Following the defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor in a primary election earlier this month, the inside-the-beltway chatter was all about who would succeed him as House majority leader.
But I wonder if the conversation should really be about who should replace House Speaker John Boehner – and when.
Boehner has hinted he might be moving on next year. But that was before Cantor shockingly lost his bid for re-election in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. Cantor had been widely viewed as the successor to Boehner among establishment Republicans.
But will Boehner willingly step down next year? Imagine that the Republicans do as well as everyone expects them to do in November. Boehner will be basking in the glow of one of the biggest midterm election victories in modern history. Do you really expect him to step down in what he believes is his “finest hour”? It’s not going to happen.
The truth is that Republicans will win big in spite of Boehner and the Republican leadership of the House and Senate. But it will make it harder to get rid of Boehner no matter what he suggests today.
That’s why he needs to be dumped now.
I know no one is going to listen to me on this point. But I’ll say it anyway.
If Boehner were replaced now, before the election, with a fiery leader who could articulate an alternative vision for America, Republicans would win a historic landslide sweep in November.
The conventional wisdom says you don’t change horses midstream in a midterm election year. Don’t rock the boat, the experts say. Nonsense.
Republicans will do very well this year, not because of anything Boehner and Republican leadership has done or will do. It will be in spite of them. This is an anti-Barack Obama year. This is an anti-Democratic year. The only thing that can improve the picture for Republicans is to throw gasoline on the fire that is raging by taking on Obama and the Democrats with an imaginative and forceful program of holding them accountable.
The one big fear for Republican-leaning voters is that Republicans will take their victory and squander it – continuing to enable Obama and the Democrats to run roughshod over the best interests of the country.
In fact, I believe that is exactly what Boehner will continue to do if he remains House speaker – even with a bigger majority. There’s no reason to believe otherwise. That’s what most Republicans believe will happen as well. Voting Republican is more of a defensive measure for them than an offensive one. They don’t really expect Republicans to make things better. They just hope they will discourage more destruction.
Imagine if Americans heard a bold new vision for America from a new House speaker. Remember Newt Gingrich in 1994? Like it or not, he laid out a positive plan for what Republicans would do if they were elected. Lo and behold, America responded.
John Boehner is incapable of that. He’s not going to do it. So why would we keep him around in an important midterm election year when even he hints about stepping down next year?
The time to dump Boehner is right now. The new speaker can’t be anyone associated with the old leadership. Republicans need a new vision – one they can share positively with the American people. That would be worth far more than the “experience” Boehner brings to the table as speaker. It would be worth much more than whatever “continuity” he brings.
In short, Boehner is a liability this midterm election year. That’s why he should be dispatched now.
Mark my words: If he doesn’t go this year, he won’t go so willingly next year.
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