A gang of gremlins in a still from the 1984 movie

Speaker Candidates Multiply Like Gremlins as Horror Show in Congress Continues

Anyone else having trouble keeping track of the ever-growing field of Republican candidates for Speaker of the House? Well, the main thing you need to know is simple: They are all terrible.

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After Rep. Jim Jordan, a Trump loyalist who has never passed a bill, flamed out spectacularly at the end of last week, it was anyone’s guess who the party might turn to next, or who would even want the job of corralling this chaotic caucus. Over the weekend, though, power-hungry lawmakers started pouring out of the Capitol’s woodwork, seemingly multiplying before our eyes. You can see why I’m reminded of the multiplying agents of chaos and destruction in Gremlins, a movie that gave me nightmares as a kid.

By Monday, nine more Republican Congressmen (yes, all men, mostly white) had declared their interest in being in charge of this mess: Tom Emmer, Jack Bergman, Byron Donalds, Kevin Hern, Mike Johnson, Pete Sessions, Dan Meuser, Austin Scott, and Gary Palmer.

Gary who? Come on, now. We don’t even know who some of these people are.

Republicans in Congress planned to meet in closed session to debate the candidates on Monday evening and then to start voting on a new speaker on Tuesday.

Although some in the media have referred to this new crop as more moderate, it doesn’t take much to be considered a “moderate” in today’s GOP. Seven out of the nine candidates voted to throw out the legal and confirmed results of the 2020 election. So did Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted from the speaker position earlier this fall, and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, another failed candidate. To be fair, though, it’s hard to find a Republican in the halls of Congress who meets the extremely low bar of upholding the Constitution.

Emmer, the majority whip and maybe frontrunner, and Scott, some other guy who’s running, are the only two of the nine who carried out their duties of certifying the election results. But even they did their best to undermine democracy. Both were among the 126 House members who signed on to an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to throw out several states’ results for completely made-up reasons. And not one of these so-called moderates voted to impeach Trump when he incited violence or supported the establishment of the House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack.

No surprise, they’re all extreme in the usual ways too. They oppose basic life-saving policies on gun control, healthcare, and birth control access, just to name a few examples. Emmer has tried to paint himself as the reasonable choice but has referred to Democrats’ efforts to codify Roe v. Wade as “the Chinese genocide bill.“ He has falsely accused Democrats of supporting abortion “right up to the day a child is born, and the day after in some cases.”

The options don’t seem likely to get much better than this, though. United only in their opposition to finding any solution to any problem, including this one, House Republicans seem destined to cycle through every possible person for the role. It won’t be long until Rep. George Santos, known for fabricating most of his resume and currently indicted for fraud, just stands up and declares he won a speaker vote that never happened. And Congress will just go along with it because they’re tired.

Has anyone tried opening a window or skylight in the Capitol yet? Hey, it works against gremlins and vampires, so it might be worth a try.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)


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Author
Erika Wittekind
Erika Wittekind (she/her) is a contributing writer covering politics and news and has two decades of experience in local news reporting, freelance writing, and nonfiction editing. Her hobbies and special interests include hiking, dancing in the kitchen, trying to raise empathetic teen boys, and keeping plants alive. Find her on Mastodon at @erikalyn.newsie.social.