The United States Congress had a turbulent and historic end to September. Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner announced his plan to resign his position as House Leader effective Oct. 30.
Boehner was House minority leader prior to the Republican takeover of Congress during the 2010 midterm elections. Since then, Boehner has maintained his position of majority leader and Speaker of the House, endowing the Ohio Republican with great power.
As Speaker of the House, however, Boehner rarely engaged in floor debates, did not participate in voting on the floor and also was not affiliated with any House committees. One could easily begin to see why his fractured party began to disagree more and more with their leader.
Essentially anyone with a basic background in American politics could tell you this Congress is staunchly divided on any debate from fiscal policy to funding Planned Parenthood. Even Boehner—who rose to power at an alarming rate in 2010 because of the Tea Party—was beginning to become distrusted within his own party.
The Republican Party today certainly is fractured in terms of conservative values—even more when one breaks economic from social debates. This is where Boehner began to lose most of his loyalty within the GOP; he was willing to cooperate and even support arguments across party lines. This was something the vast majority of conservatives would not go for.
Many politicians and Americans alike wondered why the Speaker had chosen to simply resign rather than align with the rest of his party. Surely Congress, the Senate and the White House had discourse and conflicts in the past and this time would be no different.
Boehner realized, however, that the GOP was immensely splintered. Boehner said in his resignation speech, “My first job as Speaker is to protect the institution. It’s become clear to me that this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to this institution.”
While some may argue that this is a cop-out, others may state that this was bound to happen. As political polarization occurs, fewer resolutions can be reached. Thus the leaders of said parties will attempt to transcend those boundaries. When they do, their respective parties at-large will see it as disloyalty and cease to support them. If the leaders stand their ground, then no resolution will take place.
It is becoming increasingly clear that American politics cannot continue on its current course. The last government shutdown enraged Americans in October 2013 and it is possible that it may occur again. A choice must eventually be made between a cooperative and effective government or a politically divided one. It does not take a political scientist to notice that political polarization is simply destroying our government.