Aww Nobody Is Listening To Mike Johnson's Calls For Unity

In ancient days, Saint Ronnie of Reagan returned from the mountaintop with a tablet engraved with the 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” Those days are as long gone as the idea of Republicans opposing Russia or holding a dishonest president to account

Instead, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is currently begging his raucous caucus to stop campaigning against each other. But since Johnson was selected specifically because he was an anonymous backbencher, it’s not surprising he lacks the authority to keep Republicans from training their abundant guns on each other. Donald Trump may be demanding party unity, but that unity is restricted to everyone obeying Trump.

In a party built on sucking up to the boss, no one should be surprised that loyalty to other members of the party is a fading memory.

As Axios reported on Thursday, the miserable attendance at the Republican retreat at the Greenbrier resort is a signal that the “circular firing squad is continuing.”

Republicans like Rep. Matt Gaetz established themselves in the party with their willingness to attack other Republicans and defy party leaders. Now Gaetz and other members of the House Freedom Caucus are openly campaigning against sitting members of the House as they promote more extreme candidates.

The head of the House Republican campaign arm, Rep. Richard Hudson, may be urging candidates to unify around their support for Trump, but this is no safe harbor in this storm. Even in the case of candidates like Illinois Republican Rep. Mike Bost, who has been endorsed by Trump in his 2024 run, Gaetz has been on the stump for Bost’s opponent after Gaetz and Bost clashed over former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Republican leaders may be telling The Hill that they believe they can expand on their shrinking margin, but that supposed optimism comes during a session “marked by bitter infighting, persistent chaos, and embarrassing defeats on the House floor,” The Hill writes. Johnson delivering a speech about how Republicans “have to stand together, stick together” at a retreat attended by less than half of his conference is not exactly a signal that a rousing chorus of Kumbaya is in the offing.

Johnson insists he’s eager to get to the election, and that part might be true enough. Not only did Rep. Ken Buck’s early departure drop the Republican margin down by another vote, Buck signaled that there were more such dropouts on the way

“I think it’s the next three people that leave that they’re going to be worried about,” Buck told Axios this past Tuesday.

If Buck’s count is accurate, it’s easy to see a phenomenon where the Republicans lose two speakers in a single session. And even if Johnson hangs onto his gavel by the skin of his teeth, there’s no sign that Republicans are going to give him anything but headaches from now to November.

This is not a party, not in the traditional sense. There is no platform. Spending months working on legislation on the order of party leadership is no guarantee of not being singled out as a traitor. This is a cult built around one man, one that has explicitly clamped down on any other source of power. 

It’s hard to get Republicans to be nice to each other when all they have in common is their shared submission. When no one and nothing matters but the boss, why not stab your fellow Republican in the back if it might give you a bump up the hierarchy of sycophants?

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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