Kevin McCarthy’s speakership is blocked, but by where?

The Compass of Power Episode VIII

Like you, I am deeply, deeply troubled by the events of this past week. There is no speaker of the United States House of Representatives yet, and I really don’t know what we’re going to do moving forward. I have started stockpiling my water.

There have been many complaints about the failure of the new Republican majority to choose a leader, a speaker of the house, to run things. If you can’t do that, then you don’t get to swear anybody in. You don’t get to assign any committees. You all just stand around in the House of Representatives talking to each other, which is not what we elected you to do.

The reaction from the Democrats, who very nearly have a majority, but not enough to elect their own person, has varied from jeering to hyperbole. President Biden called it “embarrassing” that it’s taking so long. You know, I suppose that it’s embarrassing that it has to be the other side that picks the speaker. But certainly, other countries go through this difficultly, struggling to come up with a majority governing coalition. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Democrat from New York, called it “a profound danger to the country as long as it lasts.”

It has been a century since anything of the kind has occurred. As I write this, it’s been seven votes, with McCarthy failing every time. The majority of the Republicans nominate Representative Kevin McCarthy to be Speaker of the House, and the Democrats nominate their guy, Rep. Hakeem Jefferies, and then they have a vote. Each time, 20 or so Republicans sit it out and they say, no, I’m voting for someone else. They’ve changed who they’re voting for, but they don’t vote for Kevin McCarthy.

Without their 20 votes, there isn’t a majority and there’s no speaker. And we just rinse and repeat.

So, who are these guys holding up America? Well, one of them is Chip Roy from Texas, a Republican. Chip and I probably don’t see eye to eye on many things, but I do appreciate his commentary on whether or not we are sabotaging America with this, so far, three-day process.

He said, “Do you think anybody in America right now is like, ‘oh my God, there’s not a speaker?’ We’re a body. We can go pass motions. We can do whatever. If there’s an emergency, we can do whatever we need to do.”

I think that’s probably true. I don’t think most Americans care — at least not yet.

I think that if there were something to be done, the opposition would probably quickly drop their opposition. One would hope.

But for those of us who are here, we care because we care about politics and we care about place. My theory is that the big thing that’s happening in politics is essentially the same thing that’s always happened with American politics: a battle between the North and the South. It’s really a cultural war. And right now the South is consistently winning in terms of people moving there. But the North is consistently winning in terms of moral superiority and insightful analysis.

And to that end, I believe a regional analysis of the opposition to McCarthy shows that he faces a revolt from the southern alliance of cultures — and no opposition from Republicans in the North.

Is this about the “Far Right?”

Who are the guys that are putting on the show here? And they’re mostly men by the way. Surprise they are described as far right, most of the time, far right group are this, is this the extreme right edge?

If we’re going to line up everybody in the house of Representatives from left to right, and the most socialist members on the left, and then these guys would be on the far right, I guess? Are they Trump backers? Are they election deniers? Are they all three?

We are going to talk about place. We’re going to set aside party. We’re gonna set aside even the states. In case you haven’t noticed, the states are fairly arbitrary. They are sharp, neat lines drawn on a continent sized country for the ease of administering a large nation. The state shapes don’t really do us a whole lot of good. We’re gonna talk about culture, which moves around and is fluid. What is the regional, which is to say the cultural, background of these 20 Republicans throwing the house into chaos?

Spoiler alert, the opposition is not coming from Massachusetts or really any place that we would consider the North.

In fact, you’re gonna see that the roll call of recalcitrant makes sense. A 90% match with what we would expect, perhaps even 100% when we drill down. That is, we would expect the opposition to come from the southern alliance of cultures.

Now, we’re gonna go a little bit beyond North versus South. It’s not 1861 anymore, despite commentary to the contrary. For this, we’re going to be referring to Colin Woodard’s classic book, American Nations. In case you haven’t picked up on it, that is the ground zero for this podcast. It’s a great book and it has a handy dandy map inside, which goes down to the county level, tracing what Woodard describes as 11 nations.

I don’t know that I’d call them “nations,” but he’s trying to get to the point that there’s at least 11 distinct regional cultures within the United States, Canada and Mexico. Don’t worry, we’re not gonna make you memorize 11 new nations like this is some sort of geography bee.

But if you want to understand American politics, the big contest is really between North and South. There are coalitions within each of those headings.

The Northern coalition

We already understand that the West Coast is the “Left Coast,” as Woodard calls it, because its politics are what we would call to the left. It’s in cultural/political alignment with the North, even if it goes way south geographically. From San Francisco north, it’s pretty much liberal politics in the same vein you would find in the Northeast, which would be “Yankeedom” or the Yankees, or as I like to call ’em, the Puritans. You know who I’m talking about.

These are the people who landed in Massachusetts. They were very strict about their rules and they really wanted to save man from sin. They are social reformers. And they marched east like most of the original colonies and founded what we would think of as the Northern United States. They are often joined these days by the Left Coast and by the Midlands, which came out of Pennsylvania. The Quakers settled Pennsylvania and they wanted to live and let live. They wanted everyone to do their own thing, which is going to be a good thing. We’ll all get along fine. It didn’t exactly work out any more than anyone else’s plans worked out.

You’ve also got New York in there, which is totally different. We’ve talked about that before in other episodes. But New York was founded by the Dutch. In case you haven’t noticed, New York City is unlike any other place in the United States.

Okay? That’s the north, right? Let’s talk about though the people with the spotlight right now. And guess what, they’re not to be found there.

Kevin McCarthy and the Far West

Kevin McCarthy is the guy who can’t get a break, not even in seven different ballots, as far as this writing. He is from California’s 20th district, which by the way is his third district. He’s moved around a little bit, seems a little odd. Maybe the powers that be in California are making life difficult for him. His current district is east of Fresno, avoids Bakersfield like it has COVID, wraps all the way around it. From space this district looks a bit like a toilet on fire, honestly. But no matter the number of the district or the amount of gerrymandering involved, McCarthy represents the “Far West.” I like to call it the “dry west” because, if the left coast is the coast, then how can far west can the far west be? Woodard calls it the Far West, though, so let’s go with it.

It’s what America thinks of as the West in its imagination with dusty towns and cowboys and shootouts. It’s the whole interior section that was founded right after the Civil War, with railroads and heavy equipment. It turns out you can’t actually run a farm like you do in Michigan in New Mexico. Settlement had to be assisted, if you will, by large corporations from the East coast and by the federal government.

And that governmenet was entirely Yankee, entirely northern, right after the Civil War. They were in charge and they went out there and they, you know, you can think of it as a colony, it’s a little colony of the East coast or the more populated eastern half of the United States. And because of that, the way politics work in the far west, which is where I grew up, is that you’re basically defining yourself against the federal government.

You don’t like them because they own everything and they tell you how to do things and you don’t have a lot of control locally. On the other hand, you need them to keep the money coming because everything you’re doing is reliant on the dams they built, the railroads they led in the electricity they’re providing they’re giving you permission to graze your cattle on their national forest land. So you are reliant and you are also upset with them. And during the period in the middle of the 20th century when you had unionized loggers, unionized railroad workers and minors they were fighting the man and they were Democrats and you had a lot of Democrats elected in the West because they were in opposition to the owning class, which were republicans today that has reversed in much of the West. And Kevin McCarthy is an example, right?

Like he is a Republican and he is sticking it to the powers that be in Washington state on behalf of the good people of not quite Fresno. And that occurs throughout the far west. So who, who is gonna oppose him? Well, the complaint against McCarthy as I understand it, is that he is too dictatorial. And we’re gonna talk a little about the history there cuz it’s a little ironic. And he’s too mainstream and he gets in and he interferes with these other folks elections or he doesn’t let him have a fair say and they basically just have to vote however he tells them. And they don’t like that. And there’s plenty of people from the far west who are opposing him, particularly from Arizona, which is a, you know, boy, we could spend time on Arizona cause it’s a special place.

Rep. Eli Crane

And guess what, you know, it was one of the last states led into the union. So amongst the anti McCarthy crowd the Freedom Caucus is another word for these folks, by the way, is Representative Eli Crane from District 2. His district would be what we call the far west, right, what we just talked about. But it also borders on what Woodard calls El Norte. And we should introduce El Norte real quick because basically you’re talking northern Mexico that culture, Mexico used to go a lot farther north than it did now, and than it does now. And since the US took over some of that territory, particularly in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona there’s still an existing Hispanic culture there that’s dominant not just like a minority, but the dominant governing culture. And Eli’s district bumps up against that, interestingly, and I not, I think coincidentally he defeated a, a Republican in the most recent election, Tom O’Halloran.

And Halloran was a conservative. Again, Arizona is not gonna be quite like Maine and O Hallen was a, I think it was member of the Blue Dogs or something. But anyway, point it was, he’s not like, he was not a liberal by any means, but he still got ousted by Crane. And by the way, crane was endorsed by Trump. He’s a former Navy Seal, which is like, I dunno, it’s like a new kind of candidate is the ex-military candidate. You see a lot of it. And we’re gonna talk about that. And he was CEO of a business that was featured on Shark Tank. So look at that. He’s a seal who swam with the sharks and ended up in Congress.

Rep. Paul Gosar

Also joining in the opposition from Arizona as Paul Gosar, no relation to the character from the 1984 film Ghostbusters.

He represents District 9, which is a north south strip of West Arizona. So again, most far west with some of this El Norte, right? So, and if you think of it as cultural dynamics, and you’ve got a couple Republicans here who are probably representing the Far West, but having to overcome opposition in Norte or get some allies in that culture in El Norte and get, get some buy-in in order to cement their status. And goer Goza, I don’t know he previously represented two other districts, much like McCarthy. He’s been moved around. He represented the first and the fourth. And he is a interesting character in that he started as a Tea Party Republican and knocked out a Democrat, much like crane. And then he decided he was going to go into the fourth district nearby, and he rented an apartment there.

And it included part of his old district, you know, these districts, they like keep part of the district when they redraw them and then they add some stuff. And this is another one of those weird gerrymandering things. But the point is that it’s not clear that Goza ever lived in the next two districts. He, as I understand it mostly lives in Lakes Flagstaff, when he is in Arizona. But, and that’s in Crane’s District. But there’s not actually like a constitutional requirement for us representatives to live in the district they represent.

That’s bizarre to me. I don’t, I guess I just took it as a given that you would have to be like a local kid in order to win the support of your constituents, or at least, you know, have done a lot of like adult work there. You started a local business and now you’re gonna run for Congress. But in this case it’s not clear that goer even lives in that district. He does seem to have connections to the Proud Boys just to keep this interesting train going.

And he’s actually stripped of his committee assignments in November of 21 because he posted a video on social media depicting himself as an anime character, attacking other characters with the superimposed faces of AOC and Joe Biden. Okay, bad meme for him. No more committee assignments. Far West.

Reps. Lauren Boebert and Matt Rosendale

Also weighing in from the far west is a lady from Colorado, which as you may mention is part of the West. Lauren Boebert and Matt Rosendale from Montana,. Again, we’re staying the same cultural area. Colorado, Montana, Northern Arizona interior of California, doesn’t matter. It’s all part of that big cultural block known as the far west or the dry west.

It’s the west. Okay, interesting. The Montana used to have two seats, lost them, had one large seat, and just got back that second seat that is now occupied by one of the anti McCarthy Freedom Caucus. Far right folks. But you can see now that there’s a good chunk of the Far West involved here. Now, the far west was not, again, really existent during the US Civil War when we talk about north versus south. But over time, just as the left coast has become a major ally of the classic north, the far west has in many ways become a strong ally of the classic south. And there’s a whole book about it called Hell the South Won the Civil War, where the author’s theory is that you kind of have like, the image of the cowboy helps rehabilitate the southern approach to Americanism.

I don’t know if I buy that, but there’s a, you want to check it out, you can check it out because now we’re moving on. That’s the Far West as represented in the anti McCarthy group.

Greater Appalachia

How about Greater Appalachia? You know what the Appalachians are, right? Hillbillies with their whiskey and their moonshine, they’re still on TV wearing nice overalls and driving nice trucks, but for some reason still being chased around by the cops for their moonshine. These are the folks that came over and they’re very important to understanding the current state of American politics. This culture came from the border between Scotland and England and Ireland and, and the Northern Ireland area, way back on the eve of the American Revolution, late 17 hundreds. And for hundreds of years, the people that lived on those borders got to do the fighting between Scotland and England or between England and Ireland, or Scotland and Ireland or anybody.

They did all the, the, they got to do the fighting cuz they got to live on the border between the combatants and developed over that time a very hard charging, aggressive culture that values dynamic leadership, that values winning, that values risk taking. And they’re willing to follow you if you are winning and they are hostile to outsiders. And you just, you know, the type and there’s a, you can go back and read listen to another podcast that we did on the noose civil war almost a year ago, talking about the eerie connection between that culture and Donald Trump. Donald Trump’s from New York. He’s like a, a rich guy from downtown New York, but he is very good at playing the tough talking general limo kind of character that Appalachian support. I mean Lyndon Johnson was a democrat. Andy came from the Appalachian section of Texas and he was very hard charging and, you know, had a enormous reputation for cornering senators and badgering them into doing what he wanted to do, you know, might be nice and public, but aggressive and what do we wanna say demanding as a politician.

And guess what, these are the, this is the majority of that anti McCarthy movement as you might expect. Who’s going to stand up and say no, did a no no, cause a huge national dispute, not care at all, like Chip Roy and just say, well, I don’t think anybody’s worried, so we’re gonna just sit and have this fight for a while. That’s the Appalachians. And they are strongly represented in that 20 vote count.

Reps. Andy Ogles and Andrew Clyde

You’ve got Andy Ogles from Tennessee that the, the districts centered on Nashville, Nashville, Tennessee, 100% Appalachian and culture. Andrew Clyde, district nine, he where he’s from Georgia, right? So you might think Georgia is mostly deep south, but if you look at the cultural map again, you’re gonna see that the Appalachian Mountains where these folks, cuz they skipped over the cities, they were not entirely welcome. Plus they didn’t like the crowding and the taxes.

So they moved into the Appalachian Mountains and moved south and then west. So they actually occupy that northern bit of Georgia is Appalachian territory, and Andrew Clyde is represents that area and he’s a part of the anti McCarthy group. He’s a naval veteran, a gun stone gun store owner. He voted against certifying the election results, one of 12 who voted against in Congress, who voted against awarding the Congressional gold medal to the Capitol police officers who resisted the January 6th storming of the Capitol. Now not long, we’re talking about Northern Georgia. Let’s talk about the irony of this complaint, because in fact, it was another Appalachian from northern Georgia, Newt Gingrich, who in 1995 helped the Republicans take back the house for the first time in like 40 years. He was very hard-charging, aggressive politician, and he imposed discipline on the Republicans and he stripped away some of the things they could do in the house as just a rank and file member.

If you just got elected to Congress under New Gingrich, you didn’t get to go and cut deals with the Democrats. You followed his orders because he was in charge and he wanted to lead the Republicans to victory. And those rules, which have helped the house, cut through some of the process, cut down on some of the dissent and just have blocked votes. Republicans versus Democrats all come from Newt Gingrich. And so it’s kind of ironic that Newt Gingrich’s cultural people, the Appalachians are the ones who are done with that now and are leading a revolt because again, they, they may like to tell other people how it is, but they do not like people telling them how it is.

And it’s, to me anyway, it’s pretty clear that they’re just this small group. We’re not like all of them everywhere. Every person from Kentucky feels this way. But in this group you can see a strong flavor of that culture and yes, it may have worked when they were on top, but they don’t like it when they’re on bottom.

Reps. Josh Brecheen and Mary Miller

Also in the Appalachian group as Josh Brecheen. He’s from Oklahoma District 2. Eastern Oklahoma was also settled by these, these folks as was northern Texas.

Here’s a surprise for you. This is one of two people we could argue is actually from what we’d call the North and the Civil War, this Mary Miller from Illinois District 15. But guess what, that again is the state map. And yes, Illinois does, the Chicago tells it to do in Chicago is a different culture, but mo the majority of the land mass Southern Illinois is Appalachian. And so Mary Miller, although she may be from Illinois, I would say culturally speaking, is not out of line.

If you’re gonna count the Appalachians as part of the southern block of culture, then she’s squarely in it. She was born in Oak Park, by the way, which is a pretty towny neighborhood of Illinois. Or I think it’s actually a city next to Chicago. Sorry. eh, but then she went to Eastern Illinois University and head of conversion, I guess.

Reps. Chip Roy and Keith Self

Texas. Now, as you can imagine, a lot of the attitude we think of when we think about it, Texan has a lot of that warrior culture that you sense in the Appalachian society, but they’ve got other, they’ve also got big chunks of El Norte there as you get close to Mexico. And as you know, they were part of the Civil War and the se the Deep Southern culture, that planter culture, the one that we think of with all the slaves and the guys in white suits on the porch and all of that, the, which does not have a good reputation in the north.

That culture made it all the way into southeast Texas. But there are a few Texan Appalachians in this cadre.

You’ve got Keith sell he’s a new guy but he is from the areas north northeast of Dallas, and that has been Appalachian territory forever. We have Chip Roy who we mentioned before. He’s in a classically gerrymandered district that it kinda looks like the state of Massachusetts. It might be the same size for all I know. It, it looks like a little peninsula attached to a rectangle. And the southern end of that Eastern peninsula touches suburban San Antonio. And then it runs all the way up to suburban Austin and it’s weighted by this big rectangular blob to the west. But it’s Appalachian again, same character. And you know, not only does it name like Chip Roy, can I conjure an image, at least it does to me.

He’s the former chief of staff to Ted Cruz, interestingly enough. So there you go.

Those are the Appalachians, they’re a big chunk here.

El Norte and Rep. Andy Biggs

El Norte, as we’ve discussed several times now, this is an important culture in the United States always has been, but the population there is growing and it’s becoming obviously more and more important to be able to win support or somehow deal with El Norte in the contest for national power.

Rep. Andy Biggs from Arizona who was one of their nominees for speaker, obviously not successful, but somebody they threw out there. He’s from the suburbs southeast of Phoenix, which according to our map would put him squarely in El Norte. Interesting fact about him. He’s fluent in Japanese. He was also chair of the Freedom Caucus in 2019 and he was one of only two representatives to vote against an 8.3 billion emergency aid package intended to help fight Covid.

He called it “larded up and bloated.” So why would a guy from El Norte be part of this group? I’m not, I really kinda wanna dig into this one cuz it could be that it’s just like, Hey, I don’t like the cut of these, these folks and your he’s harnessing some of that far West am animosity towards the federal government and playing it successfully in the suburbs of Phoenix, which maybe you have more of a far west character. That’s one possibility. Another is that like the district was shaped to set him up. I’m not entirely sure.

We will keep brushing up against El Norte and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think some of these dynamics are politicians who have somehow found a way to win in districts that butt up against El Norte, have some of that voting block. Either they are ginning up the opposition culture by doubling down, driving up the base thing — or they’re winning hearts and minds. I don’t have time to do all the analysis right now, but it’s a question worth asking.

The Midlands and Rep. Scott Perry

Okay, here’s, here’s a mystery for us. We talked about the lady from Illinois, which is not really mysterious since she represents Appalachian territory. The only other person that we could say came from the North would be Rep. Scott Perry, who is from District 10 in Pennsylvania.

According to our map, he’s from the Midlands — the Quakers, middle America, the live and let live folks, the pacifists. They started out as pacifists, anyway. They’re not all pacifists, obviously. This guy is a retired US Army National Guard, brigadier general. You certainly wouldn’t expect them to have like a really recalcitrant, argumentative person as their representative. I would be curious to know more about this guy.

Scott Perry was a subject of interest, shall we say, for the committee investigating the January 6th Capitol attack. He’s a member of the Second Amendment caucus. He just doesn’t seem to fit the mold I have in my mind. So, either this is a failure of the cultural model to predict things, or it could be evidence of movement. Colin Woodard’s map, I think, is from 2013. And guess what? Scott Perry’s district borders Appalachian territory.

The Scots Irish came over and their first stop was actually southern central Pennsylvania, just to the west of the Harrisburg area where Scott Perry represents now. Could he represent an expansion of Appalachian territory in the last 10 years? Perhaps you have folks that might have seen their political culture more influenced by the Midlands, a moderate approach, who are now under the influence of a more aggressive culture. Question mark? Could be. I think it might be. Perry is one of the two examples that you might not have expected when we’re talking about a 90% success rate predicting membership in the anit-McCarthy caucus.

If you aren’t picking up on it by now, we would expect everyone in this “hard right” category to actually be “hard south.” You would expect them to be from the Far West, Appalachia or the Deep South.


There’s one little asterisk to that and that’s Tidewater. Tidewater is basically the South, but it’s the prestigious, noble part of the South . You see, the Southerners weren’t all the same, as much as we like to say.

Deep Southern culture was founded by planters who actually came to the United States via Barbados. They were English planters who went to Barbados, developed some pretty diabolical agricultural practices based on slave labor and dehumanizing people, and then spread that across the south from South Carolina through to East Texas.

Above them was another, another admittedly slave-owning culture, but known for a sort of nobles oblige. The Tidewater area, AKA Virginia and parts of Maryland, included the folks who we have a real hard time, resolving in our American mind. They’re people like George Washington who clearly had phenomenal ideas about the right of humans to choose their own destiny through their government, while at the same time denying the right of other humans to choose their destiny by holding them as slaves.

Reps. Andy Harris and Bob Good

And representing that area. Tidewater and a bit of the Midlands is Andy Harris of Maryland. Maryland by the way was, you know, with the north on the Civil War, but not it was a slave holding state. And Harris just seems like a particularly conservative folk person from Tidewater. I did not see anything particularly bizarre in his background, but he is extremely he’s more recalcitrant than you might expect from the good people of Tidewater, if you wanna call him good people. And I’m not saying they’re bad. Let’s see also from the Tidewater areas, Bob Good from District five, which directly straddles the border between Tidewater territory and Appalachians, like he’s going right down the middle. Half the district in Appalachia, half in Tidewater, it was historically Tidewater.

Get this, Bob Good sits in the Fifth Congressional District. Its first representative in Congress was James Madison, who defeated James Monroe in their first congressional election. Madison and Monroe would go on to become president, the fourth and fifth president of the United States.

Fascinating, going from James Madison and James Monroe to the venerable Bob Good, who voted against Kevin McCarthy.

Moving on to Dan Bishop. Dan Bishop is from North Carolina, district nine. Now his district is kind of a weird mix of all three of these things. You’ve got Tidewater, as we talked about the, the, the noble part of the deep south or the noble part of the south. Then you just have the straight up deep south in his district and Appalachia. So that bit of North Carolina is where all three of these things touch all three cultures. And interestingly, Bishop was the author of North Carolina’s famous bathroom bill. That was way back in the day when the transgender fight was just heating up and it prohibited transgender people from using public restrooms other than those of the biological sex as defined by their birth certificates. And didn’t that make the NBA mad? I think he got in trouble with the NBA over that. All right, so that’s tide water.

The Deep South, Reps. Ralph Norman, Matt Gaetz, Anna Paulina Luna and Michael Cloud

And we’re gonna move on down to the Deep South we’ve been talking about. If the stereotypical Northerner is a Yankee out of the New England area, then the stereotypical Southerner has gotta be somebody from the deep south.

Here we find Reps. Ralph Norman and Matt Gaetz, a real rebel-rouser from the panhandle of Florida.

You also have Anna Paulina Luna from District 13 in Florida. Her district is centered around St. Petersburg. This is the same district that Charlie Crist represented before he ran for governor against Ron DeSantis. And we did a whole episode on Ron DeSantis. So this lady took a seat from the Democrats in the Deep South and one that was held by a well-known Democrat. I think her Wikipedia entry says she was also the first Mexican American representative Republican representative from Florida, something like that.

And moving back over to Texas, Michael Cloud’s district looks to me like it was an attempt to keep the Deep South in control of an area that brushed up against El Norte. El Norte keeps coming up, like they’re trying to keep it from calling all the shots. This district in Texas, Michael Cloud’s district, looks a bit like it was drawn to help him win. In fact, in 2017 a panel of federal judges ruled that that district was unconstitutional because it displaced a Hispanic opportunity district. But the US Supreme Court later reversed that ruling. Ms. Michael Michael Cloud’s district.

Off the map – Rep. Brian Donald

But now we’re gonna go a little deeper because we’ve gotta talk about one more thing. And that is Brian Donald, who was from District 19 in Florida. He was actually nominated for speaker a few times and didn’t win obviously, but it was historic in that that made him a black man being nominated for Speaker of the House by the Republicans against a black man being nominated for Speaker of the House by the Democrats. Historic moment. And who does he represent? District 19 is off the map. If you look at the American Nations map, which we’ve been referring to this whole time, Southern Florida is unlike any place in the United States literally.

When you start getting down to that very tip of Florida, around the Miami area, all bets are off. It’s more similar, according to Woodard, to the Spanish Caribbean. And I would like to see that firsthand actually, and to see what’s going on. This district was created in the 1990s. It was held by Democrats up until 2012, and then the Republicans started winning. And the odd thing is that it was a complete flip. The Democrats were winning by 60-plus percent and then suddenly the Republicans were winning by 60-plus percent. Does this mean that the Deep South, like we talked about maybe with the seat in Pennsylvania, has actually moved south a notch and this is now what we’d call a deep southern seat?

Maybe things have changed a little bit in the last 10 years and things have crept. If so, then you’ve got exactly what you’d expect in this analysis. The opposition to Kevin McCarthy is entirely from these southern alliance cultures.

I don’t know for sure. I have not studied the very south of Florida that much, to understand exactly how those dynamics work. But maybe Brian Donald cracked some other code.

But there you go. That’s the roundup. And I hope that you you learned something today because I definitely learned something looking at this, which is — yes, place can definitely help you understand politics.

Are these folks far right? Yes, they are. Does that really help you understand where they’re coming from? A tiny bit. To me it’s far more useful to say, these folks are all representative of an extreme edge of cultures that are in opposition to the Northern Democrats.

Nowhere on this list did we come across moderates from Wisconsin. There’s nobody on Hawaii from this list. There’s nobody from Alaska on this list. There’s nobody from Maine, right? These are folks who are coming from regions we would expect to be as far away culturally from say, New York City or Boston, as you could possibly be. And when we look at it that way, I think we have a better understanding of what’s going on there.

Does it tell us how things are gonna be resolved? No, except, to the degree those Appalachians are hung up on not being dictated to by leadership.

You might see where the concessions are going to be in order for them to come around and support somebody. If it’s McCarthy or anyone else, they’re gonna have to have a longer leash or I don’t see this happening. You’d have to go the other way and round up the Republicans from places like Wisconsin and Minnesota.

No, I’m not even gonna go there. I was like, could you cut a deal with the Democrats? That’s not gonna happen. So I expect that the cultural brokerage that’s gonna have to happen is that the Far West is gonna have to agree to give Appalachia more say, if we’re gonna put it that way.

4 responses to “Kevin McCarthy’s speakership is blocked, but by where?”

  1. It looks like the Appalachian opposition collapsed but the Far West was able to hold out.


  2. On the last few ballots, it looks like the Appalachian opposition collapsed while the Far West was able to hold out.


    1. Just so. It’s pretty fascinating. I wonder what the exact concessions requested vs given were. I’ll have to look, but I would propose that the Appalachians wanted more autonomy in general, and the Far West folks wanted something specific — perhaps projects in their districts?


  3. The statements I heard in the news from the hold outs had to do with the national budget, deficit and national debt. The battle was for reduction in taxes and spending. Enough of the holdouts got the concessions they wanted and the speaker was elected. Now the next fight will be over reducing spending in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. There will have to be more negotiating and compromise. A democracy has to work by bargaining to come to a majority coalition, or it does not work at all and collapses, breaks apart, ppor goes into a civil war. War in 1861 resulted when no agreement could be reached. It could have been, but was not.


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