By Robert A. Vella

If the resignation of John Boehner from both his position as Speaker of the House and from his seat in Congress seemed surprising or even shocking to you, this new development in political dysfunction might make you wonder if the wheels are starting to come off the Republican Party if not the entire democratic process in Washington, D.C.  Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the GOP Establishment’s #2 man in the House and heir apparent to Boehner, has unexpectedly withdrawn his name from the Speaker’s race.

Although McCarthy’s stunning admission that the House Select Committee on Benghazi existed simply to damage Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers (the Democratic Party presidential front-runner for 2016) had angered many Tea Party members in the Republican caucus, the fracture lines between that right-wing faction and the party establishment might have already made his run for the speakership untenable as The Nation’s John Nichols described:

House majority leader Kevin McCarthy’s abrupt exit from the race for the House speakership, coming shortly after John Boehner’s only slightly less abrupt decision to quit the job, confirms that the Speaker’s post as defined by the House Republican Caucus is no longer meaningful and that this Republican-led House of Representatives is no longer functional.

These two realities, even if they are rarely acknowledged by political and media elites, tell us more about the sorry state of the Republican Party than anything that is happening in an admittedly awkward and unsettling race for the party’s presidential nomination.

A party that once engaged in the hard work of governing—with a sense of responsibility, and often with success—is now so at odds with the very idea of functional governance that it struggles to contribute anything more than the word “no.”

Boehner’s plan to exit at the end of October, and McCarthy’s inability even to pick up the outgoing Speaker’s broken baton, represents another triumph for an extremist inclination that has redefined the party’s congressional and presidential politics. This inclination is more anarchical than traditional, more cutthroat than conservative.

It does not really matter who wins what Congressman Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, calls a “brand new race for speaker.” The Republican Party’s mayhem has become so debilitating that the mayhem now defines the position more than the occupant.

The Grand Old Party has become the Party of Chaos. And the extent of that chaos—as evidenced by the inability of its House caucus to manage the speakership—offers a profound measure of the extent to which the Republican Party has abandoned its founding promise and its historical mission.

With the GOP’s handpicked replacement for Boehner now out of the picture, the race for Speaker of the House is certain to be even more contentious than previously thought, and the likelihood of right-wing extremist ascendancy in that vitally important legislative body just became much more real.

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