Speaker of the House

Last night the Speaker for the 118th Congress was elected 216-212: two years after January 6, 2021; two months after Nov. 8, 2022; three days after January 3, 2023; 15 ballots after….

My post, is here.  I have read all of the comments, from 1o individuals.  I welcome more, which I will add here.

The comment I found most interesting is attributed to Thomas Jefferson, 10 August 1824, sent by Lois.  Jefferson was then 81 years old, and died less than two years later.  This was apparently his “letter to the editor” of a new newspaper.

I have two personal comments, from personal history.  Everyone will view this history and its implications differently, as well as how to approach it, individually.  The few words following are two direct experiences that impact on my view of this latest development.  Personally, I have always identified myself as moderate, pragmatic Democrat (pragmatic for me meaning practical – we all see things differently as I learned every day in my career.).  Again, personally, I probably most identify with the progressive Republican view of things generally.  I see no contradiction.  Progressive Republicans have basically been rendered irrelevant in contemporary Republicanism.

The first is Halloween night, Oct 31, 2000.  My wife and I were in Washington D.C. and got tickets from our Congressman admitting us to the Gallery of the House, which was having an unusual evening session.

There were a few of us watching the proceeding, which was strange enough to cause a member of Congress, from Illinois, to come up to apologize to us (none of whom, I gathered, were his constituents) for what we were witnessing below.  Somebody was speaking, apparently to a camera.  There was not any semblance of unity or attention down there.  There was a gaggle of legislators on one side; on the other, another gaggle.   This was 22 years ago….

The second was ten years earlier, in 1990.

I was a full-time teacher union field representative, and had just been transferred to work in a large metropolitan school district with well over 1,000 teachers.

Since 1972, our state had collective bargaining, and part of the law required selection of an exclusive representative.  There were two competing unions.

The District to which I was transferred had not long before had a bargaining election in which the other side from mine had won representation rights by a single vote.

I don’t know why I was transferred to work there; what I do know, by that point in my career I had no enthusiasm for aggressive competition to “win” in another election.

Fast forward: the teachers, apparently, were also sick of it.

Three years later, in 1993, the locals merged, the first such merger in Minnesota, celebrated by state and national affiliates.  This was not an individual accomplishment, nor an organization win.  This was a truly collective venture, one conversation at a time.

Five years after that, in 1998, the state unions merged.  This year is the 25th anniversary of that merger.  Most present day union members were not employed when that happened – it is ancient history.

What does this mean for the future of our republic?  Obviously, I don’t know.  But it is possible to work together.  And I refer back to that Thomas Jefferson letter sent by Lois.

Rather than lament whatever, each one of us has a role starting today.  I urge you to play your part!


from SAK: I am worried at the extent the “conservatives” in the US & the UK are pandering to their extreme factions (e.g. Freedom Caucus in the US & Reform UK). The conservatives in Germany didn’t mind naming Hitler chancellor being confident they could control him! This pandering has been & will be detrimental to the country at large – exhibit A: Brexit in the UK which has divided the country & devastated its economy. Exhibit B: the House of Representatives’ election fiasco: McCarthy & his humiliating concessions in his bid to become speaker of the house as well as the more general mess that is the Republican party.

from the Atlantic:  

“Republicans don’t have a Trump problem. They have a voter problem.”

“Because I think that was what was so shocking to me, was the ease with which one in America can slide into that kind of radicalism.”

“And they sit. They watch hours of Fox News a day, and [they say,] “Our biggest problem is all of these pedophiles [sic] running through our streets or these antifa gang members marauding through our streets—like, that’s, like, our biggest problem. And if we don’t stop this, you know, caravan over the border”—I mean, you know, sort of pick your menace of the week, right?”

ACLED: Growing far right violence in the US.

I second your view: the Jefferson letter is great, reminds me of JFK’s remark honouring Nobel Prize winners of the western hemisphere:

“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

Is it me or don’t they make ’em like they used to!?

from Dick, responding to the last sentence, and to Jim, below:

I just saw Jim’s comment (below the fold), and I have only a couple of minutes before we leave for late Christmas gathering, but I do want to take a stab at this, briefly, then the two of you, or others, can respond.

Humanity is a sum of many inherited parts, and there probably are plenty Jefferson like folks who have come along since he was  among us.

The difference is called the ‘playing field’: in his day, there were only a few Americans, and only a few of the few had any opportunity beyond the plow.

Nowadays, a tweet passes for intellectual rigor, as we noted with a former President with mega-million followers, everyone talking in headlines (which is all tweets are).  Today’s Jefferson’s are basically drowned in background noise.  Back to the two of you.

PS: I was thinking, after clicking send on this post, the difference between the people in the MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA, and the people sitting in similar situations in the House of Representatives this week.  A good orchestra makes wonderful music by working together.  They are all unique individuals, with unique specialties, but along with skill, teamwork is absolutely essential.  Rivalry and tribalism are the go-to words in American governance, and probably always have been.  Getting to the top of the heap, however small the heap has to be to be on top of….



2 replies
  1. Jim Klein
    Jim Klein says:

    Responding to Jefferson and “Is it me or don’t they make ’em like they used to!?”

    No, it’s not you. There are a few polymaths, still, philosopher first and many something-elses after, and they are scattered here and there, but they tend not to rise to the apex of any one profession. And they tend not to delight us with their performance in more than one of their areas of expertise. And if they did, politics, today, would not be one that a polymath would choose in which to make his or her greatest mark. “A generally thoughtful and delightful polymath who is drawn to political service” is a thing they ain’t makin’ any more. Closest I can think of would be Elon Musk or Bill Gates, and, frankly, neither is a delight to as broad a swath of folks as Jefferson (or even Ben Franklin) was/is. I hope neither gets into actually trying to occupy a political office. Don’t think it would end well. Trump of course was another who was “several other things” before becoming a politician, so, by the actual definition, kind of a polymath. So, as noted in this blog recently, be very careful what you wish for…!! In my lifetime, in politics, besides Trump, only Eisenhower, Carter, and Reagan even sort of qualify, to varying degrees, but it’s kinda hard to think of any of them in the same breath as Jefferson, or Franklin, or even Washington, in terms of being that internally intellectually diverse. I think Obama clearly has the intellect to be, in this sense, Jeffersonian, and Bill Clinton does too, but each chose a path aimed directly at political office – they sought it to the exclusion of much else; it did not find them, as was the case for Jefferson.

  2. norm hanson
    norm hanson says:

    By prostrating himself flat on the House floor and letting the MAGA wing nuts walk all over him extracting all number of concessions that may come back to bite him in the butt, McCarthy finally got the speaker’s stool that he wanted so bad. That man has no self-respect at all but certainly a whatever it takes attitude to gain the speaker’s seat. Gonna be a rough two years that might result in more Blue-strength in 2024!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.