Speaker of the House John Boehner, in an unexpected and uncommon move, announced he would resign from his Speakership, effective at the end of October. Boehner, 65, spent the last 24 years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and spent the last four as the Speaker of the House.
Boehner joyfully sang “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” as he approached the podium and there’s no doubt that some of his Republican colleagues thought the same thing when he announced he’d be resigning. His resignation comes on the heels of him not supporting a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood, but the turmoil between Boehner and Republican extremists has been brewing for a few years now.
Over the course of his Speakership, Boehner has been reduced to the role of a parent trying to manage his kid’s temper tantrum at the toy store. Where a kid might cry about not getting a giant dollhouse or the latest gaming console, Boehner’s Republican colleagues threw a tantrum when Boehner would not give into their desires to not fund the Department of Homeland Security or shutdown the government over Planned Parenthood.
In an interview with Face the Nation, Boehner called some of his colleagues “false prophets” and expressed discontent over Republicans promoting proposals that they themselves knew would never happen. That’s the divide that ultimately forced him out: ideology versus practicality.
While his colleagues wanted to push a far-right agenda, no matter how impractical, Boehner was more concerned about building consensus and trying to come up with a bill both parties could swallow.
I cannot offer you that last sentence in good faith, as Boehner presided over two of the most unproductive, tumultuous sessions of Congress in recent history. He filed a lawsuit against the president in 2014. He’s not shy to skewering Democrats on occasion. Yet, this same John Boehner has been heralded as a great consensus-builder by almost all of his colleagues since his resignation.
This is the state of politics in America. Boehner, whose views are on the far-right side of the political spectrum, is called a centrist and is not conservative enough according to some of his colleagues. The ideological fringes of a few decades ago are now considered centrist.
Senator Ted Cruz and other “false prophets” may have extreme views that play well at small Republican voter’s summits, but their proposals are unrealistic and push the Republican party further away from the general American voter. We’ve seen this during the past few Republican primary cycles; candidates will position themselves on the far-right during the primary only to scurry back to the middle during the general election.
Boehner may be leaving, but his hostile Republican colleagues will still be there. Ultimately, whoever replaces Boehner as Speaker will face the same exact issues he did. It’s hard to believe Boehner when he says he is leaving for the good of the institution because seemingly nothing will change after his resignation.
Both Republicans and Democrats alike will shed a signature ‘Boehner tear’ as he moves onto retirement. For Republicans, I agree with Congressman Peter King when he said Bohner’s resignation symbolizes the “crazies” taking over the party. For Democrats, they will lose their infrequent ally and will have to deal with someone even more hard-line than Boehner.
Let’s face it: Boehner left because his job became impossible. Every political decision became a balance of pushing his party further to the right – and getting nothing done – or be ripped by his colleagues for not being conservative enough.
Regardless, Boehner spent nearly 30 years in public office and that in and of itself should be celebrated.