Now that the GOP has gained a House majority, Kevin McCarthy has a real opportunity to rise to the occasion. Although it wasn’t the midterm election result McCarthy wanted, by winning the House of Representatives the Republican Party has a seat at the governing table. The 55th speaker of the House is in a position to set policies and priorities in contrast to Joe Biden, and in the process make the case that a Republican belongs back in the White House in 2024.
Doing so means that McCarthy and his lieutenants will have to demonstrate they understand the value of playing the long game. Even in a complicated political environment, the incoming GOP House leader can reset the party’s internal politics – provided he can orchestrate his caucus to communicate with purpose. It's a tall task, but this is the moment.
Republicans would be well-served to focus first on what majorities of the American people want – bringing inflation under control, lowering the cost of gasoline and groceries, leading the country out of recession, and checking President Biden’s tax-and-spend Big Government master plan.
House Republicans could be off to a quick start, focusing on issues that unify the American people. HR 1 should be an American Energy Power Plan, where we put the left on defense and finally put our nation’s energy future on solid footing. A cold winter is a bracing reminder that U.S. energy production must happen on our soil, on our terms, while bolstering American jobs and helping European allies.
Voters would also rest easier knowing that our borders are under control and that U.S. military and economic strength is a deterrent to North Korean missiles and Iranian-backed terrorism, not to mention Russian cybercrime and Vladimir Putin’s territorial ambitions. Focus on the priorities, unify the American people, and you can go a long way toward unifying the GOP House conference.
Headline-chasing investigations should be distinct from regular oversight. There is a dire need to audit, trace, and confirm taxpayer dollars. We must know that the countless billions are being appropriately spent. And while we are being blunt, the GOP should drop the word impeachment from their vocabulary. We need to show that we can learn from the mistakes of the opposition.
We don’t need an investigation to confirm China’s responsibility for spreading COVID. Still, hearings can identify why public health systems failed and identify approaches that don’t trample civil liberties or shut down the American economy the next time we confront a pandemic. When it comes to inquiries into Biden's business dealings, direct questions about payments to Joe Biden are far more relevant than even the most scandalous, and at this point personally tragic, revelations about Hunter Biden.
Clicks are not votes, and social media engagement is not persuasion. Elon Musk will do his best to rebuild Twitter into a public square, but compelling communication fundamentals should be the priority. Look at Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis leveraged disputes over stadium funding. Mike DeWine in Ohio led on the economy and created the political climate which helped the GOP to hold a vital Senate seat.
All of this will occur against the backdrop of the 2024 GOP presidential primary. Donald Trump is running, and he is the front-runner unless served notice by primary voters. He is a formidable campaigner, and nobody is better at delivering a one-line knock-out punch.
Like the successful 1994 “Contract with America” before it, McCarthy’s “Commitment to America” is the checklist the GOP should use to keep their focus. Nancy Pelosi will no longer be an option for punditry punchlines, and intra-party squabbles will draw the interest of a hostile establishment media. We agree with Newt Gingrich, probably the most notorious back-bench rabble-rouser of them all: Picking fights with leadership doesn’t advance the ball.
If the GOP nominee wins in ’24, it will be because they won the independent voter's support. To get there, McCarthy first has to realign the GOP’s message.