Caitlin Mayo is a freshman nursing major.
A house united can never be defeated, but it is quite clear that the House of Representatives is a house divided. With the resignation of John Boehner as Speaker of the House on September 25, House leadership had fallen into uncertainty, revealing just how divided the Republican Party is. As Speaker of the House, Boehner was troubled with the monumental task of appeasing every side of his party, from moderate Republicans to those further on the right, while simultaneously attempting to mount a united opposition against the Democrats in accomplishing the Republican political agenda. Boehner decided enough was enough and resigned.The task has now fallen to Senator Paul Davis Ryan of Wisconsin.
Ryan acknowledges that he is being thrown center stage of a broken political situation.“The House is broken,” he stated after his election as Speaker. “We’re not solving problems, we’re adding to them. And I’m not interested in laying blame. We’re not settling scores, we’re wiping the slate clean.”
Ryan is facing this task head-on. According to Politico, his plan consists of “embarking in an overhaul of internal House procedures by restructuring a powerful committee that selects committee assignments and rewriting internal institutional rules by the end of the year with the help of the entire House Republican Conference.” Such a plan addresses some of the internal, institutional insecurities faced by the House. But how successful will Ryan be in his new position? Ryan will have to survive the naysayers and address the concerns of the more conservative Republicans, especially because those concerns had lead to Boehner’s resignation. Ryan’s own personal positions have shifted in order to accommodate the views of the farther right. According to the Los Angeles Times, he has sided with conservatives in declaring he “will not vote on comprehensive immigration legislation as long as President Obama is in office.”
However, attempting to appease conservatives is not a permanent solution. Even if Ryan is a politician, as Speaker of the House, he should understand that he is considered the head of his party in the House of Representatives, and he should not only be attempting to appease sides of his party. In fact, doing so only divides the Republican party more. The party itself will have to convene and compromise so they can unite under one platform as political parties are meant to. If not, the Republican Party will have to face the consequences of having a divided party, which in turn divides the House. Congress will continue to lose its credibility with the people as less and less legislation could be agreed upon, giving more power to the executive branch. And with the upcoming presidential election, the Republican Party will only be further divided as factions of the party push for different candidates to further their individual political agendas. A democracy needs difference in opinion, but the inability to unite under one strong voice only leads to dissonance.
Paul Ryan will need to be a strong, firm conductor to control the cacophony. Though he didn’t ask for the position, he may well be what the Republican Party needs. They need a new face, a new direction, a new force to challenge the structures long put in place. But most of all, they need a unifying force to bring together a House divided. Ryan has a monumental task ahead of him, and only time will tell whether he can make the difference that the House needs. Best of luck, Mr. Speaker.