Andy Biggs and The Revenge of the RINOs
Biggs' attempt to deprive McCarthy of the speakership is obtuse regarding the lesson of the 2022 election.
If a movie were to be made about the 2022 election, it could be called The Revenge of the RINOs.
Across the country, and particularly in Arizona, Trumpian candidates lost in significant part because a critical mass of Republican-leaning voters couldn’t stomach them. In other words, RINOs – Republicans in Name Only – done them in.
For those who believe in karma, this suggests a touch of political justice imposed by the universe. For others, consider it chickens coming home to roost.
The political idiocy of the war by MAGA Republicans on so-called RINOs was always self-evident. If there are voters who lean your way but aren’t fully committed, you court them – send them flowers, remember their birthdays, inquire about their families.
Instead, the MAGA Republicans denounced, cursed, and spat on them, giving them the boot and telling them not to let the door hit them on the rump on the way out.
The clear lesson of the 2022 election is the political limitation of Trumpism and the MAGA movement. In swing states and districts, it can’t win elections on its own. The balance of power is held by RINOs and true independents. A Republican Party with a future will have to stop alienating and repulsing them.
Which brings us to Andy Biggs’ effort to deny the House speakership to Kevin McCarthy. Biggs ran against McCarthy to be the party’s nominee for speaker. He got trounced, 188 to 31. Now, Biggs is saying that, despite getting routed, he won’t vote for McCarthy for speaker. If just a handful of other kamikaze Republicans join him, McCarthy could end up without the votes for the job.
What happens then is unclear. But the least likely outcome is that Biggs or someone like him gets the post instead.
This isn’t a brief for McCarthy’s leadership. He reminds me of Winston Churchill’s description of a colleague as the Boneless Wonder. McCarthy seems to view the speakership as like being crowned Homecoming King, a validation of his popularity more than anything else.
Interestingly, he is sort of a Republican analogue to Joe Biden. Biden has always drifted toward whatever was the Democratic consensus on any policy or political matter. McCarthy has done the same thing toward the Republican consensus. Unlike the last GOP speaker, Paul Ryan, he doesn’t seem to have strong convictions of his own.
Nevertheless, he’s the choice of an overwhelming majority of his caucus. And arguably, that’s what meets the moment as well.
The GOP majority in the House will be razor-thin. The Democrats still control the Senate and the presidency.
Despite this, Biggs advocates using the leverage of “must-pass” legislation to take it to the Democrats. That’s a recipe for a government shutdown.
It’s also not learning the lesson of the 2022 election. Part of the reason RINOs and independents couldn’t stomach the Trumpian candidates was their excessively confrontational style.
Republicans have a mandate to stop the attempt by the Biden administration and congressional Democrats to remake the political economy of the United States into a European-style social democracy. But they have no mandate to hold budget and defense authorization bills hostage to Republican priorities or to make the Democrats cry uncle on something already enacted, as some GOP kamikazes attempted with Obamacare.
The descent of Biggs in Washington has been disappointing and discouraging. He was a very successful and constructive principled conservative as a state legislator. But he got lost in Trump’s miasma. Unforgivably, it culminated in Biggs supporting the motion to reject Arizona’s 2020 electoral college votes.
Biggs’ full-body immersion into Trumpism didn’t hurt him in his re-election effort. A ballyhooed challenge from a Republican turned independent was a bust. The independent got less than 6% of the vote. Biggs won with a comfortable 57% of the vote against the independent and a nominal Democratic opponent.
But you have to be awfully obtuse not to see what else was happening in the 2022 election, particularly here in Arizona. Or to think that doubling down on what voters rejected is what House Republicans should now do.
Reach Robb at firstname.lastname@example.org.