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Jan 10, 2023

Early in the Broadway smash, “Hamilton,” the title character meets his nemesis, Aaron Burr. The polished and savvy politician advises young Alexander to “talk less, smile more, don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.” Republicans in the U.S. House seem to be trying to follow the Burr plan, with the obvious exception of the “talk less” part. 

Last week, the American public witnessed a governmental process it hasn’t seen in 100 years: multiple elections for the Speaker of the House. During that century, the selection had routinely become an inside job. The majority party would work it out in private first and then come to the chamber and hold the ceremonial vote for the citizenry to witness. It had become such a snoozer, that most of America paid no attention at all.

Not this year. Not with this Congress. Not with this party.  

The fight within the House Republican Caucus all comes down to a matter of trust. Some of the staunchest opponents of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ascension consistently claimed their lack of trust in him was the issue. What took a backseat in this process, however, was the public trust. Reeling from things like the two-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, ongoing election denialism and conspiracy theorizing, this caucus already was weak in this category. The events of the last week all but obliterated what little trust remained. 

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