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MIKE MCKENNA: Why You Shouldn’t Really Care About Who The Next Speaker Is

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Michael McKenna Contributor
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Despite what the legacy media says or writes, you really shouldn’t care who the speaker of the House of Representatives is unless you are part of his or her crew.

Speakers of the House do not create a lasting imprint on American history. They do not alter the trajectory of the American experiment. (RELATED: PETER ROFF: Politicians Are Digging America Into A Deeper Hole With Their Earmark Obsession)

If you doubt that, try a thought experiment. Who was the speaker the day you were born? Now, who was the president the day you were born? For just about everyone, the answer to one of those is easy and the answer to the other is impossible without resorting to Google.

Or ask yourself, what did Joe Cannon or Nick Longworth do to warrant buildings being named for themselves?

Consequently, it is not surprising that the American public is pretty confident that this now three-week festival to elect the next speaker is a pointless exercise. A recent survey by Emerson College (1578 registered voters, conducted Oct. 16-17, 2023, right in the middle of the ongoing embarrassment) is instructive.

When asked about most important issue facing the United States, the peasants out in the country mentioned the issues they always mention – the economy, health care, crime, immigration, education. In short, the things they actually care about.

Approximately no survey respondents answered: “deciding who should be the next speaker of the House of Representatives.”

What the House of Representatives does on a daily basis is just not that important to the rest of the country; only a third of adults can even name their own Member of Congress. That’s healthy; no one wants to live in a country where the federal government is so important that people know all about Congress.

Additionally, no matter who is selected as speaker, neither the composition of the House nor the context in which it operates has changed or will change. The Senate is still controlled by Sen. Joe Manchin (and sometimes Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins or Kyrsten Sinema).

The White House is still controlled by President Barack Obama’s alumni society. The House remains narrowly divided.

A new speaker is not going to change any of that.

Nor has the policy orientation of the House or the Republicans changed. Congressional Republicans remain firmly wedded to the status quo; the dispute between the revolutionaries and the former speaker was over about $70 billion — or about 1% of a $6.5 trillion budget, that is currently $1.7 trillion dollars in deficit.

In short, the boat is taking on billions of gallons of water a day, and the most aggressive folks in the Republican Party are hoping to bail it out with a teaspoon.

Only Jodey Arrington, chairman of the House Budget Committee, even bothered to propose a budget that would balance in the next decade. That budget was, of course, completely ignored.

Instead, for whatever reasons, Congressman Matt Gaetz and his crew decided to dynamite the spending and procedural guardrails they had carefully negotiated with Speaker Kevin McCarthy. That decision removed whatever spending restraint the Republican conference may have had and left the Republicans at sea without a compass, sextant or map.

Adding more candidates — the list is now up to nine — to the scrum is not a good answer, either, even though some of the new contestants are probably improvements over the last candidate.

We need to try something different.

Five hundred years before Christ, the Athenians selected their assembly (consisting of 500 citizens) by lottery. All citizens were eligible to be selected to be a member of the assembly, except those who had recently completed a turn in the assembly.

This lottery system provided an important check against the possibility of factions or individuals gaining too much power, as well as de facto term limits. It also ensured that all citizens would have a granular understanding of their government.

The House Republicans — who may shortly be shorn of all pretense that they can come up with a compromise candidate — should mimic the Athenians and select the next speaker through a lottery.

It can’t be worse than what they’ve been trying.

Michael McKenna was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House. He co-hosts a weekly podcast, The Unregulated.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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