On the one hand, what we’re witnessing with the election of the Speaker of the House is extraordinary. It hasn’t happened like this in over 100-years. On the other hand, political impasses themselves are not extraordinary. They happen when people divide without enough power to force their way on others. One solution is to keep at until you wear down the other side. Another, better approach is to find a third way that all can live with.
If there’s going to be sunshine after this awful storm in Congress, it may involve members of each party coming together to form a new, third, more moderate caucus.
If, for example, there were 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats in the house and 20 of the Republicans were blocking a new speaker, the vote would be 202 – 213 – 20, with no one getting the required 218 majority.
The Republicans could keep pounding away at their 20 blockers. Or the most moderate 125 Republicans and moderate 125 Democrats could get together, agree ways of working in their new bi-partisan caucus, pick a Speaker acceptable to all and break the impasse with their 250 votes.
The obvious near-term advantage of this would be to allow Congress to get on with the business of governing.
Hopefully a more enduring advantage would be for these moderate members of Congress to establish a new forum and new way to discuss their differences on controversial issues and find third ways that work for all.
Wouldn’t that be a nice example for others to follow?