The farce that is the GOP House leadership fight continues, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has just lost the eleventh ballot for speaker in the face of a small but entrenched far-right rebellion. The knot of far-right extremists who refuse to back McCarthy has led to chaos in the GOP, with no signs of a compromise being reached. Ringleader Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has even indicated that he'd be fine if the fallout of his putsch results in Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) ascending to the speaker position (though if a compromise is reached with Democrats to thwart the right-wing rebellion, I suspect it will not involve Jeffries as speaker).
For the most part, pretty much everyone on the left-side of the political spectrum has been content to sit back, munch on popcorn, and watch the GOP eat itself alive. Democrats are enjoying making a show of unity against GOP irresponsibility; meanwhile, Republicans are literally arguing that their decision to cripple the House doesn't matter because if a real crisis occurs President Biden will be there to set things right (the infantilization of the American right continues apace). The whole thing is one ongoing trainwreck for the GOP, and I absolutely agree with what I take to be the Democratic Party conventional wisdom that we need not lift a finger to bail out the GOP unless we get some superb concessions for our trouble.
So here's my question for the peanut gallery. I'm sure the arson caucus of the GOP has its boosters among other far-right extremists. But is there anybody on the left side of the spectrum observing what's happening here and thinking "I may not agree with their policies, but this is a savvy play by Gaetz and co."? Does anybody think this sort of performative brinksmanship is smart politics?
It doesn't seem so to me -- progressives right now are laughing our heads off at a GOP in complete disarray, and rightfully so. We're not jealous of the far-right for having the gumption to take a stand; we see just how catastrophic this whole farce is for the conservative agenda (and thank god for that!).
So perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here. Thankfully, there are few if any Democratic equivalents to the bomb throwers currently making chaos in the House. Even our far-left members so far have known when to rein it in -- a quality which sometimes yields loud cries of "betrayal!" and "spineless!" from certain corners of the commentariat. I might suggest that next time such an instinct comes over you, you remember this moment. Remember how you didn't look across the aisle and marvel at the steely-eyed rebels who stood their ground and played hardball. Remember how what you actually saw was a bunch of children embarrassing themselves and self-sabotaging for their own self-aggrandizement. And then remember that it's probably a bad idea for Democratic progressives to emulate the GOP's dumbest members' most nihilist strategies.
UPDATE: And the winner for the first prominent left outlet to praise the GOP's political savvy and declare it a model to emulate is ... Jacobin Mag! Who's shocked?