By Lauren Grimaldi
Last month, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) informed Congress that he will be resigning from his position at the end of October. While the speaker’s resignation does not come as a shock to those who follow American politics closely, there is no doubt that it signals deep discrepancies among the members of the Republican Party.
Boehner’s decision to resign came during a tense time amongst members of the GOP over funding Planned Parenthood. Boehner was in favor of compromising on the issue as he wanted to avoid a shutdown at all costs.
While he is a strong conservative, he is also willing to compromise on issues that his fellow Republicans are not. This made a several members of the GOP lose faith in him as a leader and led to problems within the party as a whole.
His resignation is not the first in recent history by a Republican Speaker of the House either. In fact, the two prior to Boehner were also forced to resign once tensions in the party became overwrought. Dennis Hassert, who is currently under criminal investigation, was Speaker prior to Boehner after being involved in a number of scandals. Before Hassert, Newt Gingrich resigned after losing support from his party as well.
These resignations and the general inability of Republicans to compromise with each other, signal disparities within the party that could be troublesome. In general during President Obama’s tenure, the level of conservatism among the Republican Party has risen. What makes matters worse for the well-being of the party is that the difference between more moderate Republicans and those that are stauncher in their conservatism has become unmanageable.
Of course, the levels of liberalism fluctuate within the Democratic Party as well but the differences between Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton are much less drastic than the differences between Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum.
As the Republicans struggle to find a candidate that could beat the eventual Democratic nominee in a national election (Sorry, Donald), it does not help that there is some obvious in-fighting in the party.
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was heavily favored as John Boehner’s replacement for the Speaker position, but he withdrew his candidacy shortly after a gaffe regarding comments on the Benghazi committee. He is a much stronger conservative than Boehner and well liked among his fellow congressional officials, but as past precedent shows, it is not going to be easy for whoever becomes the replacement.
If the GOP really want to have a party that is less polarizing both inside and out, then they need to unite as a whole instead of creating a hostile environment for the few members of their party that can compromise on the important issues.