John Boehner is on a rampage against Republicans who dare defy him. Sounds more like what I’d expect from Nancy Pelosi if not Vladimir Putin.
While most of the retaliation has been in the form of removing uncooperative Republican House members from particular committee assignments or chairmanships or the whip team, the latest rumor is that Boehner is trying to orchestrate the removal of Colorado Representative Ken Buck as president of the House’s freshman class.
(Full disclosure: I supported Ken in his run for Congress although I’ve been critical of him in the past. I think he’s one of the good guys even though we disagree from time to time.)
Ken Buck is a former county district attorney and a graduate of Princeton (which I do hold against him a bit).
I do not know whether there is any validity to claims by Boehner’s pawns in the freshman classs that Rep. Buck’s leadership of the 2014 class has been inadequate.
But the timing of this rumor stinks of retaliation. And Ken Buck thinks so too, saying “I voted against ObamaTrade. Now they’re trying to impeach me as class president. Sure smells like retaliation.”
I realize there is value in party discipline, but representatives are there to represent. As Ken puts it, “We can’t just be giving in to the President’s agenda left and right and ignoring the will of our constituents.” I agree: if residents of Colorado’s 4th congressional district don’t like Ken’s vote against giving President Obama fast-track trade authority, they can make a change in two years. In the meantime — and even though I would have voted the other way — there’s a line between party discipline and turning the party into a dictatorship.
The Republican Party is, despite media caricatures, the party of ideas. It should not and must not be the party of lockstep groupthink.
Again, maybe Ken isn’t the best leader of the freshman class. I have no way to know. But if this really is about that rather than about retaliation, those who think the class should have a different leader would do well to (A) wait a month, and (B) state both publicly and privately that members of the class should feel no pressure to vote in a particular way. And of course, the vote should be secret. Then, members of the Class of 2014 should do a little soul-searching of their own, asking themselves whether caving in to John Boehner is really why they ran for office.