Congressional Republicans’ demoralizing start to 2023

Happy New Year. We had a great New Year’s weekend. Callista and I took our children and grandchildren to Key Biscayne, Florida for New Year’s Eve. I saw the University of Georgia’s amazing win over Ohio State (winning the fourth quarter 18-3 to earn a one-point win in the final 54 seconds). Then I watched with great happiness as Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers proved the pack was back with a stunning 41-17 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Then I turned to the sad, frustrating, and troubling matter of reflecting on the Republican Party, the conservative movement, and the challenges we face.

I am writing this after the House went on hiatus after three failed attempts to choose a speaker. This is a far cry from the record for speaker frustration. In 1923, nine ballots were required. In 1855, it took 133 ballots and two months to choose a speaker. (The parties broke up under the pressure of slavery and anti-slavery bitterness, ultimately leading to civil war). In the age of television, however, frustration and pressure build up faster. There is no easy answer to the current catastrophe. By a little over 10 to 1, 202 GOP members of the House of Representatives stayed with Kevin McCarthy in three ballots while only 20 voted against him.

In a normal, sane political party, you would think that a 10-to-1 margin would be definitive.

For the 20 deranged disruptors who cause pain to their own party, however, chaos seems like a fun pastime. It’s a bit like watching someone burn down their own house so they can enjoy the fire. You wonder if any of these adamant members answered—or even thought about it—the question, “And then?”

House Republicans
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 4: U.S. Rep.-elect Matt Gaetz (R-FL) (R) speaks with Rep.-elect Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep.-elect Andrew Clyde (R-GA) ( L) in the House of Representatives chamber on the second day of the House Speaker elections at the US Capitol Building on January 4, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives meets to vote for the next speaker after Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to get more than 218 votes in three separate ballots Tuesday, the first time in 100 years the speaker was not elected first ballot.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Hakeem Jeffries, leader of the minority in the Democratic House of Representatives, and his extraordinarily effective predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, happily watch as the Republicans melt together like a group of weary toddlers in front of the entire country (this will undoubtedly be the most-watched speaker choice in history).

While House Republicans appear to be mired in power struggles, Senate Republicans appear increasingly divided between a traditional Republican majority and a Republican-Biden minority. Key legislation (which required about a fifth to a third of Senate Republicans working with Democrats to pass) was particularly painful. The conservative movement and the majority of Republican voters, activists and donors opposed these bills. The reality of Biden’s Republican Senate wing becomes apparent when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Joe Biden meet in Kentucky to celebrate the $1.63 billion Ohio River Bridge, which will be completed in… included in the nearly $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

Nothing irritates and angers conservatives and traditional Republicans more than watching their elected officials attend a bipartisan media event to celebrate spending tens of billions of tax dollars on politically-driven infrastructure.

With the House of Representatives seemingly mired in crisis and the Senate appearing to be developing with a new Biden-Republican swing group, the average Republican is forced to ponder the prospect of the most contentious race for the presidential nomination since Barry’s bitterness Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller in 1964. This race split the party and led to disaster (only 32 seats in the GOP Senate and only 140 seats in the House of Representatives). The potential for a bitter nomination process between Donald Trump and Never-Trump is real. The possibility that President Trump would run as a third-party candidate if he loses the nomination is incredibly real.

So there are plenty of good reasons for rational Republicans and thoughtful Conservatives to start 2023 with concern. Much needs to be clarified if we are to save the country from the catastrophes of big government socialism and wokeism.

Of course, if I worry too much, I can get my focus back on the college championship game and the Packers’ potential to triumph in the playoffs.

For more comments from Newt Gingrich, visit

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own. Congressional Republicans’ demoralizing start to 2023

Rick Schindler

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