With a Republican Party hijacked by extremists, Trump could even be in the chair

Most of the Republicans who voted against McCarthy this week were backed by the former president ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. Most of them also share his view that Biden’s presidential victory was rigged, or are part of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, or both.

Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump gather in front of the US Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021.

Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump gather in front of the US Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021.Credit:AP

And most of them are fueled by the anti-establishment fervor that accompanied Trump’s rise to power in the first place. In fact, far-right Congressman Matt Gaetz has even named Trump speaker thanks to bizarre house rules that allow anyone to be named a candidate, regardless of whether they’re in office.

“If you’re going to drain the swamp, you can’t put the biggest alligator in charge of the exercise,” Gaetz said of his refusal to endorse McCarthy.

However, McCarthy’s sycophantic embrace of the former president also helped seal his own fate.

It’s hard to forget how, days after the Capitol attack in 2021, the California Republican rushed to Mar-a-Lago to support Trump, hoping it would increase his chances of gaining the speakership he had sought for years gain

Now, thanks to the Republicans’ worse-than-expected showing in the midterms, Trump’s influence has waned, and McCarthy is increasingly dependent on the voices of the hard-line rebels within his ranks.

The votes will be counted to appoint a speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington on Friday.

The votes will be counted to appoint a speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington on Friday. Credit:Bloomberg

The question is what happens next?

McCarthy has spent weeks trying to woo his critics by offering a series of concessions in hopes of securing the 218 votes he needs to win the hammer.

He agreed to remove metal detectors around Capitol Hill. He agreed to give members of the Freedom Caucus more seats on the powerful House Rules Committee so they can exert greater influence over amendments that can be considered – or blocked – in the chamber.

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And he’s even crossed his own “red line”: he tentatively approved a controversial deal that would allow a single member of the House of Representatives to force a snap vote that could oust a person from the speakership. If accepted, such a move would ensure that his leadership – or whoever ends up as speaker – would be significantly weakened.

And yet it wasn’t enough to sway a single vote in his favour. In a party hijacked by extremists, will there ever be enough? McCarthy bets on it.

“That’s not how you start,” he said defiantly tonight. “That’s how you end up.”

https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/with-a-republican-party-hijacked-by-extremists-even-trump-could-be-speaker-20230106-p5caps.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world With a Republican Party hijacked by extremists, Trump could even be in the chair

Callan Tansill

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