I will come out and say that we have been spoiled rotten over the last few years: we’ve been living in the Golden Age of House Republican Leadership Elections. Every episode has basically been a gripping horror-thriller of political dysfunction. Watching normal Republicans and right-wing maniacs in the Freedom Caucus wrestle for control of their party has been some must-see-TV and I seriously doubt that we’ll ever live in an era this rich with drama again.
For example, there was the Jack Bauer leadership election in 2015, when legislative terrorists Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Mark Meadows hatched a plot to politically assassinate Speaker of the House John Boehner, and Paul Ryan was sent in to save the day.
Unfortunately for Boehner, this was Season 6 of 24, which meant that the nuclear bomb went off and his career was basically over.
Following Boehner’s departure, there was The Hurt Locker leadership race to choose his replacement. This time, the Freedom Caucus suicide bombed Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s candidacy and blew it to pieces all over the House floor.
In the aftermath, survivor Paul Ryan emerged as Speaker of the House and has been a legislative leading man ever since.
Later, in 2017, the Freedom Caucus reprised its Hurt Locker role by playing the key antagonist in sequel Zero Dark Thirty [Votes Short], where hardcore conservatives blew-up every option for Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
However, despite these facts, I think that this year’s leadership election is going to be a total snoozefest, maybe even worse than Lethal Weapon 3, Rocky 5, and that shitty Independence Day sequel combined. That’s because all the Fake News Media Outlets are reporting that rank-and-file Republicans have shut their doors on the Freedom Caucus, and aren’t interested in hearing pitches for why Jim Jordan’s plan to deport every immigrant by Tuesday is a better way to build a Republican majority in 2020.
This checks out with reality, because the Freedom Caucus generally represents the most conservative districts in America. That means that the only thing they’re more scared of than a Planned Parenthood fundraiser is Donald Trump. This favors Rep. Kevin McCarthy to win Minority Leader because, according to many publications, Donald Trump has a major chubby for him and is using that to back him for Minority Leader. As long as this is true, the Freedom Caucus will stay in the hills, clinging to its guns and religion and cowering in fear.
Do I think Kevin McCarthy is going to be the next minority leader? Absolutely.
Do I think it’s a good bet at 93 cents? No way.
There is at least a 20-percent chance that the Freedom Caucus seriously misbehaves or that Donald Trump sends out a crazy tweet that will derail Kevin McCarthy’s candidacy.
However, in these unlikely scenarios, there is still no way that Jim Jordan’s bid to be Speaker will succeed. Normal Republicans hate him and won’t support him, which leaves Rep. Steve Scalise as the only viable alternative that both sides can agree on. That’s why I’m treating this election like a Powerball game: I’ve picked up 200 shares of Scalise for Minority Leader at 1-cent each. Maybe he’ll take me for a ride. Probably not, but given the odds I’m giving a Freedom Caucus uprising — 1-in-5 — a once-cent option is looking like a steal to me.
Don’t count on it being a winner though. It looks to me like audiences have moved on and the era of peak-GOP infighting is over… at least until January.