House Hunters: GOP Shops for New Leader

Barb Wire

If you thought the 2016 elections were heating up, you should see the House Speaker’s race! In the frenzy since John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) resignation, the back and forth over who will succeed him has seemed more like a daytime drama with the main characters constantly changing. This week, the saga over the most-watched seat on Capitol Hill took another twist now that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) is seriously considering the job many are drafting him for.

Last night, speaking to a closed door session of the House Republican Conference, the Wisconsin candidate for 2012 Vice President said his only condition would be broad consensus and unity on the pick. And while many are lining up to support Ryan, who many consider one of the most respected members of the House, some urge their colleagues to consider more than just unity. Speaking of the GOP meeting, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said, “All we were really talking about is how to have great unity within the GOP party.” Others, like Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) cautioned that as well-liked as Mitt Romney’s former running mate is, members have a lot of thinking to do. “It’s not a given,” echoed Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.).

For conservatives, who have a legitimate shot at taking back the White House next year, the moment is a critical one. Finally, members have an opportunity to make House leadership reflective of the new conservative majority that’s been steadily growing since 2010. After three election cycles that has given us one of — if not the most — ideologically conservative Houses in the history of Congress, voters who are becoming increasing frustrated with how the GOP has played political patty-cake with President Obama. Obviously, the predominately conservative ideology of the new members sent to Washington by voters in the last five years hasn’t been reflected in the GOP leadership. Instead, we’ve seen new wine put into old wine skins! What the GOP-controlled House needs is someone who reflects the conservative orientation of the voters who put them there. Someone who will work with conservative members so that they can work through the promises that got them elected. Someone who won’t stifle — but advance and amend — legislation.

One of the themes we continue to hear from Republicans is the desire to work as a team again. But you don’t build esprit de corps by cutting people off at the knees if they challenge the status quo or try to have a voice in Congress’s direction. Unfortunately, that’s been the history of the modern GOP. As much as Republicans say they need a unifier, they also need a person who won’t sacrifice the truth for the sake of that unity. Whether it’s Paul Ryan, Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) or someone else, the reality is this: conservatives need a leader who will point Congress in the right direction. That should be priority number one.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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