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Republican dysfunction is the path toward a better GOP

House Chamber
Greg Nash
The House Chamber is pictured as members vote for Speaker during the first day of the 118th session of Congress on Jan. 3, 2023.

“Embarrassing,” “nihilistic,” “dysfunctional.” Those are just a few of the many pejoratives directed at congressional Republicans in recent weeks amid a rather unconventional vote for a new Speaker of the House. We challenge the descriptions.

Far from the rough-and-tumble signaling dysfunction, we think it’s a sign of a healthy Republican Party on the path to even greater health. Realistically, this was what the Founders desired. Their original intent was plainly a slow lawmaking and spending process that would — yes — limit lawmaking and spending.

Contrary to the accepted wisdom about Republicans having recently aired their broken ways for all to see, the battling among the various Republican factions spoke to function. Conversely, dysfunction is when there’s harmony in Washington.

Please stop and think about why this is true: Amid all the shock and horror about the multiple votes for a new House Speaker, it was seemingly forgotten that Congress spent over $6 trillion last year. The previous number is an alarming sign of just how much control Congress has over the U.S. economy — and by extension, our freedom. 

Lest readers forget, Congress doesn’t tax away our wealth and earnings so that it can stare lovingly at all the dollars we produce; rather, Congress’s arrogation to itself of sizable amounts of our productive fruits is a yet again a signal of growing governmental control over the resources required by the productive in pursuit of economic advance.

To the above, some will say that the U.S. economy grows by leaps and bounds despite. That’s no doubt true, but such a view ignores the unseen. Really, what remarkable economic leaps haven’t taken place over the decades thanks to the federal government consuming growing amounts of wealth without which there is no advance?

There are quite simply no entrepreneurs without capital, nor is there advancement in general without capital. In which case we’ll never know the Amazon-, Tesla- and Meta-like concepts that never saw the light of day thanks to Congress existing as such a sizable and politicized allocator of precious resources. Thinking of Meta just a bit more, it’s no reach to suggest that the verdict about whether the “Metaverse” will define the future of business would have been arrived at already, absent such a large federal government. And that’s just commerce.

What about health advances? The previous question brings to mind a historical anecdote reported in the Wall Street Journal about how the creation of WD-40 didn’t happen overnight. Instead, it revealed a utility that endures to this day after over 40 failed tries. It’s worth thinking about this modernly prosaic lubricant relative to the endless attempts by scientists and doctors to come up with cures for cruel maladies such as cancer and heart disease. To say intrepid leaps meant to vanquish these killers are expensive is to waste words, at which point we must ask questions about experiments in pursuit of longer and better life that didn’t take place, thanks to Congress’s role as a growing consumer of resources always and everywhere produced in the private sector.

This is all worth keeping in mind as the conventional in thought lament the uneasy marriage inside the Republican Party of various factions including libertarians, neo-conservatives, religious conservatives and “corporatists.” That each can claim different policy priorities reads as a feature of the GOP, not a bug. And it’s a feature with a growing federal footprint top of mind. The simple truth is that Congress as we know it is once again too functional, and evidence supporting this claim is the certain tax that is government spending — one that shows no signs of abatement. In other words, when they’re getting along in Washington, watch your wallet.

As we write, the accepted wisdom is that a Republican Party at war with itself has a bleak future. We say such a view is backwards. In reality, the friction between the various GOP factions speaks to political markets at work, and the evolution of a much more effective Republican Party that, instead of being all things to various interest groups, will instead be very few things to a broader tent of voters with diverse priorities. Put another way, a Republican Party that can’t agree on policy priorities will have no choice but to pursue less policy, and less spending, and more freedom for voters to choose.

The previously described scenario is arguably what Republican voters have long wanted in general but haven’t gotten. We say this helps to explain the GOP’s underperformance in the midterm elections. Harmony and compromise on vast spending bills were paradoxically its undoing. Let the infighting begin, and continue.

David McIntosh is president of the Club for Growth and a former member of Congress. Follow him on Twitter @DavidMMcintosh.

John Tamny is vice president at FreedomWorks and editor of RealClearMarkets. Follow him on Twitter @sjohnsontamny.

Tags David McIntosh dysfunctional government House speaker vote Republican House Majority Republican Party

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