Is the GOP getting ready to declare war on Joe Biden? The current political scheme, which resembles partisan warfare more than any sort of collaborative legislative effort, breeds a special incentive to hold the congressional majority. In the past, majority parties worked to pass their legislative agenda while minority parties worked to impede, or modify the majority’s agenda. Today, however, the majority works to destroy the minority while the minority holds on for dear life.
Accordingly, “Republicans are openly musing about their plans to aggressively investigate Biden’s administration, his family and everything else in between should they manage to win a congressional majority next month,” POLITICO reported.
Joe Biden’s Problem: The Weaponization of Congress
The groundwork for the weaponization of congress, the real watershed moment that seems to have fundamentally changed the way members of congress perceive their cross-aisle colleagues, is the Newt Gingrich-led congress of the 1990s.
Gingrich, who served as Speaker of the House during the Clinton administration, “turned partisan battles into bloodsport, wrecked Congress, and paved the way for Trump’s rise,” McKay Coppins wrote in an article titled “The Man Who Broke Politics.”
The New Republic continued: “Donald Trump is widely and correctly criticized for assaulting democratic norms. But Trump didn’t cause the problem. The erosion of democratic norms began decades ago.” This erosion began under Newt Gingrich. “Backed by a small but growing group of loyalists, Gingrich launched an insurgency aimed at instilling a more ‘combative’ approach in the party. Taking advantage of a new media technology, C-SPAN, Gingrich used hateful language, deliberately employing over-the-top rhetoric … He questioned his Democratic rivals’ patriotism. He even compared them to Mussolini and accused them of trying to destroy the country.”
Sound familiar? Gingrichian rhetoric has become ubiquitous in American politics; everyone from Trump to AOC speaks – and tweets – like Gingrich on a daily basis. But it’s not just rhetoric. It’s a mindset and the action that stems from that mindset. Today, a Democratic majority has burned through a remarkable amount of time and money, while neglecting other pressing agenda items, to investigate, impeach, and generally mire Donald Trump.
Republicans Eye Midterm Takeback, and Turnaround
Now, Republicans are salivating at the opportunity to regain the majority in the upcoming midterms. And their agenda, which at another point in U.S. history likely would have been dominated by items designed to improve American prosperity or security, is now dominated by vindictive, petulant items more likely to terrorize Democrats than accomplish anything of substance.
Granted, Democrats have it coming – after Russiagate, the January 6th commission, the Mar-a-Lago raid, and several investigations into The Trump Organization. The Democrats undertook these investigations and impeachments under the guise of defending democracy from Trump and his cronies – but most of the Democrat’s actions against Trump could be attributed to familiar Gingrichian, partisan combativeness. So, don’t feel too bad for the Democrats if Republicans regain the majority and turn the investigative powers of the U.S. congress one hundred eighty degrees, across the aisle. Feel bad for the American public whose legislative body has devolved into a parody of Mean Girls.
According to POLITICO, here is the Republican’s “punch list:”
First, “a microscopic look into the business dealings of Hunter Biden.” Because that’s what America needs right now. Well, it is purely reciprocal – Democrats have spent years digging into the business dealings of Trump’s children. Second, a “multi-prong investigation into Biden’s border policy, which could morph into an impeachment of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.” Biden, who has resumed building Trump’s Border Wall, has employed a border policy not unlike Trump’s own, so a multi-pronged investigation doesn’t seem quite necessary here. Third, “a probe of the coronavirus’ origins, with a focus on Anthony Fauci’s role in approving controversial research programs.”
Now, the origin of the coronavirus is something we would do well to understand and document. Another pandemic is inevitable – and understanding where the last one came from has high value for future preventative efforts. And if that query leads to the understanding that someone, say Fauci, approved research programs that he shouldn’t have then so be it. But initiating a response for the purpose of “getting” Fauci is a concerning precedent for investigating a non-partisan member of the scientific community. Fourth, “a multi-committee dive into the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.” I can see the value in understanding what went wrong and why – but I suspect the primary motive is incriminating Biden. Also, we have sure spent a lot of time, energy, and money on Afghanistan without much yield. Maybe it’s time to move on. Lastly, fifth, “a sweeping dig into the Justice Department and FBI, led by potential House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).” Okay.
Regardless of whether the GOP’s investigative agenda against Biden has merit – which much of it does not – each minute and dollar spent to better understand Hunter Biden’s business dealings is a minute and dollar not spent on antitrust, biosecurity, or jobs building. Eventually, one of the major parties is going to need to be “the bigger person.” The problems – the real problems – our country (and world) face require urgent, earnest attention.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.