By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Profiles in cowardice

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan. Photo (cc) 2016 by Gage Skidmore.

In case you missed the actual vote tally, Jim Jordan received 194 votes, all from Republicans, in the third and final round of public balloting for the House speakership. And he received just 86 in secret balloting among Republican caucus members; 112 were opposed. In other words, more than 100 gutless Republicans didn’t want him to become speaker but were too afraid to vote accordingly on the House floor.

I understand that Jordan had unleashed his goons and that some Republican House members were receiving death threats if they failed to back their extreme right-wing colleague, labeled a “legislative terrorist” by former Republican Speaker John Boehner. It’s awful. But we are at a moment when every elected official has to choose between authoritarianism and democracy. And a frightening number of Republicans are only willing to stand up to authoritarianism if they can do so in secret.

“The public intimidation worked when they had to go to the floor and before their colleagues and before the nation declare their fealty to Jordan or their fealty to someone else,” said Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart on the “PBS NewsHour” Friday evening. “But behind closed doors, they were actually able to say what they really felt.”

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  1. Lex

    Yes, the anti-Jordan Republicans are, for the most part, cowards. But let’s be clear about what’s going on here. There’s a word for using violence or the threat of it to achieve political or policy ends. That word is “terrorism.” And we’re not using it nearly often enough to describe what Republicans (and not just the MAGA variety) are doing and/or tolerating to get what they want.

  2. Ben

    Hard to know how unusual it is when we don’t have secret ballot reporting for Pelosi, Ryan etc

  3. pauljbass

    Great point

    • pauljbass

      (Oops — was referring to the main column, not the comment thread)

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