The reality of the fiasco that was the election of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House comes down to this–McCarthy wanted power and control, but also wanted his name in history as his legacy. It was about ego and little else. Instead of a legacy in a long line of influential and powerful Speakers his legacy will more likely be that of one of the weakest Speakers in history. He will mostly be remembered for the fifteen rounds of votes it took to secure the position and it will be shocking if he is able to wield any kind of influence on the intransigent activist wing of his party.
By the time it got around to the final round of votes, it wasn’t about what was best for the country or even for McCarthy’s own party, which has devolved into a dysfunctional group of insurrectionists, clowns, anti-government activists who got into government positions to destroy it from within, and a handful (maybe?) of civil servants who actually do care about the needs of the people. He didn’t care. He stubbornly insisted on continuing the fight until he had given up almost everything. It was a classic Faustian bargain, provided he even had any morals left to bargain away.
While the Democrats and those who did not like McCarthy or want him to be Speaker ate popcorn and enjoyed the show as he lost round after round, in reality it was not that funny. With each round, McCarthy had to give up more and more, until he essentially promised away the power of the position he wanted so badly. He will be nothing more than an impotent figurehead and caricature as a result. The real winners were the radicals who want to upend the government and held him hostage until virtually all of their demands were met. Matt Gaetz was smiling much more broadly after it was over than the new Speaker. One can only wonder what promises were made to secure the final tally.
The losers will be the American people. This will lead to a handful of extremists determining the course of the next Congress. If McCarthy does anything they don’t like, they can now easily remove him or block anything they don’t like. Expect virtually nothing to get done and what little does get done will not be to the benefit of the majority of the nation. McCarthy gave up his power and he sold his soul. What he bought is infamy.
About Callen Harty
Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on Amazon.com (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores,
He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History.
He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive.
Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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