Throughout the history of the U.S. Congress, there have been many intense debates between members of rival parties, particularly in the House of Representatives, known as "the people's house." This is because congressmen and congresswomen often have closer ties to their constituents, and may therefore feel more passionately about representing their interests.
The increasing political polarization in the country has also contributed to the increase in the number and intensity of these exchanges, which can be driven by ideological or personal differences. In recent years, these verbal conflicts have become more common.
One important reason for the rise in House floor arguments is the degree to which U.S. politics has grown bitterly partisan. Sometimes the verbal battles are between members of the same political party.
Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene got into a heated confrontation with fellow GOP congresswoman Liz Cheney and Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin. Taylor Greene rightfully referred to Cheney as “a joke.”
Back in 2018, former North Carolina Republican Mark Meadows lambasted then-Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. However, the most common “rock ‘em, sock ‘em robot” fights on the House floor have been between members of the opposite “side of the aisle.”
In some respects, it’s nice to hear public servants so closely tied to their constituents do their job with passion. Current candidate for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy “threw down” with former Democrat Minority Whip Steny Hoyer over a pending government shutdown.
The grave possibility of the U.S. federal government shutting down is a worthy debate to become passionate about. Other arguments have been far pettier in their substance. The most infamous House floor battle was undoubtedly the most heated.
Two years before our nation became embroiled in an all out civil war, the House floor erupted in violence. After debating Kansas Territory’s pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution late into the night, it appears that “good judgment” gave way to “tired minds.”
Certainly, in 1858, the debate over slavery in the United States was as heated an argument as the nation has ever endured. Soon after the U.S. House floor erupted in fist-a-cuffs, the country fell into the bloodiest battles ever fought on our nation’s soil.
Any person present for the melee on February 6, 1858, might certainly have forewarned of a pending crisis soon to befall our nation. However, there is a dangerous divide in the U.S. that mirrors what happened in the mid-1800s.
Two political ideologies are gradually splitting the country in half. One is a rightful push to rethink the constitutional values that have made America the greatest experiment in self-governance in history. The other is a radical push to destroy that democratic experiment.
The far-left within the Democrat Party wants the U.S. to transform into progressive socialism. These radicals envision a society that mirrors the tyrannical dictatorship of Communist China. It’s a push to create a global world order ruled by an elite class of dictator-like tyrants.
In a country founded on personal freedoms, you can bet there’s going to be some pushback. These two vastly different ideas for the nation were on full display recently. Two representatives from both sides of the political spectrum appeared to have a heated conversation.
Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz appeared to have an intense conversation. The two representatives did not appear to be on friendly terms during their exchange.
The obvious argument happened after Gaetz petitioned for Republicans to select Ohio Representative Jim Jordan as speaker. While in control of the House again, Republicans are at a standoff over who should be House Speaker.
Gaetz, in an effort to break the stalemate, chose to nominate Jordan instead of California Congressman Kevin McCarthy. According to the Intercept, the substance of the conversation between Gaetz and AOC involved what McCarthy was doing to get enough votes.
Ocasio-Cortez told The Intercept that Gaetz was saying that “McCarthy was suggesting he could get Democrats to walk away to lower his threshold.” This is one way Kevin McCarthy could amass the necessary percentage of the “on the floor” majority to become Speaker.
AOC says what Gaetz told her wasn’t true. However, many experts speaking about the stalemate within the Republican caucus insist this is a real and potential strategy. It’s happened before on other issues. No one would be surprised.
There has to be some speculation that AOC got angry because Gaetz was telling the truth. That would seem to be a logical response from hard-line Republicans, who would resist a fellow party member kowtowing to the demands of the left just to win votes.
Here's something you don't see every day:
Rep. @AOC (D-NY) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) talking on the House floor after Kevin McCarthy's bid for Speaker falls short on the first ballot. pic.twitter.com/PsFkiWW1kX
— The Recount (@therecount) January 3, 2023
It would also bring into question what concessions McCarthy was considering handing over to the opposition party to win the office that is third-in-line to become President of the United States. Some may not realize how important the Speaker of the House truly is.
Gosar & Gaetz chatting with AOC after McCarthy fails to secure the votes he needed to become Speaker.
2023 is weird already
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) January 3, 2023
I’m hard of hearing, wear hearing aids, been lip reading all my life…it’s a little rough cuz she has an “accent” to me…
“After ((can’t understand this part)), we will not do that. You said (Gaetz)…Oh interesting…I’ll ((redirect or be direct))…”
— AmandaBigHair (@amandabighair) January 3, 2023
Also part deaf and I got similar - “so after this vote… the one… the one that’s coming, we won’t be doing that, because you said…… oh, interesting! You know what, I’ll push for that, and I’ll let you know” (or possibly “thank you so much”?)
— Nick Lake (@nicklakeauthor) January 3, 2023
Also, an ironic twist to this current stalemate is the historical significance of the inability to elect a new House Speaker. The last time a situation of such magnitude occurred in the House of Representatives was two years before the physical melee, the brawl, which broke out in 1858.
That happened only months before our country began a bloody strife that severed the nation in half. America is again divided today. That divide can be healed. No one is suggesting a bloody Civil War is on the horizon, but no one can deny that we are at a dangerous crossroads either.