Guest columnist Michael Seward: Dems made their own bed

U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) gives a brief statement to reporters about the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, at the U.S. Capitol Oct. 26, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) gives a brief statement to reporters about the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, at the U.S. Capitol Oct. 26, 2023, in Washington, D.C. GETTY IMAGES/TNS/DREW ANGERER


Published: 11-13-2023 4:13 PM

Soon after former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted, this newspaper published an article where U.S. Reps. Richard Neal and James McGovern attempted to justify their decision to join all House Democrats in that effort. In doing so, they once again put party before country with disastrous results. They traded one delusional, election-denying House Speaker for an even worse one.

Every Democratic Party member of the U.S. House of Representatives thought it was a good strategy to follow the lead of right-wing extremist Rep. Matthew Gaetz and his band of dimwits, who were having a collective temper tantrum over McCarthy’s compromise with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown. The irresponsible and reckless maneuver by House Democrats rendered the people’s House impotent for several weeks.

Yet despite the unanimous support of House Democrats, McGovern characterized his party’s responsibility for it as “laughable” in an article in this newspaper, “McGovern, Neal rip ‘clown show,’ ‘spectacle’ on Capitol Hill.” [Gazette, Oct. 5]. 

McGovern is completely detached from reality if he doesn’t think it isn’t his party’s fault, after every single House Democrat supported Gaetz’s motion to remove McCarthy. McGovern may also believe his constituents are so clueless as to accept his assertion. I personally thought his mental gymnastics reflected unscrupulous rationalizations, not that of a judicious legislator. Whatever his reasoning, he doesn’t inspire confidence by not accepting responsibility.

Then McGovern went on to acknowledge how dangerous removing McCarthy was in the same article.

“If there’s a national emergency or an international emergency, we can’t respond … This put our nation in a very, very dangerous spot,” McGovern said.

No kidding. And he knowingly voted to put the nation in a very, very dangerous spot, then blamed Republicans for it. Perhaps we’d be better off if our representatives weren’t so dodgy.

Neal went on to speculate that the U.S. House of Representatives would end up electing a more reasonable House Speaker after McCarthy was removed last month.

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“I hope and anticipate that sometime next week, once Republicans begin to figure out what path they want to travel, they will elect a more moderate Republican speaker, and we need to get on with keeping the government open,” Neal said.

Neal’s hopes and anticipation proved wrong. Why he thought following Gaetz’s lead would result in a more reasonable House speaker is mind-boggling. They weren’t dealing with reasonable people and they knew it. We all saw the havoc Gaetz created as he led the effort against McCarthy’s election to the speakership. Gaetz played House Democrats like a fiddle and won. McGovern said Republicans lit themselves on fire, but Democrats responded by pouring gasoline on themselves.

House Democrat recklessness resulted in the elevation of an even more insidious extremist to the speakership, putting him second in the line of succession for the presidency. As Bill Newman pointed out in his recent column in the Gazette, “Another step toward fascism,” House Speaker Mike Johnson led the charge to reverse the election of a duly elected president, he supports Christian nationalism, and he favors discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Thank you, House Democrats.

This isn’t the first time the hubris of Neal, McGovern, and the Democratic Party backfired on their own party and the country. During the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries, the overwhelming majority of the respective constituencies of Neal and McGovern supported Bernie Sanders as the nominee. There were many examples of senators and representatives throughout the country doing the same thing, as well.

But Neal and McGovern both raised money for, campaigned for, and used their undemocratic superdelegate votes for Hillary Clinton. The will of their own constituents wasn’t a consideration. It would be laughable for Democrats to argue they didn’t help put Donald Trump in the Oval Office by working so hard to support Hillary when so many were so enthusiastic about Bernie.

Now we have another looming government shutdown with Republican extremist Mike Johnson at the helm thanks to the poor judgment of Neal, McGovern, and their fellow House Democrats. They chose party loyalty over the best interests of the country, their responsibility to their constituents, and their duty to their country.

They created a power vacuum by following the lead of a right-wing extremist, which resulted in the foreseeable rise of yet another right-wing extremist. They are accountable for what comes next. It’s laughable to suggest otherwise.

Michael Seward lives in Sunderland.