are politicians who are outraged at the practice of politics.
As an example, here’s Matt Gaetz, Republican supporter of Jim Jordan and the answer to the question “what if I overinflated this Rob Lowe balloon I got from Wish?”
“[Jim Jordan was] knifed by secret ballot, anonymously, in a closed-door meeting in the bowels of the Capitol. This was truly swamp tactics on display.”
Voting for officeholders by secret ballot and electorates expressing their preferences! What is this system even called?
The most recent failure followed the model of the hopeless candidate coming closest to being elected on his first go, and then seeing his fellow weasels realise he’s a loser and increasingly scramble to abandon him for the next Aunt Sally to be propped up at the coconut shy.
Next week, they’ll do it all again with a series of personifications of the phrase “Diminishing Returns”. My money is on them all just eventually giving up and voting for the Elder Failboy to be restored and never speaking of it again.
The Tories lost two more by-elections, in absurdly safe seats. Both flipped directly to Labour. This brings a total of five by-election results since Rishi Sunak became PM. They’ve suffered crushing losses in four and held the fifth by the skin of their teeth because of a local annoyance at having to pay to drive into London as part of an effort not to see children die of bad air.
Of course, the lessons he took from this 4-1 score was to announce that he was now the candidate who would promise bad air to everyone across the U.K.
He cancelled train projects and promised to see the U.K. resile from all the things it had promised it would do to meet its carbon emission pledges. If chosen to lead the British people he would deliver blackened lungs throughout the nation, he pledged.
This week’s fresh failures suggest that presenting himself as the candidate who will work to end civilisation on planet Earth if it makes for cheaper parking has not been the vote-getting voter proposition he may have expected.
Corrections: This article originally got Matt Gaetz’s first name wrong, after checking his surname repeatedly. The author regrets both the error and having to know of the existence of Matt Gaetz.