John Boehner was re-elected as Speaker of the U.S. House on Tuesday and even though he was expected to be re-elected, the election included an historic amount of drama.
A total of 25 conservative Republicans refused to vote for Boehner, splitting their votes among each other, with one simply voting “present.”
Since Boehner still received 11 more votes than he needed to win on the first ballot, the issue of his re-election was never in doubt.
But according to the Washington Post, it was the largest rebellion against an incumbent speaker by his own party since the Civil War.
The conservative Republicans behind the stunt didn’t have another viable candidate, but merely wanted to embarrass Boehner by not having him be elected on the first ballot.
Speaker Boehner is the object of this rebellion from conservative Republicans reportedly for his willingness to work with Democrats and President Obama.
For me, that criticism is a hard sell after the last Congress was the least productive in generations. The concept that the only way to govern is to insist that things can only be done one way seems to chafe at the democratic ideal.
When described as an historic rebellion, it may look like Speaker Boehner has a problem within the ranks, but I do not think that is the case.
This is not 2010 when Tea Party influence within the GOP was at an all-time high.
This is 2014 and most Republicans have come to recognize that winning general elections mandates winning over independent voters. Republicans can stick to principle but working together with Democrats does not equal capitulation, as many conservative Republicans assert.
There is a larger prize for Republicans in 2016. If the GOP plays its cards right, it would have a decent shot at the Oval Office, if it is lucky enough to nominate the right person and handle Congress effectively in the next two years.
Handling Congress effectively begins with the understanding that governing includes occasionally working across the aisle.
While he is not without his faults and problems, Speaker Boehner does not represent the problems for the GOP moving forward. Frankly, the 25 Representatives that refused to vote for him do.
If the GOP would like to add to its recent success after the 2014 election, it will not double down on a brand of conservatism that mandates no cooperation with Democrats and forget about embarrassing revolts against incumbent Speakers.
The strategy didn’t work on Tuesday and it won’t work as a method of governing.
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– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.