Opinions: House speaker vote a preview of gridlock to come

Nolan Shen, Staff Writer

Fifteen rounds of voting.
That’s how long it took to elect California Republican Kevin McCarthy as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives for the 188th Congress. The last time it took this long was in 1859, when it took 44 rounds of voting.
The madness caused by this election highlights both the disorganization of the Republican party and the obstacles to come in the next congressional term.
The contrast between Democrats and Republicans has never been clearer. On Nov. 30, 2022, Democrats announced their next generation of House leadership. It was a perfect example of a peaceful passing of the torch. When the time came to vote for Speaker of the House, Democrats voted in tandem for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. On the other hand, Republicans never once voted unanimously. In the final round of voting, 6 anti-McCarthy Republicans still voted present.
Let’s be clear: there are massive ideological divides within both parties. In the Democratic party, progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are very far from more centrist members like Henry Cuellar. But when the time came to vote, Democrats on both ends of the spectrum were united.
Republicans have a similar divide: there are centrist members like Brian Fitzpatrick. Republicans have shown that they are unable to unite all wings of their party. This has damaged the public’s faith in our government.
I’d also like to point out that although they voted for Jeffries in unanimity during every single round, Democrats remained open to compromise. Yet, the anti-McCarthy wing refused to compromise.
This process also exposed flaws in McCarthy’s leadership abilities. The congressman was unable to get a consensus within his own party, unable to convince his colleagues to back him. This begs the question: is McCarthy equipped to handle such a powerful and influential position? He is only two steps away from the presidency. He has the power to control any legislation that goes through the House of Representatives. In a position as powerful as his, it is imperative that he can govern effectively. The American people are losing faith in his ability to do so.
The job of our representatives is to pass laws to promote the well-being of their constituents. A well-functioning majority party should be able to work efficiently and swiftly. The impasse congress hit while trying to elect a speaker is a preview of the gridlock to come.
If our representatives are unable to do something as simple as electing a leader with ease, how can they be expected to help Americans when they most need it?