On January 3rd when the new Congress is sworn in, there will be 201 Democrats and 234 Republicans. If John Boehner is re-elected Speaker, he will likely continue to run the House according to the Hastert Rule. (See NYT series of postings, Debt Reckoning, see the posting at Dec 12 at 12:32pm.) The Hastert Rule means that the Republican Speaker will not bring to a vote any bill unless it has the support of a majority of Republicans.
Half of the 234 Republicans is 117, so the 117 most conservative members of the House, only 27% of the total House membership, can stop any compromise legislation that has been negotiated with the Senate and the White House. That’s why Boehner has such a hard time compromising with President Obama.
I now have four videos posted online with more to come. These use commentary and graphics to describe how John Boehner can be defeated and a more moderate Speaker elected.
Video #1: Introduction to idea of a compromise Speaker
Video #2: How moderate Republicans could be convinced to form a coalition
Video #3: Explains the problem with the current power structure in the House
Video #4: A comedic approach to explaining the issues.
This is the original opinion piece I wrote on this topic back in early November. I was trying to get it published in a major newspaper or on a major web site, but to no avail. So you can read it here instead….
As the post-election talk of bipartisan compromise rapidly degenerates into the usual intractable positions, Washington is assuming that the House leadership will remain unchanged. John Boehner may have enough Republican support to remain the Speaker under nominal circumstances, but there may be another possibility.
I wrote a few days ago about how the Democrats in the House, with help from President Obama, could convince 20 or so Republicans to join them in a ruling coalition. Today I found a perfect example of how this would work. In fact, the exact thing happened just the other day in a little town called Albany.
When the Ottoman Empire finally collapsed at the end of World War II, Britain carved up the empire into nation-sized chunks. One of those was named “Iraq.” Iraq contained three major populations: Shiite Muslim Arab, Sunni Muslim Arab, and Kurdish. (The Kurds are an ethnic group; most of them are Muslim.) The Kurds actually exist in several different countries and the issue of why an ethnicity of 30 million people does not have its own country will be the subject of a later article.
In 2011 after years of civil war, the nation of Sudan was divided into Sudan and South Sudan. The predominantly Arab Muslim population of northern Sudan had long oppressed the Christian and animist southern Sudanese. After long years, the international community finally accepted the proposition that it would be better for the southerners to be independent. Now, though border disputes continue and may flare into a border war over a small disputed territory, the region is more peaceful than it has been for years.
But the division of Sudan took 50 years of civil war (with a ten year break) to bring the international community to the conclusion that partition was the answer. Two million people died and four million were displaced. When the vote on separation was finally taken in a UN-supervised plebiscite in 2011, southern Sudanese from around the world were allowed to vote because of the size of the refugee diaspora. In a world where the international community stubbornly resists partition of nations, Sudan is the exception that proves how strong the rule is.