The speaker’s race may get worse before it gets better

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Amidst all the hand-wringing and outrage about the ill-timed replacement of the Republican Speaker of the House, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture: this is what freedom looks like.

It isn’t easy. It isn’t fast. And it often isn’t pretty. Sometimes it’s a knock-down drag-out power struggle. That’s what governance from the bottom up looks like. Our Founders knew that. And they chose it anyway.  

That’s because the orderly, top-down power structure of dictators like Chinese president Xi Jinping comes at a huge cost to the people. Here in America, our power struggles happen out in the open, at least mostly in the open. Our representative republic can be cumbersome and chaotic, but only because we allow so many different voices to engage in the political process.  

The battle playing out in the halls of Congress is a feature of our system, not a bug. We can disagree with the actions of those who precipitated this vacuum of leadership at such a critical time. I disagree with their strategy even as I sympathize with their grievances. Nonetheless, I’m grateful the Speaker’s race is competitive – at least on the Republican side.

Certainly the Democrats enjoy less chaotic leadership changes. They fundamentally believe in top-down leadership, with a strong central government calling all the shots.  It’s in their DNA.  I believe this translates into a kind of lockstep caucus in which Nancy Pelosi was allowed to call all the shots.

For the Democrats, they profess to represent the American public, but their power structure emanates from the top. The elitists and big money control today’s Democrat Party, not the working man or woman despite the desperate attempt to brand the party as swelling from the grassroots.

That’s much less true in the Republican Party, but more true than the ‘progressives’ of today. For the most part, Republicans remain the party of individual rights, self-determination, grassroots leadership, and local control. That translates to how the body functions in the U.S. House of Representatives, the people’s house. In the GOP, they squabble, negotiate, disagree, and actually debate.

I’m as frustrated as anyone about the House Republicans’ fruitless quest for consensus at this critical time. But for all the Republicans complaining about one person wanting to re-vote on who is the Speaker, you voted for that right in the Rules. Hard to complain about something you voted for, but now dislike less than a year later.

Yet, we should all be grateful for a system that still enables such battles to play out where power is not absolute and perpetual.

Freedom is not for the faint of heart. It’s for people who can handle the chaos of a representative republic. We can. And we will. Somehow, some way we will figure out our way through this and be a stronger republic because of it.

The speaker’s race may get worse before it gets better. It could be a long battle.  But in the end, we are better off for letting it play out. We must be patient, even as we make our own demands known. This is the system that produces the greatest happiness, growth and prosperity the world has ever known. 

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