The irony is undeniable. Jim Jordan, star sign wingman, also failed in the second round of speaker elections in the House of Representatives. This is what happens “when bullying backfires,” says “Time” magazine. After all, Jordan belongs to the ranks of those Republican hardliners who have made saying no an art form and thus made compromise-oriented governance impossible in recent months. With ex-speaker Kevin McCarthy, the common denominator had already become a rarity. Under Jordan’s hammer blow, opposition would become the final factory setting.

One thing is certain: the power struggle in the Grand Old Party (GOP) is dragging on. The Republicans are going around in circles looking for themselves, missing the exit time and time again. As long as no one wields the gavel in the larger of the two chambers of Congress, the USA will remain politically paralyzed. And the clock is ticking – the interim budget is valid until November 17th. Then there is a threat of a shutdown.

Three scenarios as to what could happen next.

All good things come in threes. The ultra-right candidate should at least hope for that. But now it doesn’t look like Jordan will be able to get the necessary majority in a third round of voting. On Wednesday, the 59-year-old even received two fewer votes than in the first round the day before. 22 party colleagues refused to support him, a lot given the narrow majority. This time the headwind comes from the other corner, from the establishment, for which Jordan is too right-wing. Moderate MPs who know that a gavel-wielding wingman wouldn’t improve the situation. The result is Lindnerian thinking in Washington: Better not to govern at all than to govern incorrectly.

Nevertheless, Jordan can still be hopeful, as he has the most powerful advocate that a conservative in the USA can have in 2023. Former and possibly soon-to-be-re-President Donald Trump clearly supports his confidant. Trump’s influence in the party remains enormous, and his hardcore supporters know no bounds in their delusional over-zealousness. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks says she received death threats after defecting to the Anti-Jims. In any case, the pressure on Jordan’s opponents is growing. It remains questionable whether they will give in under this pressure or whether they will even resist.

Now Jordan could also take his hat out of the ring and follow the example of his colleague Steve Scalise. He withdrew his candidacy when it became clear that he would not be able to unite the GOP behind him.

If Jordan were to do the same, he might save himself and his party a lot of pain and humiliation. Because no one can want a second election debacle like in January, when McCarthy begged for votes in 15 rounds over four days. The principle of “trial and error”, the method of working your way up to the solution, may make sense in calmer times. In the fall of 2023, however, the conservatives’ nerves are not designed for this.

And so the party will probably struggle through a third, fourth, umpteenth round of voting and tear itself to pieces in the process. Because the trained Trumpist Jim Jordan hasn’t had enough. He believes he stands exactly where his possible predecessor McCarthy stood at the time – only that he had more time to get votes. What Jordan leaves out: If there’s one thing he’s missing more than the love of the middle, it’s time – keyword: November 17th.

Quite apart from that, the speaker position has now lost some of its appeal. The office was always considered the third most powerful position in Washington. But just the path to the top requires ideological flexibility and seriously sore knees these days. And even after that, the traditional speaking gavel can still fall painfully on the wearer’s feet. Because it is real, the danger of becoming the victim of the next mutiny.

The question arises: If neither Scalise nor Jordan – then who? Who could this terribly divided family even agree on? The hardliners find the moderates too left-wing; the moderates find the hardliners too right-wing.

That leaves option number three. The center right could escape the toxic relationship with the far right and seek a compromise with the Democrats. This could involve them rallying behind Patrick McHenry, who currently holds the acting speakership. However, he doesn’t have any real power. As a gap-filler, the inconspicuous man with the eye-catching bow tie sees himself primarily responsible for organizing the election of his successor, but that’s not much more than that.

The longer the Republican bickering drags on, the greater the chance that some of them will join forces with Democrats to give McHenry greater powers, at least temporarily. The Democrats are not averse – anything better than Jordan, that’s the tone. “It is time to end the Republican civil war, and to achieve that, all options must be on the table,” Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told US magazine Politico.

With temporary power, McHenry would be able to have votes taken. From a real political point of view, this makes perfect sense; after all, Congress is running out of time. New billions in aid are needed for Ukraine, Israel also wants to be supported and the specter of a shutdown hovers over everything. The budget dispute, which has only been postponed, must be resolved by mid-November – otherwise not only Congress but the entire US government will come to a standstill.

“Schadenfreude”. The German expression is also common in the USA, but the English language does not have its own term for this unpleasant but human emotion that is affecting left and right these days. Since the rebellion against McCarthy, the word has become indispensable for US commentators when they describe how irreconcilable not only Democrats and Republicans, but also Republicans and Republicans, are. Jim Jordan, as the majority of MPs are apparently sure, is not interested in solutions, he is part of the problem. The only question is whether the conservative center is prepared to put party welfare aside. From the right-wing perspective, a compromise would, as always, only be one thing: betrayal.

Quellen: “CBS News”; “New York Times”; “Washington Post”