Deccan Chronicle
Opinion

DC Edit | Speaker battle leaves US bruised

Deccan Chronicle. | DC Correspondent

Published on: January 8, 2023 | Updated on: January 8, 2023
 The saving grace is the White House remains the preeminent centre of political power with a capacity to govern. (Photo: AFP)

The saving grace is the White House remains the preeminent centre of political power with a capacity to govern. (Photo: AFP)

Kevin McCarthy is the Speaker after a bruising battle, but the traditions of US democracy, once considered a model for the free world, were fortunate to have barely survived. In near cringeworthy bargaining, the ambitious McCarthy managed to win over extreme elements of the Republican Party. However, he may have given away much of his powers as well as the security of his position as he won 215-212 in the 15th round of a head count in what was the 15th such battle for Speakership in American history.

The path ahead is filled with uncertainty in a highly polarised United States. The emerging forces of fragmentation, engendered in election denialism post-2020, will continue to torment the political system in the road to the presidential election of 2024. It is institutional authority that was eroded as a four-day drama unfolded in a desperate test for democracy’s legislative functions after the fifth longest contest for Speaker.

What was witnessed was the enhancement of power in the modern age to fuel factional conflicts within parties thus lessening their ability to manage themselves, leave alone govern. The saving grace is the White House remains the preeminent centre of political power with a capacity to govern while commanding a modicum of party discipline. But that too could be stretched in the Democrats losing the House of Representatives.

Fears over the passing of eccentric, even outlandish, legislation in the wake of numerous concessions already extracted from the Speaker by the renegade division of far-right legislators, may be real. They are offset by the fact that the ruling party holds control of the Senate and its power to veto any laws that the Grand Old Party might drum up in the House if held to ransom by attention-seeking legislators who appeared more interested in politics as theatre than the legislative process and the power to make laws.

The delivering of effective governance is going to be challenged by opposition to government funding too while the House names committees to probe Joe Biden’s son Hunter or even the 2020 election and so on. As American democracy gets set to grapple with the yet unknown lessons and consequences of the divisive Speakership battle, that nation is headed for interesting times.

 

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