Former Virginia Congressman and Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times (see Eric Cantor: The GOP, After John Boehner) about U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s decision Friday to step down at the end of October, giving up not only the speaker role but also his congressional seat:
Richmond, Va. — LIKE so many others, I was stunned by Speaker John A. Boehner’s announcement on Friday that he would step down at the end of October. For nearly six years — first as Republican whip and then as majority leader — I met with John on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis as we worked to lead the House Republican Conference. It is no secret that we had different styles and personalities, but he was always selfless, a man who put the nation, his constituents, the House of Representatives and the party before himself.
Friday was another selfless act. By stepping down amid the tumult in the House conference, he has given my former colleagues in the House, fellow members of the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement a chance to demonstrate to the American people that we are prepared to govern and worthy of their trust.
But the next part of his op-ed speaks volumes, even above the clamor of those celebrating Boehner’s decision to leave:
… the American people elected Republicans to the majority in the House. And Mr. Obama’s liberal platform ground to a halt. Spending actually went down. Republicans, led by Speaker Boehner, provided the check and balance voters had demanded.
But somewhere along the road, a number of voices on the right began demanding that the Republican Congress not only block Mr. Obama’s agenda but enact a reversal of his policies. They took to the airwaves and the Internet and pronounced that congressional Republicans could undo the president’s agenda — with him still in office, mind you — and enact into law a conservative vision for government, without compromise.
In a two-party system, compromise is essential. Without it, Congress stands at gridlock. As in 2013 when Ted Cruz and allies successful shut down the government, causing anger from those affected and a hugely negative affect on Republicans, a shutdown is again being called for:
Strangely, according to these voices, the only reason that was not occurring had nothing to do with the fact that the president was unlikely to repeal his own laws, or that under the Constitution, absent the assent of the president or two-thirds of both houses of Congress, you cannot make law. The problem was a lack of will on the part of congressional Republican leaders.
Now we see that these same voices have turned to the threat of a government shutdown or a default on the debt as the means by which we can force President Obama to agree to their demands. I wonder what they would have said, if during the last two years of President Bush’s term, the Democratic congressional majority had tried something similar.
There are voices of reason on the Hill and they hold the majority but are shouted over by the tea party backers who make big promises backed up by “conservative” talk show hosts who incite the angry masses. It’s disingenuous at best; a down-right train wreck at worst. And it’s damaging the democracy of this country.