C-SPAN’s cameras have been enjoying free rein and the American people are better off for it

This past week Americans experienced something that has not happened for 100 years: The House of Representatives took more than a couple of days—and no fewer than 14 votes—to agree upon a speaker. It has been something of a fiasco for the Republican Party because there is no ideological division here. It is simply a power play by the most outspoken oligarchs in the party to force its establishment dinosaurs to concede an extraordinary amount of control to a very small group of fascists.

Something else historic has also happened this week: Americans have had a chance to watch and see so much more of the in-chamber processes that go on when voting gets messy in the modern American legislative branch. The old Saturday Night Live joke in the 1980s was that whenever you had to watch something political on C-SPAN the coverage came through the single camera the network owned. Not this week. This week, C-SPAN has been freed up to give new angles throughout the proceedings of the House voting process.

This has made the entire process so much more interesting to watch and follow than it might normally be.

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Of course, the only reason this has been happening is that there is no official majority party making rules for Congress this session. Usually, the party in control creates specific views of what C-SPAN cameras can cover and broadcast and what they cannot. C-SPAN is operating under the rules established by Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the opening day of the 118th Congress in 2022. Of course, back then, Speaker Pelosi was able to get the confidence vote of her political party without days of theatrics. It has been a game changer in loosening up some of the stodginess of the political process.

Showing the entire chamber and the many interactions that go on or do not go on is an evolution of what the media gets to see. As CNN reports, when cameras were first allowed onto legislative branch floors, in the 1980s and 1990s, folks like Republican Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia used the limited visibility they offered to pretend to be big men when, in fact, they were simply pretenders.

When cameras were first allowed, they became a potent political weapon. In the 1980s and early 1990s, congressmen such as Republican Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia – later the House speaker – would give speeches criticizing Democrats meant only for the TV cameras. There would be few people in the chamber, and since lawmakers could speak on any subject, it seemed as if there were no answers from the other side.

There have been all kinds of moments showing the various group-ups different sets of representatives had during the many failed votes. Many of those meet-ups included political theater major Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.

There was this moment between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Paul Gosar where AOC showed her patience with a man very few people can stand to be around for more than a minute or two. Reportedly the two discussed the possibilities of a deal where Democratic representatives might throw enough votes McCarthy’s way to give him the Speaker position.

Now we get to see things like Florida man Matt Gaetz having half of his political party walk out on him while he was speaking. 

Then there was the tragically comedic moment where the incompetent and lying Republican from New York, George Santos, wasn’t even able to do the single job he had.

All good things must come to an end and at some point, I’m sure the Republican Party will make sure that the cameras in the House stick tightly to a very narrow view. It isn’t that the conservatives in the party do not want Americans to see how they actually act on the floor of the House; it is that they don’t want the American people to become at all interested in what they actually do on the floor of the House.

Undeniably backed by the Democratic Caucus, Hakeem Jeffries calls out Republican ‘craziness’

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries is on his way to once again making history with the full backing of Congressional Democrats. In all three roll call votes on Tuesday, Jeffries got 212 votes, at least 9 more than Republican Kevin McCarthy. Jeffries won't cross the vote threshold to grab the Speaker's gavel because Republicans still have an edge overall, but Democrats made it crystal clear that Hakeem Jeffries is the unquestionable leader of the Democratic Caucus. At a press conference on Tuesday, Jeffries showed exactly why Democrats are supporting him in force.

According to NBC News, by securing 212 votes, Hakeem made history as the first Democratic leader to win support from every single member of their caucus since 2007.  Rep. Nancy Pelosi had won unanimous support from her caucus after helping lead the party back into the majority in 2007.

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"We are gonna stay here to get this done. We are unified, and we're all gonna support Hakeem Jeffries for speaker, the lead vote-getter in the last ballot," Rep. Pete Aguilar, the new House Democratic Caucus chair, said of Jeffries’s nomination during the second round of voting.

But while Democrats were unified in voting for Jeffries, Republicans disagreed on who their next leader would be. The House adjourned Tuesday without picking a new speaker since McCarthy failed to win a majority on three ballots. According to CBS News, Tuesday's vote was the first time in 100 years that the House speaker seat remained unfilled after the convening of a new Congress. Additionally, it is also the first time in a century that the Speaker election has needed multiple rounds of voting.

During a speech Tuesday, Jeffries told reporters he is not willing to help Republicans elect a speaker.

“We are looking for a willing partner to solve problems for the American people, not save the Republicans from their dysfunction,” Jeffries said.

House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said it was a "sad day for democracy" after Republicans failed to choose a House speaker, preventing Congress from beginning its work. Follow @AP's coverage. https://t.co/RJYG9NzmdS pic.twitter.com/I6mCZyMbEx

— The Associated Press (@AP) January 4, 2023

He also nailed his introduction press conference by calling out the lack of organization Republicans have. He noted that while Democrats are “united, present, ready, willing, and able to get things done on behalf of the American people,” Republicans are dysfunctional.

JEFFRIES: The Republican dysfunction is what it is: Chaos, crisis and confusion, along with craziness. That's sad for the American people. They're going to have to figure out a way out of it. pic.twitter.com/jbwqa62SCR

— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) January 4, 2023

Of course, while Republicans like McCarthy insisted to reporters that the party is "unified," the reality of the situation is clear.

"This isn't about me," McCarthy said, according to CBS News. "This is about the conference now because the members who are holding out … they want something for their personal selves."

Nevertheless, whatever reason it may be, Republicans seem to be confused now more than ever while Democrats are ready to make moves.

Jeffries comes with substantial leadership experience. He is not only considered the youngest member to serve as chairman of the Democratic Caucus, but was also part of a select group of lawmakers who were impeachment managers during the Senate trial of Donald Trump.

According to CNN, Jeffries is set to become one of the highest-ranking Black politicians in America, as the country makes history with a record number of Black members of Congress.

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) on GOP gridlock in the House Speaker race: "This is who they are: crisis, confusion, disarray. It's unfortunate that that's what the modern-day House Republican Conference looks like." pic.twitter.com/vmNTzLejFT

— The Recount (@therecount) January 4, 2023

Democrats continue to show the country that they are united and able to get things done, and kudos to House Democrats for making that divide very clear.