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George W. Bush should help to shape the Republican agenda

Last week’s U.S. House speaker selection process demonstrated how much the Republican Party has changed, and how much they face divisions.

Kevin McCarthy was clearly the logical choice for the job. He rose through the ranks of Republicans and represents a conservative enclave in California, which might be the bluest of the blue states.

He faced an obstacle from about 20 far right conservative members of his caucus. For some reason they wanted to change things. They were willing to be renegades in order to put forth their agenda.

In many ways it was a civilized version of the Jan. 6, 2021 riot. It was a diplomatic effort by a small minority to exert influence.

McCarthy might have to renege on some of his promises if some other members of the caucus don’t support what the ultra-conservatives want.

What exactly do they think they could do about it?

They can either stay in step with their party or they could disrupt the governing process in ways that wouldn’t help anybody.

The far right group of House members even defied former President Trump. In doing so they most likely threw at least a minor wrench in his effort to regain the Presidency.

How should the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt respond to their situation?

How should they try to turn a bad start into s successful legislative session?

A good place to start would be to get back to the party’s roots. They have a two-term President in Goerge W. Bush, someone who has nothing personal to gain except for the chance to help his party. In addition, he has the advantage of being a likeable person, something that former President Trump lacks.

I have conservative friends who voted for Trump twice who have told me in all honesty that they don’t like him as a person. He comes across as arrogant, self centered and judgmental.

There’s a need for at least one other person to be in the spotlight. Bush could facilitate that as a true elder statesman of the party, a true continuation of the Reagan and George H.W. Bush tradition.

It’s an uncertain time in Washington D.C. with a divided Congress. There will be a need for some type of bipartisanship to accomplish anything. It will take cooperation.

The two-party system is being tested. It’s important that neither party breaks off into factions in a way that would make it hard to have a working majority.

The balance between the legislative, executive and judicial branches needs to be maintained. It appears that the Supreme Court is likely to exert influence by rolling back some of the reforms that took shape in the past 60 years.

If Congress became hopelessly divided it would shift even more power to the President and the Supreme Court. Power would be concentrated among a much smaller group of leaders.

It depends largely on whether members of Congress can compromise, whether they can set aside parts of their personal agendas for the good of the country and for the governing process.

That’s would it takes to succeed in a democratic system. There have been many examples of success over the past 234 years. We can learn by looking back to those successes.

The stakes are high in 2023. We face nationalism in many parts of the world, economic globalism, and social and religious fundamentalism. We can’t take freedom for granted.

The best course of action is to build on what’s worked in the past 50 to 60 years. A good place to start is to have involvement from all of our former Presidents (Carter, Clinton, Bush, Obama and to a certain extent even Trump).

I have confidence that the leaders of 2023 can rise to the occasion. Last week’s historic House Speaker issue made me wonder for a day or two, but in the end a solution emerged.

Two years will go by very quickly. House and Senate members have a limited time to fulfill their duties to the American public. If we have a long series of unproductive legislative situations, there’s bound to be a demand for some type of change in 2024.

— Jim Muchlinski is a longtime reporter and contributor to the Marshall Independent

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