|John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives|
In the south there are many ways to make fun of a man. “His elevator doesn’t go to the top floor.” “He is such a gentleman, he gets to his feet when his wife walks in the door…carrying the firewood.” But increasingly, there is a new slight, almost as bad as being called an “Easterner.” It is being called a RINO, or Republican In Name Only.
The deeply conservative, dark red south has become more and more conservative in recent years with the rise of the TEA Party, (Taxed Enough Already), with the resurgence of the prolife progressive movements, and the new belief in fiscal conservatism. But in Washington DC this movement is still starkly under represented, as the Republican Party has become more progressive and more strictly capitalistic and prolife many voters feel that their representatives are still members of the old guard that denies the human rights of a child or the importance of freedom.
And so, slowly, ever since 2010 there has been attempts to kick out the old guard, with the rise of such men as Rubio and then Cruz, and the fall of such men as Jeb Bush, who was once the favorite to become the nominee in 2016, but now can’t get a large enough crowd to fill the utility closet at the convention center.
Eric Cantor, in a major win for progressive conservatism, the house majority leader was kicked out in 2014, and for years there have been rumblings that the conservatives would like to kick out John Boehner, Speaker of the House due to his famous, perceived lack of backbone.
And now, yesterday, surprising everyone within the beltway and few outside of it, Boehner announced he will be stepping down. There are many important points that could be taken away from that, not least of which is that only in America does a man as powerful as Boehner, in line for the presidency, resign his office of his own accord.
Boehner came to office when the Democrats were still a modern party, going to the moon, fighting the communists, and understanding capitalism. But as the party has failed to modernize, as they have more and more been caught in the past, Boehner, a man of great dignity, simply could not bring himself to fight them with the sort of vigor many Republicans wanted. And so, facing a rebellion in his ranks, the speaker seems to have thought that it would be better to go out in his time, rather than someone else’s.
Across the nation the responses were telling. Marco Rubio, in the middle of a stump speech announced that Boehner had resigned. The audience gave a standing ovation. Now the names are swirling, Paul Ryan, Justin Amish, McCarthy, etc. etc. But the vote is in the future, for now the enemies of Boehner can exult in his downfall, while those who don’t have deep opinions on him can only hope for a more progressive, more prolife, pro-fiscal conservative to take his place.
Boehner has been disliked by the rank and file of the GOP for a long time. I asked one member of Politico’s Iowa group recently if he thought it was time for Boehner to go. This man, who is very influential in Iowa politics, replied “Do you mean to jail? Because I thought he should have been removed as speaker long ago.”
Andrew C. Abbott