Ross: House speaker vote isn’t ‘chaos,’ this is just democracy in action

Jan 4, 2023, 8:07 AM | Updated: 9:19 am
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks after a closed-door meeting with the GOP C...

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks after a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference as he pursues the speaker of the House role when as the 118th Congress convenes, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Like all of you, I was riveted to the live coverage of the vote for speaker of the House, especially when I saw the banner headline on CNN, which read: ‘Chaos in GOP after McCarthy loses third speaker vote’

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But the more I watched, the more that headline ticked me off because when you look at the actual picture of the floor of the House, what do you see? Do you see chaos? No! You see people in groups engaged in vigorous conversation.

One of the rebel Republican holdouts who refused to vote for Kevin McCarthy is Representative Chip Roy of Texas, who explained why.

“But it begins and ends for me with being able to say no to the powers that be in this town deciding everything for us. Take Ukraine, for example; why didn’t we just have a separate vote on Ukraine?” Roy said. “I support supporting Ukraine, but I want to actually have accountability. Know it’s paid for, know where it’s going, and I want it to be separate. That’s the way it’s supposed to work from the old school ‘schoolhouse rock video’ we’re supposed to get down and debate it. Let’s vote on Ukraine.”

Now there’s a rebel who sounds perfectly reasonable.

So why would CNN call the process “chaos”?

You could call it horse trading, maybe. Deal-making, arm-twisting – but chaos implies there’s something wrong going on. When in fact, this is exactly how democracy is supposed to work.

Representatives enter the chamber peacefully, without breaking windows or threatening to hang anybody. They vote in person and by name (making fraud impossible), and if no one wins a majority, they vote again until someone does.

“This is how the sausage is made. It’s happening in real-time,” Roy exclaimed. “We’re actually having a real debate with 435 people on the floor of the house. Oh my gosh.”

This is not chaos, this is the very definition of order!

And the reason CNN’s “Chaos” headline ticks me off is, number one, it’s not accurate, but even worse, it lets Putin and his pals tell their people – “You see? American democracy is in chaos again.”

So, could we go with the more accurate headline? Which would be: “No Speaker elected yet; we’ll let you know when one is. Until then, remain calm.”

Although I admit if that had been the headline, I probably wouldn’t have tuned in.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: House speaker vote isn’t ‘chaos,’ this is just democracy in action