Congress Needs Uber-Level Innovation
By Senator Mike Lee
At first, I didn’t have strong feelings about the House Speaker’s race. I thought initial front-runner Kevin McCarthy might do a good job. I feel the same about other potential speakers, including Paul Ryan, Daniel Webster, and my good friend Jason Chaffetz.
More than anything, though, it seemed that what mattered was not who the next speaker is but what the next speaker does. I shared my thoughts with the handful of House colleagues who asked for them, but, as a senator, I didn’t feel it was my place to broadcast them.
Then over the last few weeks, we saw the Republican establishment’s overheated reaction to McCarthy’s surprise withdrawal from the race. Then suddenly, over the weekend, many more people started asking my opinions about the race after a New York Times columnist nominated yours truly for the job.
I have no interest in that job, of course. But given this strange new environment, I thought it might now be appropriate for me to suggest a few lessons conservative reformers can take from the events of the last few weeks, for whatever they are worth.
If you strip away the political and media attention from McCarthy’s withdrawal, and the ensuing Washington freak-out, all that really happened last week was this: a sure-thing continuation of a tight-knit community’s happy status-quo was upended without notice or comforting contingency. Nobody knew what had happened, or why, or whom to blame, or how to move forward, or what sudden dislocation might come next.
In other words, the Republican establishment got a passing glimpse of what it’s like to be a working family in America today.
Washington Republicans would do well to imagine what jarring days like last Thursday are like for people who don’t work in the wealthiest metropolitan area in the country, who cannot expect to rebound from a job loss by doubling their income on K Street. In that context, should we really be surprised that legislative accomplishments like the permanent “doc fix” or Trade Promotion Authority (however laudable they may be) have done little to strengthen our party’s brand this year?
It seems to me that Republicans in Washington—speaker candidates or not, conservatives and moderates—need to think about what kind of policy reforms might more directly empower struggling families to survive and thrive amid uncertainties of their own. From this overdue examination might come more fruitful internal debates and a more appealing reform agenda.
I also invite you to share your thoughts on this topic and anything else you want to discuss in my upcoming tele-townhall, which I will be holding on Wednesday, October 21 at 5:45 p.m. MT.
Text the information above or click here to sign up for the event