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Dumping the madhouse

NNPA-DUMPING-THE-williams Dumping the madhouse

By Dr. E. Faye Williams

             ( — I chuckled when Speaker John Boe-hner walked to the podium singing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah! That morning was the first time I’d seen him in a jovial mood in quite a while. If we weren’t told that Boehner was announcing his retirement, I’d have been confused beyond belief. I still couldn’t figure out how retirement could have made Boehner so happy.

Moving weeks beyond his retirement announcement, it’s become crystal clear that Boehner was happy to be dumping “the madhouse” and the lunatic fringe known as the Republican Conference.

The first indication of the madness of the Republican Conference was the outbreak of truth that caused Majority Leader and Speaker heir-apparent, Kevin McCarthy, to commit political suicide with a microphone instead of a knife. Don’t get me wrong, the truth was refreshing. It was also unexpected.

Not only did McCarthy admit that the Select Committee on Benghazi was a sham, but he illuminated the waste of $4.5 million of taxpayer money. With the blow-back he received, it was inevitable that McCarthy would follow Boehner, his leader/mentor, into political oblivion. On a bright morning McCarthy strode to a podium and announced that he was withdrawing from consideration as Speaker of the House.

I’m sure that when McCarthy admitted – no, boasted – that the real purpose of the hearings conducted by the Select Committee was to politically discredit Hillary Clinton, an audible pucker could be heard throughout the Republican wing of the halls of Congress. Adding insult to injury, a newly emerged critique of the Select Committee by NY Republican Congressman Richard Hanna supports the boast that McCarthy made on The Hannity Show.

Although Boehner and McCarthy stood at their respective podia with grins ablaze, it may just be that they are the two sanest members of their conference. Both seem to have reconciled themselves to the fact that no job, even if only two heartbeats away from the Presidency, is worth the aggravation of attempting to manage the (in)activity of a do-nothing, contrarian group of extreme, no-compromise partisans.

While Boehner and McCarthy may have this understanding, it seems as though the message was lost among the Republican Congressional hoard.  No less than 25 Republican Congressmen are exploring their candidacies for Speaker.  From well-known Conservative zealots like Darryl Issa to first-term unknowns like Ryan Zinke, House Republicans have chosen to muddy the waters of the selection process principally with the names of those only marginally qualified to serve as Speaker. Because the Speaker need not be a Member of the House, Republicans have even graduated from the sublime to the ridiculous by floating the names of the disgraced Former Speaker Newt Gingrich or the epitome of “Sinister,” Former VP Dick Cheney. More importantly, the consensus choice for Speaker, Paul Ryan, refuses to commit to the job.

At the center of this debacle is the Freedom Caucus, forty ultra-conservative members of the Republican Conference. The Republican establishment asserts that they have just enough power to impede any forward legislative movement. Politico suggests that the Freedom Caucus has held the GOP hostage. Known more for their rigid unwillingness for compromise, their reputation is based on stopping any legislation they are not in complete agreement with.

Although national attention is directed to “The Donald” and Hillary, I would suggest that communities of color focus on those politicians who have brought the wheels of legislative progress to a standstill. While most congressional seats are “safe,” there are conservative/ obstructionist seats that can be successfully challenged with the efforts of progressive voters.  These challenges are essential to the future of legislation important to our communities.  How we vote, how we are taxed, how we are educated are just three of those considerations. It’s time for us to bring the madhouse under control.

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