Carpe Diem! Seize The Day!
This week we can help change American history.
The time to end Kevin McCarthy’s Speakership has come.
Feathers of Hope is a network of ordinary citizens committed to advocating for the removal and replacement of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House, thereby diminishing the power and influence of MAGA extremists in the chamber.
We have been urging moderate Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives to form a temporary bipartisan majority voting bloc for the purpose of passing a motion to “vacate the chair” and elect a new Republican Speaker who owes nothing to the minority MAGA group.
Note: This site can also be accessed by entering FeathersOfHope.net in your browser window
While most of the media coverage this week is focused on a potential government shutdown, what’s actually happening is far more sinister:
The House of Representatives itself is under attack.
* The post “Carpe Diem!” continues below contact information. *
(It explains why NOW is the time to exert our maximum effort.)
Because of the urgency of the moment, and the importance of immediate action by our network in urging both media and House Members to support the removal and replacement of Speaker McCarthy with a bipartisan majority vote to vacate the chair, contact information is shown first, ahead of the body of today’s post.
Two additional names have been added in each category, reflecting a belief that as our number of activist members surpassed 450 last week, and it continues to grow, we can make our voices heard in more places at this critical moment.
Of course, that depends on you. Whether you’ve called and written dozens of times, a few times, or never at all, This Is The Time to do your part.
Four political journalists:
Jennifer Rubin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rachel Maddow (email@example.com)
Charlie Sykes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jill Lawrence (email@example.com)
Don Bacon (NE-02): (202) 225-4155 D.C. or (402) 938-0300 District
Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01): (202) 225-4276 D.C. or (215) 579-8102 District
Mike Gallagher (WI-08): (202) 225-5665 D.C. or (920) 301-4500 District
David Joyce (OH-14): 202) 225-5731 D.C. or (440) 352-3939 District
Mr. Bacon is a former Brigadier General, and Mr. Gallagher is a former Marine intelligence officer. Mr. Fitzpatrick was embedded with Special Forces in Iraq while serving as an FBI Special Agent. Presumably, they have the training and experience to exercise clear-eyed leadership in the current circumstance.
What’s required of them at this moment is the courage that we routinely expect from young soldiers who’ve led patrols in the mountains of Afghanistan or the deserts of Iraq. Surely challenging Kevin McCarthy for the Speakership of the House of Representatives presents no greater risk.
Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08): (202) 225-5936 D.C. or (718) 237-2211 District
Ro Khanna (CA-17): (202) 225-2631 D.C. or (408) 436-2720 District
Katherine Clark (MA-05): (202) 225-2836 D.C. or (617) 354-0292 District
Pramila Jayapal (WA-07): (202) 225-3106 D.C. or (206) 674-0040 District
Hakeem Jeffries is House Minority Leader, Katherine Clark is House Minority Whip. Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna are influential progressive leaders within the Democratic Caucus.
For new readers, here are links to some previous posts that will bring you up to date on what the Feathers of Hope network has been doing :
Wait, Exactly How Will We Do This? — (Jan. 28)
Replacing McCarthy - A Progress Report — (Feb. 16)
Moderate Republicans? Really? — (March 2)
You’ve Got To Be Kidding, Kevin! — (April 26)
If McCarthy’s Out, Who’s In? — (May 18)
Joe Biden Knows How To Negotiate And Win — (May 30)
Is There A Crack In The Wall? — (June 29)
More Sand In The Gears — (July 21)
How Long Is This Journey? — (August 22)
Bring In The Clowns — (Sept. 13)
The House of Representatives itself is under attack.
News and opinion journalists are busily obsessing about negotiations over a Continuing Resolution, failure to pass appropriation bills, rules votes on the floor, and wide-ranging discussions about the effects of a government shutdown. All are effectively serving as cover for the assault itself.
On January 6, 2021, the crowd of peaceful Trump supporters who filled the ellipse that morning was used as cover by violent insurrectionists. Today, the Republican Party’s lack of competent leadership is being used for cover by about a dozen hard-core MAGA extremists within the House whose intent is far more nefarious than working out a budget deal.
While calling themselves Republicans, the attackers have no particular allegiance to the Republican party. On Thursday (9/21), Speaker McCarthy finally acknowledged the reality everyone can clearly see:
“It’s frustrating in the sense that I don’t understand why anybody votes against bringing the idea and having the debate. This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down. That doesn’t work.”
The Speaker was referring to the spectacle of individual MAGA Representatives essentially doing a tag-team act, promising to vote one way then switching their vote when the result is about to change. But what Mr. McCarthy, and the media in general, continue to misunderstand is that for the extremists, “just want to burn the whole place down” is not a metaphor.
As explained last week (see File The Fucking Motion!), in answer to the question
“What’s going on here? Why is this happening?” :
The answer is chilling, but unavoidable.
Just as on January 6, MAGA extremists now working inside the House itself, intend to accomplish two things:
Hold the government hostage to their political demands.
Vandalize the institution of Congress.
It's crucial that we understand both of these intentions. The MAGA faction is not just another minority voting bloc like Libertarians or the Tea Party. They publicly support convicted January 6 conspirators, and openly welcome the prospect of civil war.
All the posturing about spending limits, immigration policy, Ukraine military aid, and so forth is not part of a serious legislative debate. What these radicals seek is chaos and disruption, targeted at the very heart of our democratic republic.
Merely cobbling together a temporary bipartisan majority to pass appropriation bills and avert a government shutdown will not address the underlying problem. So long as Kevin McCarthy remains Speaker, the threat to our institutions of self-government will persist.
Why haven’t the extremists filed a motion to vacate the chair?
The simple answer, which is implied by Speaker McCarthy’s challenge last week to “file the fucking motion”, is that they don’t have the votes to pass it. Because the MAGA forces are zealous but amateur revolutionaries, they have embraced weapons they don’t know how to use.
During the first week of the 118th Congress, as the Republican majority was organizing the House by electing officers, passing rules and appointing committee chairs, long-standing tradition dictated that establishing party unity was paramount. The Democrats would vote for their leader to be Speaker, the Republicans would vote for theirs. Since the Democrats have only 212 votes, their leader could not be elected Speaker in a 435 member House.
We all recall how for the first time in living memory 15 ballots were required before Kevin McCarthy finally attracted enough Republican votes to win the Speakership. Getting those final few holdouts to support him came at a high price. Promises were made, appointments were bartered for votes, and rules were crafted to insure the Speaker’s indebtedness would not be forgotten.
Chief among those was the provision that a single member could introduce a motion to “vacate the chair” which if passed would strip the Speaker of his office. MAGA extremists who extracted these concessions were convinced that they had become invincible. Mr. McCarthy would be subservient to their every wish, lest he lose the gavel.
From January to May, there was no reason to believe otherwise. But when the debt ceiling negotiation with President Biden produced an agreement that largely ignored MAGA priorities, the honeymoon was over. The Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), which codified the agreement into law, passed with a decisive bipartisan majority of 314-117. Only 149 Republicans voted for the measure, along with 165 Democrats.
Kevin McCarthy’s betrayal of the MAGA faction was met with outrage, and a mini-revolt was staged. But their bluff has been called. The Republican party’s unity was a mirage. While the rule remains that a single member could introduce a motion to vacate the chair, it would not pass. By over-playing their hand, the extremists have alienated their more moderate colleagues.
The power shift is dramatic and surprisingly under-reported. Without Republican unity, a motion to vacate the chair would hand Democrats the power to decide whether Kevin McCarthy remains Speaker.
For one brief moment, Kevin McCarthy had an opportunity to lead.
With the support of a bipartisan majority in early June, Mr. McCarthy could have embraced the role of being President Biden’s counterpart in the legislature. With no fear of losing his Speakership, he could have rejected the demands of zealots too intoxicated with their own rhetoric to recognize the limits of their power.
But Kevin McCarthy is weak, unfit for the responsibility of being next behind Vice-President Harris in the line of presidential succession. His default position is to concede, to submit to whatever force exerts the most pressure on him at any given moment. And he soon reverted to catering to the MAGA extremist faction.
While Senate Republicans have been working with Democrats to craft appropriation bills consistent with the terms of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, Speaker McCarthy has been conducting negotiations within his own party caucus. Trying to reconcile the irreconcilable differences between moderate and extremist Republican factions, he has presided over a colossal waste of time. He has accomplished nothing, only further empowering those whose mission it is to sow chaos and disruption.
Now having betrayed the President and the bipartisan majority that passed the FRA, Kevin McCarthy has struggled, and failed, to produce spending bills in the House that would never pass the Democratic-controlled Senate in any case. The result is that moderate Republicans have walked away from his “leadership”. They are independently working with House Democrats to pass any legislation that will avert a shutdown, and provide time to finish the work of funding the government.
The time to end Kevin McCarthy’s Speakership has come.
Kevin McCarthy has betrayed his MAGA supporters, his moderate Republican supporters, his Democratic colleagues and the President of the United States. That is the simple and undeniable record of his nine-month tenure as Speaker of the House. With no dependable allies, and no prospect of regaining the trust and respect of House Members, Kevin McCarthy has lost all of the authority and control traditionally vested in the Speaker. In effect, the House has no leader.
It’s both unprecedented and untenable for the entire legislative process of the United States Government to be subject at any moment to complete paralysis, according to the whims of a small cadre of extremists. And to repeat, this not a side effect of policy disagreements. It is the intended effect. This faction must be directly confronted and their attack defeated.
There is no procedural solution to this state of affairs. The immediate crisis may be mitigated by passing a resolution or a series of bills. But any institution will ultimately fail in the absence of competent leadership, even in the best of times. The only remedy for failed leadership is new leadership.
As this is the moment of Kevin McCarthy’s maximum weakness, it is the moment to exert our maximum effort.
Call, write or email the individuals listed at the top of this post.
Urge the journalists to write about or host a broadcast segment about a bipartisan effort to remove and replace Speaker McCarthy.
Urge the Congress Members to organize and support a cross-party alliance for the purpose of passing a motion to vacate the chair and elect a moderate Republican Speaker.
(The replacement Speaker must be a Republican, as Republicans hold a majority of seats in the House. Defending the institution includes defending its norms and procedures.)
"If we have total gridlock, I'm going to work with like-minded people across the aisle to find someone agreeable for Speaker. We have to govern. We can't afford to have our country be stuck in neutral." -- Don Bacon (R, NE), November 15, 2022
This statement pre-dates the election of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker by about six weeks. Representative Bacon foresaw the potential for dysfunction that would flow from concessions being made by Mr. McCarthy to MAGA extremists. Sadly, his prescience can’t be denied.
Most members of this network know that Mr. Bacon would be my choice to replace Kevin McCarthy for Speaker. He has the training, skills and personal experience to lead effectively. As a progressive Democrat I disagree with him on most policy issues. But this is not about policy. It’s about forming an alliance to defend the institution at the heart of our democracy—the forum wherein policy disagreements are debated and legislation passed. As discussed in our post last week , defending our institutions is of paramount importance for resisting tyranny.
In that regard, our interests as progressives at this time align with those of Mr. Bacon and his establishment Republican allies. We all favor an orderly functioning Congress, which funds an orderly functioning government, which in turn facilitates an orderly functioning economy and stable markets. These in turn produce a stable society which is good for business, good for the arts, and good for the general welfare.
This is a network of ordinary citizens. In a democracy, we exercise our power by raising our voices. To be silent is to be powerless.
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