New Heroes, Old Villains, and a New Era of Self Governance: The 118th Congress is Now in Session

Happy New Year, everyone! 

I apologize for being so inconsistent in writing here. I’ve been focused on developing daily content for Conservative Daily, and I’ve been spending way too much time focused on the federal government’s latest performance, which is the substance of this post. 

I’ve also been spending more time in Twitter Spaces, which is a surprisingly welcome new forum to drive connection and discourse outside the echo chambers. Captivating voice conversations with diverse humans are happening in Twitter Spaces, across the nation and the world. 

We are living in a very interesting time in media history, and I am enjoying the new channels and platforms at this moment. The censorship veils have been (temporarily?) lifted, and we all need to take advantage of this opportunity to speak the truth and engage in respectful exchanges of ideas – while we can.

Quick Housekeeping

In the pursuit of breaking out of the echo chamber, I will be moving my content over to Substack this month, and redirecting this site to that platform. This will allow me to focus less on infrastructure and more on content, and it’s an opportunity to engage new audiences in discussion. I am excited about the change. 

From a social engagement standpoint, I am spending more time on Twitter than Telegram or Truth these days. We need to reach those that are still living in the thick fog of deception — as many of them as we can, while we can. I encourage you to join me in this. I will continue share our show, clips, letters to Congress, and all my writing on all the social platforms; but, as the best part of social is connecting with others, my time spent on socials will be on Twitter, Truth, and Telegram.

I am working to finish the book as quickly as I can, hopefully within the first quarter, which is another reason for my sporadic posts here. Supporters of my work (both old and new) will receive advanced information and exclusive content and access with that rollout later this year. 

Finally, I will also be shutting down the donation feature here. I was hesitant to ever set it up, and you all have blessed me beyond comprehension during this time of transition in my career. God used your support in profound ways, and I am forever grateful. If you want to continue supporting my work, please do so on substack once I have it up and running.

Okay, enough of all that. Let’s talk about Speaker McCarthy. 

Let the Games Begin – Speaker Vote Play by Play 

The newly selected House of Representatives spent four days last week getting to the outcome we all knew was coming: Speaker Kevin McCarthy. 

Even though we knew the outcome, I’m still a bit disappointed. I would have loved to see the establishment kingpin, Rep Kevin McCarthy (CA), have to move his belongings out of the Speaker’s office after prematurely settling in. 

Still, the 20 Republican representatives that stood on their principles and forced valuable concessions – in writing – did America a solid. They deserve our gratitude.

While the rules package needs to be voted upon, McCarthy will likely face mutiny if he reneges, meaning the House is going to be fun to cover this session. Last week’s Speaker drama was the most entertaining thing Congress has done in 100 years. 

After round three, there were several data points and questions that I wanted to follow. I didn’t see the voting rounds tracked anywhere so I started tracking it myself. Later I discovered that the NYT was tracking in real time. I checked my record against theirs, and I had some errors and transposed votes — and I called Rep Hunt “Jeff” for far too long, no idea why, and you may see it in the screenshots on Twitter) — so the second check on my work was helpful. Yes, I pay for NYT – don’t judge me. I write about uniparty gaslighting, and NYT is the mothership.

The establishment fat cats – those who have been in government forever and have gotten us to this point – believe that it’s McCarthy’s turn. McCarthy is the last standing Young Gun, the authoritarian Republican leaders in the House that have terrorized right-leaning Americans for over a decade. The leadership that has overseen the epic decline of the Republican party. 

In this moment of great change in right side politics, it’s that guy’s turn. 

You Need 218 to Win, Bro

From the very first round of voting, there were 19 Republicans that dissented from McCarthy, initially voting for a variety of candidates. In the second round, the 19 aligned behind Rep Jim Jordan (OH). Jordan voted for McCarthy in every round. 19 dissenters gave McCarthy 203 votes, 15 short of the 218 threshold for victory.

In the third round, Rep Byron Donalds (FL) joined the 19 in voting for Jordan, setting the total dissent at 20 votes and dropping McCarthy to 202. They then adjourned to Wednesday. 

On Wednesday, the 20 dissenting Reps all voted for Donalds in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds, with Rep Victoria Spartz (IN) voting present. With the Spartz vote, McCarthy’s support slipped to 201 votes. It was a good day, and they voted to adjourn until Thursday.

The Democrats, for all 15 rounds, voted for Rep Hakeem Jeffries (NY), with Rep Pete Aguilar (CA) giving the nomination nine out of 15 rounds. What a glory whore, refusing to share the primetime spotlight with his colleagues. Again, this was the most watched (short of a Trump SOTU) and most interesting event in Congress in 100 years. Aguilar stole the spotlight.

Thursday, things got more interesting, and we started to see the dissenting votes shift into two factions: “Never Kevin” and “It’s Going to Be Kevin So Let’s Get All We Can.” I will call the latter folks “Kevin With Concessions.” 

In the seventh and eighth rounds, Rep Matt Gaetz (FL) voted for President Donald J. Trump. This brought joy into the hearts of MAGA, especially when the Clerk of the 118th Congress read, “The Honorable Donald J. Trump from the Great State of Florida” into the official record of the preceding. 

In the eighth, the Never Kevin crowd started shifting toward Rep Kevin Hern (OK), with the Kevin With Concessions group sticking with Donalds. Hern, like Jordan, voted for McCarthy in every round. 

In the ninth, Gaetz switched from Trump to Hern, and Rep Ken Buck (CO), who is my selected Congressman, was absent. This brought McCarthy’s total down to 200. Buck did not return until fourteenth round on Friday. 

In the tenth, we saw all of the Never Kevins vote for Hern with the exception of Rep. Bob Good (VA) who stuck with Donalds until the 11th when he switched to Hern. The eleventh was also when Gaetz formally nominated President Donald J. Trump, so his name appeared on the screen while that round of voting was underway. That was fun. 

Let’s go.

After the eleventh round of voting on Thursday, the chamber adjourned. 

The Beginning of the End

Friday kicked off with a bang, and here I will opine a bit more on the dynamics of the vote changes within each round. 

In the twelfth round, the Kevin With Concessions team reached a deal and switched their vote to McCarthy. This round was important as, at that point, the Concessions crowd was insufficient to close the deal for McCarthy. Rep Andy Harris (MD) was still team Never Kevin and voted for Jordan in the twelfth, and the rest of the Never Kevins were split across Hern and Jordan. 

Rep Wesley Hunt (TX) and Ken Buck were both absent in the twelfth and thirteenth rounds.

In the thirteenth, the Kevin With Concessions crowd won over Harris, who began this drama by casting his vote for Lee Zeldin in the first round. Harris switched his vote to McCarthy, with opened up a path to victory for McCarthy. I wonder what they promised Harris to get him to switch teams?

The remaining six Never Kevins united behind Jordan in the thirteenth; again, Jordan refused the job and voted for McCarthy. Rep Jordan is anxious to chair the Judiciary Committee, and I am for it. 

The chamber adjourned until 10PM, and McCarthy expressed his confidence in the next round’s outcome. 

Don’t Count Your Chickens…

At 10PM, they returned and the establishment seemed pleased with themselves. The Never Kevins remained defiant, but the fourteenth round brought the return of Hunt and Buck. With the full chamber present, a self-congratulatory tone filled the chamber with pompous speeches and a little too much applause sending the message that this was a done deal. 

It was premature.

Gaetz and Boebert voted “Present” with the other four Never Kevins casting votes for Biggs and Jordan. McCarthy failed for the fourteenth time. 

This appeared to be unplanned as, once it was clear they would be voting again, Rep. Mike Rogers (AL) stormed down the aisle, chased by Rep Richard Hudson (NC), to where Gaetz and McCarthy were engaged in heated debate.

Rogers leaned into Gaetz’s row, and it looked like he was going to come to fisticuffs with the Florida Republican!  

You can see McCarthy walking away in the photo above. He quickly turned back up the aisle to address the confrontation. Photo: C-SPAN Broadcast

Hudson quickly grabbed Rogers, first by the shoulders and then by the face, unfortunately deescalating the potential fist fight.

I say unfortunately because there hasn’t been a major brawl in the House of Representatives since 1858, and I thought this new Congress was all about breaking records. First we fail to achieve 134 rounds to break the 133 round record set in 1855, and then Hudson breaks up a fight. Disappointing.

Hudson grabs Rogers and ushers him out of the Chamber. Photo: Andrew Harnik AP

After the excitement, they held the fifteenth and final round of voting, and Kevin McCarthy finally got his way. All six Never Kevins voted present, lowering the victory threshold to 215. With Buck and Hunt voting again, McCarthy received 216 votes. 

It Was Always Going to Be This Way

On the first and second days of voting, I kept arguing with Joe on air about why this theatrical performance was important to cover. His position was that it’s just a show and Kevin is the anointed one. Of course, Joe is right, but I still maintain that it’s important. 

From where I sit, 20 Republicans had an overwhelmingly successful week in three specific ways. 

First, consider what the NY Times has to say about last week’s coverage:

“No channel, though, has enjoyed a bigger bump of cultural clout than C-SPAN, a media property with decades of experience broadcasting Congressional roll calls. C-SPAN has trended on Twitter and seen a record number of downloads of its mobile app, according to a spokesman, Howard Mortman. C-SPAN is not rated by Nielsen, but its YouTube stream of Thursday’s proceedings recorded 1.2 million views.”

NY Times – Jan 6, 2022: “C-SPAN and cable news get a boost from the House speaker spectacle”

For four days, 20 Republicans forced into the spotlight the outsized influence of the parties and the detached “it’s his turn” mentality of our government.

It wasn’t just 1.2 million views. The C-SPAN feed was streamed all over YouTube and Rumble. The Badlands feed that I was watching had over forty thousand viewers at one point. People were watching, and that show was the best red pill we could ever design.

Also, side note, the NY Times piece includes this nugget: “Usually, C-SPAN’s coverage of the House is overseen by the political party in charge of the chamber, which can control what C-SPAN viewers see and hear.” Did you guys know that? I didn’t. Interesting.

Second, the 20 achieved high-value wins, such as a single member now being allowed to introduce a “motion to vacate,” a vote on ousting the speaker. According to the NY Post, other major concessions include:

“A promise for guaranteed votes on pet issues, like a balanced budget amendment, and term limits, a Texas border plan, and an end to all remaining coronavirus mandates and funding.

A new committee to investigate the alleged weaponization of the FBI against its political foes. The committee would be modeled on the Church Committee, which investigated US intelligence agencies in 1975. It would have a budget comparable to the recently disbanded Jan. 6 Committee.

More single-subject bills to allow members to vote on specific, narrow issues instead of thousand-page pork barrel behemoths.

A 72-hour window for members to read any new bill before it can be voted on.

A promise to refuse any increase in the debt ceiling in the next federal budget agreement.”

NY Post – Jan 7, 2022: “Freedom Caucus earns major concessions from Kevin McCarthy after speaker vote”

These are wins for the American people, and a defeat for centralized party power. As a result, our role with our Representatives now carries more weight. Decreasing the power of the Speaker increases the power of the members, and the members report to us. 

Our Representatives will now have greater ability to represent our interests.

Let’s make sure they do.

The third major win is in service to the second. After watching and live tweeting every moment of the Speaker Vote proceedings, I have a much better understanding of the factions and divisions within the Republican conference. Honestly, I have a good portion of the 434-person roster memorized after 15 roll calls. Every right-leaning voter should have a better understanding of where their representative lines up in the grand scheme of this new House majority. 

For citizen journalists and activist writers (like me) this is going to make covering the House much more dynamic. And as all three of these major wins converge, we can achieve what I will refer to as active self governance.

Reclaiming Our Republic Through Active Self-Governance

For far too long, for several generations, we have set our self government on auto-pilot, allowing the parties to assume our rightful role in government. 

In my work with grassroots teams across the nation over the past two years, I’ve come to passionately believe that self governance is a verb. It’s active and requires direct interaction and two-way communication with those who take the oath to protect your rights. 

It’s bad enough that, according to our governing documents, the federal government has assumed powers that rightfully belong to the states, and the states have assumed powers that rightfully belong to the individuals. It’s much worse that we have allowed the parties to assume the role of the individual. 

In Colorado, where I live, the majority of voters are unaffiliated with either party. This is the case in many states across the nation. In 2022, the people attempted to reclaim their local power in Colorado, sweeping caucus and assemblies with America First candidates. Then the primaries were won by establishment candidates that didn’t undergo the assembly process and barely campaigned. 

The party – not the people of the party but party leadership – selected their candidates.

The stranglehold that the two major parties have on our self government is outsized and unconstitutional. In President George Washington’s farewell address, he warned against our current reality, declaring:

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.” 

George Washington, Farewell Address

President John Adams, Washington’s successor, warned the same: 

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

John Adams, The Works Of John Adams, Second President Of The United States

They’re right. We see it. We’re living it. 

I am not advocating for a third party, though for the past two elections I have voted for candidates from a variety of parties and no party at all. It’s been liberating to vote for people I’ve spoken to and believe in. You should try it, and we should all give a serious look to independent candidates during election years.

Rather, I am advocating for reducing the power and influence that all political parties hold in civics, demanding greater transparency from government at all levels, and engaging with our government representatives, again at all levels, to achieve appropriate representation independent of the parties. 

This, of course, requires us to be actively communicating with them. Every day on Conservative Daily, we publish a letter to federal legislators based on current events. You can take that letter and modify it for your legislators. 

Active Self-Governance is not going to be delivered by the parties. Based on my experience, the parties will resist our involvement any way they can. We have to switch off the auto-pilot and retake the controls.

Restoring representative self-government is up to us. 

Our efforts have to be driven by active, hands-on engagement in civics. They require all of us to rebuke the gaslighting and self-posturing and banish politics to the campaign trail. And these efforts must be founded upon truth and directed by the will of the people.

Last week 20 courageous representatives kicked off this change program by standing in the gap and changing the rules of the game. Now it’s time to assume our rightful role in the ecosystem and put our shoulder to the wheel. 

If everyone sticks to a single resolution in this new year, let it be to pay attention, demand remedy for our grievances, and hold our government accountable. 

2023 is going to be fun.