A few days ago, congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) was fired as subcommittee chairman on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee by the Republican “leadership” in retaliation for his opposition to Obamatrade. Yesterday, after a nationwide outcry, he had a meeting with the committee chairman, Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and was reinstated.
This is being hailed among conservatives as a victory over Boehner. But I disagree. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that congressman Meadows did the wrong thing. He shouldn’t have accepted the position back. He should have said no. And here is why.
Reason 1: It’s Unseemly
Accepting back the position looks bad for two reasons. The first is that it makes it look like Meadows might have been compromised. In Washington, anytime there is a backroom discussion between members of congress, there’s trouble. And when Chaffetz comes out and talks about how he and Meadows understand each other much better now, it makes one question whether Meadows was asked to make any concessions to get his position back.
I should make it clear, I’m not saying that Meadows did make any concessions. In fact, he said that he will still never vote for Obamatrade. And although you can’t trust anyone in Washington, I don’t doubt him. My point is that it looks bad. It looks sleazy. It looks just like something that a politician would say, while doing something else.
That surely isn’t the image the Meadows intended to give. Which is why he should have said no.
Reason 2: It’s Inconsiderate
Continuing in the same theme, it looks inconsiderate for Meadows to accept back his position. He isn’t the only one who has been punished for “voting his conscience.” There were others who were fired for opposing Obamatrade as well. What about them? Don’t they deserve their positions back, too?
And let’s not forget, that this isn’t the first time that Boehner has retaliated. What about the others that he’s taken action against in the past? Why does Meadows get his position back, but they get crushed by the Washington Machine?
Again, this shows why it is unseemly for Meadows to accept back his position. Shouldn’t he show solidarity with his fellow rebels?
Certainly Meadows didn’t mean to be inconsiderate. Which is why he should have said no.
Reason 3: It’s Being a Puppet
By saying yes, Meadows has turned himself into a pawn, which can be fired and reinstated at will. He sacrificed his manhood, his independence, his value as an individual. He’s allowed himself to become a mere token, jostled around to apply or relieve political pressure on the establishment’s whim.
By saying yes, Meadows was saying that it is OK to fire him for voting with the people. “You can always come back and reinstate me if you need to, and we’ll all be friends again.”
Of course, that isn’t the message Meadows intended to send. Which is why he should have said no.
Reason 4: It’s Becoming Beholden
Further, by accepting his position back, Meadows has made himself beholden to Chaffetz and Boehner. They can now point to this as a down-payment on future political favors. And let’s face it, even if it is only subconsciously, one is bound to feel that way. It has the affect of forging a bit of a bond between Meadows and the leadership, at least psychologically.
This feeling is likely to go beyond just Meadows himself, but could easily effect others on his side of the issue.
Thus, by saying yes, Meadows may unintentionally be making it harder to rebel the next time. Which is why he should have said no.
Reason 5: It’s a Truce
This leads us to the biggest problem with saying “yes”: rather than wining ground, it only maintains the status quo.
Boehner and the House Leadership were under intense political pressure for their misdeeds. People are fed up with their “leadership,” which is why so many of them called Washington to demand that Meadows be reinstated. Boehner could feel another rebellion coming. So he made a cheap political move: he reinstated Meadows in hopes that it would release the pressure of the American people breathing down his back, and things could return to normal.
And return to “normal” they will. Boehner has already made that quite clear. There will be more punishments in the very near future. Some may already be on the way.
Of course, Meadows had no intention of surrendering to Boehner. Which is why he should have said no.
What Meadows Should Have Said
When he was approached by Chaffetz to offer his position back, Meadows should have replied something like this:
Representative Chaffetz, I’m sorry, but I can’t in good conscience accept the position back.
You must remember that I’m not the only one to be “punished” for my opposition to Obamatrade, and that this isn’t the first time that Boehner has retaliated against conservatives. I can’t accept my position back as long others will continue to be punished. And as far as I can tell, that will continue to happen as long as Boehner is in power.
Look, you and I both know that Boehner is only asking you to reinstate me because of the pressure from the American people. He hasn’t changed his tactics, nor will he. He’s just trying to maintain the status quo. But isn’t that what these people are really fed up with? The people who have been melting your phone lines don’t want to see you stop punishing conservatives. They don’t want to see the leadership start helping conservatives. Sir, they want to see the leadership start leading the conservative charge. That is what the leadership is supposed to do, after all.
But Boehner has demonstrated repeatedly that he isn’t capable of conservative leadership. So, the only way to fix this problem and relieve the tension for good, is if Boehner steps down as Speaker. By repeatedly attacking the freshmen Representatives who have been sent here on a clear mission, he has demonstrated his unworthiness of that position. And by joining with him in that, you have shown yourself unworthy of chairing this committee. If you ask me, sir, the right thing for you to do isn’t to reinstate me. The right thing for you to do is to step down, and show Boehner the way. That’s the only thing that my constituents deserve, and I will accept nothing less.
In conclusion, I’d like to make something very clear: I’m not attacking Mark Meadows. I’m not saying that he’s traitor, or worse, a RINO. I’m saying this: like many people in Congress, Meadows is willing to fight the leadership, but he doesn’t know how to beat them. And let’s be clear: this was a fight. But it wasn’t a victory. Neither side won, because nothing has changed. The status quo and Boehner’s power are preserved. This isn’t a win, it’s resistance. And I applaud Mark Meadows for resisting. I only wish that he’d gone beyond that, and done more than just resist. I wish he’d called their bluff. I wish he’d have said no. Then maybe we would have had more than resistance. Maybe we’d have won.