We Need To Be Talking About This
On becoming part of the national conversation
Note: This site can also be accessed by entering FeathersOfHope.net in your browser window
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? — (January 28)
Replacing McCarthy - A Progress Report — (February 16)
Moderate Republicans? Really? — (March 2)
Spread The Word, Write or Call Today — (April 6)
Escape From MAGA World — (May 3)
Is There A Crack In The Wall? — (June 29)
More Sand In The Gears — (July 21)
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.
Only a bipartisan majority in the House can prevent a government shutdown.
This is not a news flash. It’s a known fact, disputed by no one. Nevertheless, the D.C. establishment, seduced by its media affiliates, is now ramping up for a crisis charade next month.
The MAGA /Freedom Caucus faction will be directing Speaker Kevin McCarthy to bring their ludicrous appropriation bills to the floor. There’ll be breathless press coverage of the “negotiations” (i.e., Republican in-fighting between normies and extremists), while the most outrageous denunciations of something known as a Continuing Resolution will be amplified and “discussed” as if there are serious policy disputes taking place.
There are none. This not about policies or procedures.
Far more accurate would be to describe the coming conflict as a non-violent assault on the legislative branch of our government, comparable in many respects to the violent assault on January 6, 2021. And like that attack, it’s as predictable as it is avoidable.
The difference is that the perpetrators next month will be elected Representatives. The similarity is that they are all believers in the same MAGA ideology, with no discernible program or agenda other than the sowing of disruption and destruction.
For the entire 7 months of the 118th Congress, these MAGA extremists have repeatedly demonstrated their disregard for the honest discussions, reasonable compromises, orderly investigations, and respect for norms and precedents necessary for a regularly functioning legislature. In the Spring they openly advocated for a U.S. debt default, which would have resulted in an economic catastrophe. Worse, they have publicly and proudly declared their support for convicted and sentenced participants in the January 6 attack.
In short, only those with the most to lose are preparing for a charade.
The MAGA/Freedom Caucus faction intends to inflict genuine, lasting damage. And they will continue to do so repeatedly, until directly confronted and handed an unmistakeable defeat. That defeat is necessarily the removal and replacement of Speaker McCarthy. Without him, their power will be severely limited.
Again, just like in January, 2021, this is predictable and avoidable. But unlike two and a half years ago, this time we know exactly what to do about it.
Responsible establishment Republican leaders need to work directly with the Democratic leadership team and form their cross-party alliance as early as possible. The bipartisan House majority can and must prevent the coming attack on our government before it gets underway.
Our role is to sound the alarm, spread the word, alert the populace.
In less hyperbolic terms, we need to become part of the public narrative.
The idea of removing and replacing Speaker Kevin McCarthy has to be elevated from the margins of our political discourse into the mainstream. One way for that to happen is for political opinion writers and broadcasters to focus less on the antics of the perpetrators of chaos, and more on the potential response of problem solvers.
An excellent example of this appeared in the Washington Post last Monday evening, August 14. It was an essay in the Washington Post by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Steven Pearlstein, titled "How Congress Can Shut Down The Bullies." (Yes, that’s a link you can click on to read the piece. No subscription required.)
Steven Pearlstein is a professor of public affairs at George Mason University whose observations and opinions are particularly well-informed. The content of his essay is especially noteworthy for our network, as it echoes last week's post on this site about the downgrading of America’s national credit rating:
"Fitch Ratings cited 20 years of repeated government shutdowns and debt ceiling showdowns that have eroded investor confidence in the ability of the federal government to … well, to govern."
But even as the Biden administration objected and was rebuking Fitch for its "out of date" assessment,
"...right-wing Republicans in the House renewed the threat of another shutdown unless Congress cuts even more spending than called for in the bipartisan debt ceiling and budget compromise passed only weeks before."
Mr. Pearlstein laments the reaction of colleagues and media commenters who blame these right-wing Republicans for causing yet another "crisis”, thus perpetuating the notion that nothing can be done about it. On the contrary, he explains:
"The real culprits aren’t the small band of crazies who have bullied their colleagues into acquiescence. It’s the cowed colleagues who, in a misguided effort to maintain the facade of party unity, have allowed themselves to be bullied. The list of enablers is long, but allow me to call out a dozen House Republicans who have the reputation, skill and political headroom to form the nucleus of a GOP 'governing caucus'."
What he suggests is that "reasonable, serious legislators" make what amounts to a pre-emptive strike, and simply refuse to vote for any appropriation bills that don’t follow the bipartisan budget bill passed last June. Combining their votes with those of moderate Democrats (essentially forming a temporary cross-party alliance), this "governing caucus" can "end the hostage-taking once and for all."
While this is not quite a call for removing and replacing Speaker Kevin McCarthy, it is the first step toward what we've been advocating here for several months. Indeed, Mr. Pearlstein makes a point of specifically challenging Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) as leaders who can make this bipartisan alliance a reality. Not coincidentally, they are three of the four members we named as potential replacements for Mr. McCarthy in our May 16 post If McCarthy's Out, Who's In?
The importance of Mr. Pearlstein's essay should not be under-estimated.
The timing of its publication was unfortunate since it corresponded with the announcement of Donald Trump’s Georgia indictment, which dominated the news cycle most of this week. Nevertheless, “How Congress Can Shut Down The Bullies” can be a significant contribution to our effort. The piece helps introduce the idea of forming a cross-party alliance into the national narrative. From there it’s an easy progression to a discussion about making a “motion to vacate the chair” and replacing the Speaker. We should do what we can to promote its widespread dissemination. here’s that link again:
“How Congress Can Shut Down The Bullies” (no subscription needed)
Contacting Media Personalities
It's always been part of our strategy to encourage print and broadcast journalists to initiate conversations about a cross-party alliance in the House of Representatives for the purpose of confronting MAGA. While we've lately placed more emphasis on directly persuading Representatives and party officials, it’s time now to add media personalities to our updated e-mail and phone contact list. We’ll be doing that in the coming days, and everyone is strongly encouraged to suggest names, phone numbers and email addresses to be included. You can use the comment section or send directly to JerryWeiss@substack.com.
With right-wing support for Donald Trump continuing despite his indictments, there's a growing realization among the pundit class that the extremist threat will not wither away by itself. It needs to be actively engaged and defeated. The question for them is how and where can this be most effectively undertaken, aside from the election 15 months away.
Fortunately, we have the answer. We just need to convey it to those who have print and broadcast spaces waiting to be filled with new ideas. What we are proposing — removal and replacement of a sitting Speaker — is rare, if not unprecedented. It will require a degree of political courage House Members aren’t normally expected to exercise.
By promoting conversation and discussion of this idea in as many forums as possible, it will increasingly come to be seen as practical and plausible.
Politicians are subject to multiple pressures from their constituents, their party leaders, their donors, their colleagues, even from their families and friends. All of these are consumers of media. They are attuned to public opinion and pay attention to what the columnists and talk show hosts are discussing. Once the majority of moderate Members realize they have support from ordinary sensible voters, their reluctance to reach across the aisle will diminish. Their willingness to take bolder steps will be increased.
Remember, we aren’t necessarily trying to convince media personalities that the proposal we’re advocating is the best solution (though it obviously is). We just want them to feature it as worthy of talking about. Let them bring on the guests, interview their favorite contributors, etc. We can be quietly confident that the merits of a bipartisan majority supporting a strong independent Speaker will become ever more evident the more often it’s considered.
Guidelines for contacting media personalities:
Be brief. The more words you use, the less likely they will be read.
Get right to the point. There's no need to explain the issue beyond what's necessary to identify it. At the same time, you should provide enough details about the proposal for it be taken seriously. Specifying potential candidates for Speaker is important and heightens interest.
Avoid hyperbole. Calling things outrageous, corrupt, disgusting, etc. sounds like an argument rather than a request.
Be courteous and grateful. It may be in the public interest, but still we are asking for the favor of their attention.
Identify yourself. Anonymous communications are usually discarded without being read. Provide your name and some identifying information like your city of residence or an email address.
To help expand our network and recruit more volunteers it may also be helpful to include something like "You can learn more at www.FeathersOfHope.net
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