Disorder in the House

SpeakerBoehnerby N. A. Halkides   1/22/15
How Conservative Disorganization Saved John Boehner’s Speakership  •  Like most Conservatives, I dearly wanted to see John Boehner (R-OH) unceremoniously bounced from his position as Speaker of the House.  His unwillingness to fight the Democrats, his eagerness to cut backroom deals with them, and his support for “comprehensive immigration reform” and the “cromnibus” spending bill that gave away most of the leverage Republicans would have in 2015 all marked him as unfit for any leadership position.

We all knew, of course, that it would be an uphill fight, but I had assumed that from the time of the November elections, House Conservatives would be working behind the scenes to get one of their own elected Speaker, since the desirability of replacing Establishment-men with Conservatives inside the Republican Party was such an obvious goal.

I was wrong:  Conservatives apparently didn’t even think about a revolt until the weekend before the vote was held on Tuesday Jan. 6, and no one appears to have openly challenged Boehner until the day of the election!  Here’s how it went down:

Thomas Massie (R-KY) appears to have begun working against Boehner on Monday night, less than a day before the vote.  Justin Amash (R-Mich.) announced on Facebook that he would “vote for a new speaker” on Tuesday morning, mere hours before the vote.  Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) then announced he would no longer support Boehner, and he was joined by Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Randy Weber (R-TX), and Curt Clawson (R-FL).  But who would they vote for?  In a way, it didn’t matter as long as it wasn’t Boehner since no one else was going to get a majority on the first ballot anyway.  But the lack of a unified opposition early in the game – both Louis Gohmert (R-KY) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) offered themselves as alternatives, but this seems to have occurred Monday night or Tuesday – obviously undercut the effort to unseat Boehner. (see Politico.com for some of these details).

When the vote was held, 25 dissenting Republicans voted for other candidates, leaving Boehner with 216 votes out of the 408 cast.  Now fortune was certainly with Boehner:  Michael Grimm (R-NY) resigned and a dozen Democrats were absent to attend the funeral of Mario Cuomo in New York, while still other members couldn’t get back to Washington because of bad weather, meaning that fewer than the expected number of votes were cast and fewer were needed to re-elect Boehner.  And given that Boehner’s level of support among the Establishment was strong – supposedly over 100 Representatives said they wouldn’t vote for anyone else – unseating him was never going to be easy.

But the fact is that Conservatives came within 12 votes of preventing his election on the first ballot, and had they gotten those 12 votes there’s no telling what would have happened next.  The fact is also that you can’t expect to unseat a sitting Speaker with a spur-of-the-moment effort that begins only hours before the election, and that is the point Conservatives at all levels (voter, party officer and office-holder) need to understand.

Why weren’t Louis Gohmert and some of the other Representatives mentioned above working to oust Boehner as soon as the election was over?  It seems inconceivable that they couldn’t have persuaded 12 more members to cast their votes for a viable alternative.  Would the pro-Boehner forces have begun to crumble once they realized that Conservatives were dead serious about getting a new Speaker?  That is something we’ll never know, and Conservative disorganization is the reason we’ll never know.

I may be sounding like a broken record here (see Mission: Take the GOP and almost everything else I’ve written for ST), but the fact is that organization is one of the keys to political victory (of course raw strength doesn’t hurt either) – it’s why political parties were formed in the first place.  The Establishment is weaker in numbers than Conservatives are, at least at the level of the Republican voter, yet the Establishment has maintained its control (and terrible mismanagement) of the Party because it is better organized than we are.

In the House, there is currently one Conservative group, the Republican Study Committee (RSC).   It’s a large group, comprising almost two-thirds of House Republicans.

Where was the RSC during November and December? Had it been planning to oust Boehner, it’s hard to see how the insurgent forces could have failed.  If it wasn’t planning to oust him, then either it isn’t Conservative enough or it isn’t well organized enough.  That is something House Conservatives need to start thinking about.

Meanwhile, at ground level perhaps we need an umbrella organization of Conservative Republicans whose purpose is to seize control of the Republican Party.  The Tea Party might serve that purpose if it were unified instead of being composed of several splinter groups.  How about founding something we could call UCR – the Union of Conservative Republicans?  Every Establishment-man and RINO must be opposed in a primary by a good Conservative alternative; Conservatives must also become more involved within the Party’s internal machinery.  Establishment-type precinct committeemen and most especially State Party Chairmen must be challenged by Conservatives if we ever want to gain control of the RNC.

In short, fellow Conservatives, we’ve got the ideas necessary to save our country – now we need the organizational skills to match.

Nik is a freelance writer, former professor, and has written for FrontPage Magazine.
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10 Responses to Disorder in the House

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Of course, the people who need to organize aren’t the grassroots voters (at least in terms of stopping someone like Backstabber Boehner). It’s the conservatives who operate in Versailles-on-the-Potomac who need to get their acts together.


      Absolutely, Tim. So we have to ask – what was the RSC doing? What purpose does it serve if it can’t push to get Conservatives into leadership positions? In theory, it has the muscle to get things done, but look at this week’s debacle with the 20-week abortion ban. Yes, it’s true that Congress doesn’t have the authority to restrict abortions, but that’s not why they backed down – they were scared witless about losing votes from the young, the hip, and the female. And on an issue where they would enjoy super-majority support from the general public!

      As for us grassroots types, we need to know our local precinct committeeman – and if he’s an Establishment-man, we need to help find some Conservative to replace him. That’s how we will get better county chairmen, and from there, state party chairmen and the RNC.

  2. SkepticalCynic SkepticalCynic says:

    From my station in life, I have concluded that one of the things that we are lacking in America at all levels is moral leadership. Of course, this article is about organization. If we people that claim to be Christians had any real leadership amongst us, our country would not be overrun by sin, nor would we have the near the problems we face as a country. Shoot, my minister had better not be caught in the pulpit advancing the cause of a candidate that has clear moral principles over another that does not. The use of the non-profit/tax exempt organization has co-opted our freedom of speech. I can say that the pastor of a Negro church may promote a candidate and get away with it but a church that has white members cannot. It takes an over sized pair of testicles to dare stand up against the government and the IRS and I can tell you that people of this type are rare or non-existent. I will go on to say that I wish Mr. Boehner had been denied his leadership position for the very reasons that are mentioned in the article. The status quo in our government cannot continue if we are not to go the same route as the Greeks and Romans.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    This is why I got involved at a local level about 10 years back. Collin county is one of the more conservative counties in the State, yet we kept sending big spenders to the commissioner court and local governments. There was a small rebellion against some of these people who had been in office for over a decade. As I recall, one city official voted to give herself a longevity bonus for having been re-elected so often.

    We are going through a similar situation again. Plano’s city council just passed and ordinance giving “protection” to the LGBT crowd. They tried to do this on the sly by giving only 2-3 days notice that the ordinance was to be voted on. Even so, there was a large crowd at the City Council meeting and those against the ordinance were, easily, tens times larger than those for it. The City Council thumbed their noses at the people and passed it.

    Within 2-3 days, a group of citizens got together and put together a petition drive demanding the ordinance be repealed or calling for a vote on it. They had only 30 days to gather about 3,800 signatures for the petition to succeed and it was looking iffy. But on the day the petition was submitted, it contained over 7,000 signatures.

    It is unlikely the City Council will repeal the law, so it looks like the ordinance will be put to the vote in May. If we are victorious, the next step is to go after the mayor who pushed this ordinance, and called those who disagreed with him as “hate-mongers.”

    • Timothy Lane says:

      To liberals, a hate-monger is anyone who disagrees with them enough to lead the liberal to him.


      Good for you, KFZ! That’s the way to do things – pressure Republicans at the local level to toe the Conservative line, or else forfeit Conservative support (which should be fatal). We will never get anywhere until we control the Republican Party or establish a new one of our own.

  4. David says:

    I’m surprised that ‘you’re’ surprised.
    Boehner’s schedule has always been edited by democrats. A thoughtful review of his voting record shows his true colors.


      What surprised me was not Boehner himself, at this point, but the lack of an organized Conservative revolt against him. I can’t understand how any Conservative Republican in the House would not have been thinking about replacing him. And perhaps some Conservatives were – but if so, they didn’t get their act together in time to do any good. Perhaps too many are still not aware of the huge gap between Conservative and Establishment – the subject of a future article.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Well, I don’t think it will be long before anyone with a functioning brain will realize how big the gap is. Whether that does any good in Versailles-on-the-Potomac depends on whether anyone there has a functioning brain, of course.

  5. Jerry Richardson says:


    What surprised me was not Boehner himself, at this point, but the lack of an organized Conservative revolt against him. I can’t understand how any Conservative Republican in the House would not have been thinking about replacing him. —NAHALKIDES

    I too have been surprised, and annoyed; I wanted and still want Boehner gone.

    Yet after reflection, I think perhaps the problem is that in our collective efforts to defeat Democrats—which definitely should continue—we don’t sufficiently scrutinize (vet) the candidates (usually Republican) that we are boosting as replacements.

    This, of course, is a huge downside to choosing the “lesser of two evils” which I think is somewhat unavoidable; but I think political-organizations that any of us belong to have an urgent need to get very pointed with candidates about the positions they support that are important to us. In the exuberance of replacing Democrats, I think people largely forgot about the need to clean-up some Republican messes also.

    Your guidance on the essential-need for proper political organization, if followed, would go a long way in mitigating the problem of too little vetting of candidates.

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