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Guest Opinion

No, Rep. Fitzpatrick, Democrats don’t own speakership debacle


What a confession. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a self-proclaimed Republican moderate, voted for an unqualified, unknown, extremist, inexperienced, 2020 election denier for Speaker of the House and second in the line to the presidency, simply because “We can’t have the lights off in the House of Representatives” (Oct. 26).

A truly sad commentary on today’s Republican Party. And it brings up the fundamental question of whether there is any effective role at all in this Republican Party for a moderate — self-proclaimed or otherwise.

Then, Fitzpatrick had the nerve to claim that 208 Democrats own responsibility — along with a measly eight Republicans — for Kevin McCarthy’s loss of the speakership and the resulting chaos in his own Republican Party. Democrats provided McCarthy the crucial votes he needed on Sept. 30 to keep the government open. In the mode of no-good-deed-goes-unpunished, McCarthy went on the Sunday news shows and claimed that Democrats almost caused the government to shut down — a brazen case of political backstabbing.

Yet, in Congressman Fitzpatrick’s mind, Democrats were supposed to listen to McCarthy bad-mouth them on Sunday and immediately turn around and save him again.

The only people who bear responsibility for the demise of McCarthy’s long-sought-after speakership are the same chaos caucus Republicans who do not want to govern, who do not want to solve problems, but rather want simply — and proudly — to pursue scorched earth nihilism.

In light of McCarthy’s behavior, Fitzpatrick’s request for Democratic votes is made only more laughable when one considers whether Republicans would ever do the reverse for a Democratic leader.

Fitzpatrick admits he has serious policy differences with Speaker Johnson, including on the legitimacy of President Biden’s 2020 election. This is not a mere “policy difference.”

In fact, the man Fitzpatrick and all his GOP colleagues voted to keep the lights on is no passive election denier.

Johnson took a lead role in organizing Republicans to file an amicus brief in support of a Texas lawsuit seeking to invalidate election results in key swing states, including Pennsylvania. In an email to congressional colleagues, Johnson wrote that Trump “specifically asked me to contact all Republican Members of the House and Senate today and request that all join on to our brief” and that Trump was anxiously awaiting “to see who signed on.”

At a press conference after becoming Speaker, Johnson was asked about his involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He gave no answer, and the Republicans around him responded with boos and laughter.

Nevertheless, and all evidence to the contrary, Fitzpatrick is struggling mightily to paint Johnson as a moderate. Per Politico, in a Zoom call organized by No Labels, our congressman asserted, “He’s [Johnson] a Reagan Republican, not a Trump Republican.” Really? President Reagan would never have sought to overthrow the results of a fair and free election. In his farewell address to the nation, Reagan projected a strong future for America by citing the importance of “the [constitutional] principles that have guided us for two centuries.”

No, Mr. Fitzpatrick, Speaker Johnson is not a Reagan moderate, and the GOP, still firmly in Trump’s grip, is no longer a party committed to democracy and those “guiding principles.” The answer to the governing challenges we face today is not your feckless so-called moderation in a deeply extremist party, but rather the 2024 election of pro-democracy, pro-governing Democrats across the nation, including in PA-01.

Tom Taft lives in Chalfont.

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