Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Boehner's Resignation a warning shot

Amidst deepening tensions within the Republican Party, House Speaker John Boehner shocked Americans last Friday announcing that he will resign at the end of October.
For the majority of his 5-year stretch he has been the most powerful individual in the House of Representatives. Boehner has been gunned by far-right conservatives, specifically the Tea Party faction, for straying from conservative principles and conceding to the whims of President Obama.
Ironically, Boehner made his name in the 1990s by openly criticizing then-President George H.W. Bush for his divergence from conservative principles during a time when House Republicans were the minority. Some went so far as to call Boehner’s ideas “radical”. Clearly, the tides have shifted.
Every member of the Republican Party touts themselves as a great defender of the revered “conservative principles” and yet so few can agree on what those principles actually consist of.
The debate over what it means to be a conservative has become galvanized by congressional member’s refusal to compromise on third rail issues such as reproductive rights, women’s rights, healthcare, and immigration.
Boehner’s resignation is nothing if not a signal of more animosity to come. Although this action may help to avert a government shutdown, it forces anyone willing to compromise to first appease the far right. Regardless of political views, a strong contingent of staunch anti-Washington within Congress critics does not catalyze progress.
A powerful instance of this policy-bending power can be observed in the Southern Democrats of the 1930s. While FDR carved out New Deal programs to save the nation from a crippling depression, Southern Democrats in the House tacked on as many pro-segregationist stipulations and earmarks as they could in defense of “the southern way of life”.
Moderates, conservatives, and fellow democrats alike had to concede because it was important to at least get something done, rather than nothing. In the end their efforts prolonged and perpetuated racial inequities that have effected American culture throughout multiple generations.
This is not to say the Tea Party will reinstate segregation, but it is an important example of how policies can be manipulated by passionate, concentrated sects of political parties.
By essentially kicking Boehner out the speaker position Tea Party has flexed its muscles and shown that they will gladly be a loud, boisterous thorn in the side of all dissidents. Despite his impressively bright orange hue, Boehner may find himself fading into the background as the screaming match intensifies in the House.
Say what you will about him, but Boehner left his position with dignity and class. His move was certainly not ordinary as it was only the second time in the history of the position that someone left before their term was up. His resignation was a gesture of respect for the institution itself, something that has become increasingly rare within America.
The next year is going to be pivotal in determining the future of The United States. Changes are already being made, and we should all be prepared for a potential shift in the values that have been driving policies. Boehner’s resignation may just have been a shot from the starting gun.

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Boehner's Resignation a warning shot