The Freedom Caucus, some 42 very conservative members of the House of Representatives have yet to be heard from…and that may be a foreboding of things to come.
Congressman Ryan has had his battles with this group in his Speaker of the House role and has usually managed to move legislation after some give and take. Ryan and Reince Priebus are seen as joined at the hip. These 42 members are very close to being sufficient to take the Republican majority out of play if they choose to do so by abstaining or voting against the other Republicans. They would need several additional Republicans to break ranks but that may be accomplished with some back and forth negotiating amongst other Republicans. They are usually quite bold in their assertions and the lack of any news on this front is a bit concerning. I have to presume they have caucused in anticipation of such an opportunity.
Will these 42 members coalesce behind the new President without too much aggravation or will they find this the opportunity to remind those in power that they still have some clout?
Given their past behavior, I would expect the Freedom Caucus to make as much of their power posture as is possible in this brave new world of a Trump presidency. And that may be especially inviting given Priebus’ role in the new White House. If that is the case, how far will this group go? What are they prepared to do to assert their perceived authority?
There will almost assuredly be some give and take between the White House and this group. This will bring the potential first head-on battle between a faction in the House and the new President, and he is not apparently given to quick and easy compromise. Maybe this will give us and the rest of the world a look at what we can expect going forward. Certainly, the heads of foreign states will watch closely in an effort to gauge what they might be able to expect if and when they find themselves up against the new Sheriff in town.
We conservatives have tended to think the battle with liberals is over with Trump in the White House and a Republican majority in both the House and Senate, but stranger things have happened in the world of politics. And the Freedom Caucus is a bit of a loose cannon.
This all may come down to whether or not previous hard feelings between Ryan and this group will be sufficient to provoke a confrontation or not. I would not like to have to place a bet on this since I tend to think of this group of conservatives as undefinable.
The temptation to assert themselves in this new era might be difficult for them to overcome. The world of politics at this level sometimes results in configurations of members that one would’ve thought to be improbable if not impossible. The behind-the-scenes meetings might make for great drama. This is, in fact, where and when a faction such as the Freedom Caucus would choose to make its stand.
In this world, one never knows when, or even if, another opportunity will present itself. Given that reality, the temptation to seize the first significant opportunity to claim an identity in this new world of politics is likely to be impossible to ignore. The band of 42 has demonstrated that it is committed even when many critics rise up from among the masses. These members continue to be re-elected and that is the key from their individual perspectives. Preservation of self, in this world, is the most important thing, in almost all situations except life or death of the country.
These guys and gals have worked hard to get to the top of their pile and they do not give ground easily. There is always the possibility, as demonstrated recently, that they might be plucked to run for an even higher office.