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Sunday, July 14, 2024 - 03:30 PM


First Published in 1994


Amid the post-mortems of the four-day, 15-vote marathon to elect Kevin McCarthy House speaker, I remind readers of the headline of my Nov. 30 column, "Kevin McCarthy, a Republican Leader for Complex Times."

I thought then that that captured our reality, and I think the process that followed confirmed it.

It is human nature to want things neat and clear. But life never cooperates.

Which is why freedom is so important. And why we need a speaker who can keep focus and move the ship forward despite heavy gale winds blowing in many different directions.

McCarthy emerges from the ordeal with plenty of criticism.

And the House Freedom Caucus cabal, some 20 strong, that held McCarthy along with 201 of their Republican colleagues captive also emerges with plenty of criticism.

McCarthy is accused of conceding too much because, per his critics, it's all about personal ambition.

Regarding the obstructionists, they're accused of exploiting unique circumstances to gain personal power and attention.

In my column, I noted that polling shows that indeed Democrats are more unified than Republicans.

But I don't see Democrat woke uniformity as any strength. Democrats' cookie-cutter mentality regarding human reality is why they love big government so much.

But freedom is so important because there is no cookie cutter for human reality.

In November 2016, newly elected Vice President Mike Pence attended a showing in New York of the hit play "Hamilton."

When he entered the theater with his daughters, finding their way to their seats, they were met with boos.

At the end of the play, a spokesman for the cast directed critical remarks toward Pence.

When asked about the incident, Pence said he was not offended. He said, "I nudged my kids and reminded them, that's what freedom sounds like."

In May 1856, as Congress debated the future of slavery in America, South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks entered the Senate Chamber and accosted abolitionist Sen. Charles Sumner with his cane, beating him until he was unconscious.

So regarding chaos and absence of civility, the U.S. Congress has seen days much worse than what we have just been through.

Having built my own organization and worked with many others, my rule of thumb is that good people will accomplish things and get things done despite a poorly designed organization. And bad people will cause damage even in the most perfectly designed organization.

Organization charts and job descriptions matter.

But what matters most is individual character.

Certainly, the rules how the House operates and the job description of the speaker are of great importance.

But of greatest importance are courageous leaders who are committed to the principles of a free nation under God.

Leaders, for instance, who have the courage to take on our broken entitlement programs that suck up to 80% of our $6 trillion federal budget. These bankrupt programs, going back to 1936, don't need to be tweaked but reinvented.

Every young American now entering the workforce is paying Social Security payroll taxes into a bankrupt system that will not be able to pay them their benefits.

The answer is not raising taxes or the retirement age. The answer is a new system based on real ownership and investment.

But taking on Social Security and other entitlements requires real courage and commitment to principles. Do these Republicans have the courage to lead where Americans need leadership?

Polls show the American people are not happy with how things are going. This is a good sign.

The Republican oppositionists should be given benefit of the doubt that their obstructionism was rooted in genuine concern about principles and ideals.

And Kevin McCarthy should be given benefit of the doubt that he is indeed a Republican leader for complex times who knows he can't win every battle but has wisdom to know which to fight.