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With the Republicans unable to elect a Speaker or at least one not beholden to Republican extremists, the 212 House Democrats should ride to the rescue. Electing a Speaker requires 218 yays if all 435 members vote. This means Democrats need just six moderate Republicans to vote with them to elect a Speaker.
The path to this end is clear. Find a moderate Republican to serve as Speaker with the full support of Democrats — a Speaker who would appoint the other five moderate Republicans as chairs of key committees. The deal could well attract most of the Republicans who are now supporting Kevin McCarthy.
What’s a reasonable quid pro quo to get Democratic House Members to leave aside their popcorn, blankets, and alcohol (fun, but highly disrespectful of the institution) and bail the Republicans out of their quagmire?
It’s simple. A guarantee that no ongoing election deniers be appointed to head any major House committee. First and foremost, this includes the House Judiciary Committee. Election deniers are de facto, if not de jure, violating their solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution.
What else should Democrats demand?
Democrats should be satisfied that the Speaker is someone of merit and is not continuing to commit treason. Yes, a strong word. But it’s the correct word.
Should the Democrats support McCarthy?
No. Kevin McCarthy is fully beholden to Donald Trump. He has kissed Trump’s ring so often that it’s rubbed off most of its gold plating. And McCarthy is anathema to a huge segment of House Democrats.
Would a Republican Speaker elected primarily by Democrats be viewed as a traitor by rank-and-file red House members? Perhaps. If so, the Democrats could pledge not to run opposing candidates in the six districts of the six Republicans who vote with them for Speaker.
But over time, Republicans would see they have a true Republican as Speaker — one who is appointing loyal (to the nation) Republicans as heads of House committees and who is, presumably, pushing for a moderate Republican agenda.
This patriotic act by Democrats would surely spare the country sophomoric hearings run by the likes of Jim Jordan — hearings mainly meant to provide free footage for Fox News. It will also help save the Republican Party, which has lost and continues to lose support among moderate Americans.
Hakeem Jeffries, the new House Democratic minority leader, has the opportunity to help restore the party of Lincoln, which has raked up marvelous credits to its name over the decades. Our country needs two functioning parties, but one comprised of real Americans, not closet insurrectionists.