One of the ironies of the Speakership Kerfuffle is that the issue at stake—to the extent that there is an issue, which is, I mean, kinda—is about central partisan control over the House, and what is being demonstrated is the value of central partisan control over the House.
There’s a sense in which the history of the House and the Speakership really is the history of the shifts in power between Party Leadership, Committee Chairs and individual Members of Congress. It’s very likely that the current balance is in fact dangerously tilted toward the Speaker, in part because Nancy Pelosi was very, very good at the job. It is valuable, in a general sort of way, to have an institution where individual legislators can have real influence in the House. And, again in a general sort of way, it is valuable for individual legislators to form coalitions to leverage that influence.
On the other hand, if individual legislators can have real influence, then loose cannons can cause trouble. Not just Good Trouble. Any trouble.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
My understanding is that this is the basis behind Justin Amash (L-nowhere)’s bid for the position: He agrees that there’s been too much power concentrated in House Leadership, and vows to let individual members of the House have their say and get their priorities heard and so on, without turning the whole thing into a dysfunctional shitshow.
Needless to say, pretty much no one actually wants *that* to happen.
No disrespect to former-Rep. Amash, who has got a pair of great big brass ovaries, but it’s a lot easier to say that sort of thing than to accomplish it. And of course if a tenth (or maybe more) of your caucus have dysfunctional shitshow as both their preferred outcome and their comfort zone, well, I think that maybe concentrating the power somewhere else might be preferable.
Well, I’m not confident he could accomplish it, but I do believe that he’d try, whereas I don’t believe that Team Shitshow actually has anything constructive behind their proposals.
I also don’t think it’s very accurate to describe Team Shitshow as part of his caucus, given that, among other things, they openly threw him out of it. (Whether you’re talking about the Freedom Caucus or the Republican Party.)
Fair enough—I suppose by “his caucus” I meant “the Majority of the House”, which is the Speaker’s caucus, pretty much by definition. I mean, it wouldn’t be if it were Amash, but that’s why it won’t be Amash.
We have not seen the actual deal yet, and there may be parts of it we never do see, but it does not seem to have resulted in more power generally for individual Members to influence legislation, or for Committee Chairs (and Subcommittee Chairs) to set agendas. It seems to have resulted in more power for the specific people who had been holding out and took the deal, and also more leverage for individuals to hold things up generally (by forcing a vote of confidence in the Speaker). But as I say, we haven’t seen what the actual deal is.