All too often we witness “what is possible” and not “what is best” in American politics. Kevin McCarthy’s fifteen attempts at scoring from the free throw line last week were an absolutely amazing example of the nihilistic tendencies of the Republican party. The fact that two dozen or so self-serving toddlers would engage in a food fight in front of the three hundred thirty million people that they are supposedly governing was astounding. Each of the “Never Keviners” got their fifteen minutes of fame and McCarthy was exposed as the craven power-seeking shill that he is. Was it ever thus?
According to historians, no. McCarthy’s lack of a coalition goes all the way back to our last insurrection. Prior to the Civil War, in 1859, it took 44 ballots to secure the speaker-ship for William Pennington a Republican. Pennington, like McCarthy, lacked the ability to pull enough votes together from his peers and it took forty-four votes to get him the prize. One year into his leadership the South decided they would form their own government in spite of his introduction of the Corwin Amendment. The amendment would have given the states freedom from interference from the federal government regarding slavery. Slavery and its tentacles bring us to our discussion of a man that was the antithesis of Kevin McCarthy.
I’m talking about former Georgia Congressman, John Lewis. Lewis was one of ten children born to sharecropper parents in Troy, Alabama. Poverty and segregation were built in excuses for not succeeding, but John Lewis was determined to be a minister to the people. His “calling” led him to be deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement at an incredibly young age. When he was denied admission to Troy University, he wrote Martin Luther King to see if they could sue the local university for discrimination. Dr. King advised that suing the university could have physical implications for his family and that John should attend a university where he would be racially accepted. Lewis graduated from the American Baptist Theological Seminary and was ordained a Baptist minister. His work was just beginning.
Through the sixties and seventies Lewis was involved in countless demonstration and marches. He preached non-violence and tolerance as the methodology for correcting America’s societal disparities. He was arrested forty times between 1960 and 1966 and hospitalized near death for the beating he took on the March to Selma in 1965. “Bloody Sunday” nearly extinguished the light that would brighten up the Congress for thirty-three years. A lesser man might have backed off and given up his philosophy of ‘Get in good trouble, necessary trouble,’ but not John Lewis. At age 74 he had the courage to do the right thing for the innocent lives taken in the Orlando shooting. He called for a sit in in Congress, exposing the Republicans for the puppets of the gun industry that they are.
Is the term “puppets” too harsh? I don’t think so, not when ninety percent of the American public wants stronger gun laws.
What are the first offerings of a McCarthy led Congress? Behind door number one we’ve got the defanging of the Congressional Ethics Office. Abolish the ethics oversight of congress critters, sure, why would a congress person need ethics? Behind door two, defund the IRS. Making sure that the aristocracy pays their share of the cost of providing a government for all is a burden on the Republican’s donors. Why should they help pay for the armed forces that defend us all? Behind door number three, investigate the investigators. There has to be some reason all of these Republican insurrectionists are getting incarcerated. Inquiring minds like pedophile enabler Jim Jordan want to know why Democrats aren’t getting locked up in equal numbers. There may be some sort of cause/effect issue here that the Republicans just don’t get.
In short, though the beloved John Lewis is gone, there are others out there like him that are willing to serve all of the American public with dignity. It is our duty to find them, promote them, and vote for them. Otherwise, we’ll continue to see the likes of Kevin McCarthy throwing up air balls and thinking he’s scoring for the American people.