Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner announced his retirement, putting an end to a thirty year long career in Congress. Some on the right have already begun to eulogize Boehner as a great leader, giving him all the credit for winning historic Republican House majorities in the last five years. But the fact is, no analysis of Boehner’s career could be further from the truth.
Boehner was in the right place at the right time to ride the Tea Party wave in 2010 and finally become Speaker of the House after toiling through the ranks of Republican leadership for decades. The Tea Party hoped to get behind a party and a leader who would stand athwart Barack Obama’s big government schemes yelling “stop.” Instead, they gave the Speaker’s gavel to John Boehner, and in return, he gave them little to no resistance to Obama abuse of executive power. Hardly an even trade.
And now that the sun has finally set on Boehner’s Speakership, the House of Representatives needs a leader who is worthy of the Tea Party’s allegiance. Names that have been floated in the past include Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas, or even one of Boehner’s Ohio colleagues, Congressman Jim Jordan. In a just world, where the Republican Party realizes who brought them to the dance in the first place, that would be the case. Instead, the odds are extremely high that Boehner’s hand picked successor, Kevin McCarthy, will hold the gavel.
The Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives have a golden opportunity on their hands. Their power has been put on display for all to see. If they can pressure a Speaker to resign, they can install the leader they want, not merely accept the fate that the establishment has in store for them. Tea Party Republicans in the House should seize the day and hand the gavel to a leader who will answer Ronald Reagan’s challenge to raise a banner of bold colors, not pale pastels.