Some of Congress' most right-wing members held a press conference yesterday to express their concerns for Jan. 6 rioters, but as HuffPost noted, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida raised a few eyebrows with a prediction about the near future.
"We are going to take power after this next election and when we do, it's not going to be the days of Paul Ryan and Trey Gowdy and no real oversight and no real subpoenas," Gaetz told a news conference.... "It's going to be the days of Jim Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Dr. [Paul] Gosar and myself doing everything to get the answers to these questions."
In context, the GOP congressman appeared to be referring to conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. In fact, at the same press conference, Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas suggested possible criminal charges against federal law enforcement agents — whom he believes were "trying to get people to engage in violence" on Jan. 6.
Gaetz added, "The notion that Republicans are going to take control of the House, and we're going to hold hands in the warm spring rain with the Democrats and legislate is ludicrous."
No one should be surprised if voters hear this rhetoric again in the coming months.
When one party controls the reigns of power, the other party invariably tries to turn the next election cycle into a referendum: "If you're not happy with the status quo," the minority tells voters, "vote for change."
The majority party, meanwhile, pushes back, preferring a choice to a referendum: "Don't compare us to perfection," the party in control says, "compare us to the alternative."
For Republicans, this creates a challenge. GOP leaders want — and by most measures, need — voters to see their party as a responsible institution that can be trusted with power.
But it's against this backdrop that a radical figure like Gaetz appeared before Capitol Hill reporters and said the days of Republicans like Paul Ryan and Trey Gowdy — very conservative figures in their own right — are over. Who's going to "take power"? It'll be the likes of Gaetz, Jordan, Taylor Greene, and Gosar in positions of influence.
Or put another way, a vote for congressional Republicans is a vote to empower the party's most radical members — according to the party's most radical members.
If Democrats were writing a script for folks like Gaetz to read, it'd look an awful lot like this.