Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to step down as speaker and from the Congress at the end of October sets in motion a series of possible scenarios which have been widely discussed now in the media. None of the analysts are offering especially constructive prospects specifically from those focused on governance. It is worth noting, however, that there has been little comment made concerning the possible consequence of a more conservative Republican leadership in the House to the future of U.S. foreign policy.
Many of those who were instrumental in the Boehner ousting have very close Tea Party sympathies if not affiliations. This represents a group that at a minimum leans toward an isolationist direction in international affairs. In addition to their concerns about the cost of greater American global involvement as well as reflecting the overall malaise within the country for further military engagements, many Tea Party sympathizers are disinclined to involve America in dealing with global problems that do not directly impact on U.S. safety and security. This will impact on Latino citizens, supporters of humanitarian initiatives to help Middle East refugees, as well as those determined to stop—even forcefully–any Iranian violations of the nuclear agreement.
With respect to the larger aspect of governing within the Congress itself, it would seem to be critical for the Democrats and their leadership to maintain a constructive posture; regardless of the futility of such efforts. The Congressional Democratic Party as well as the President will need to let the Republican Party play out its obstructionist role—should that be the direction it takes.
If the new Republican House leadership ultimately succumbs to a government shutdown, Democratic presidential candidates as well as Democratic Congress Members must avoid being dragged into a donnybrook with the GOP. If they can take the high road it might enable them to ride their conduct to positive result with voters in the November 2016 elections. If they get dirtied playing ugly blame games now or in a December pre-Christmas shutdown, they will not gain any advantage. For the Republicans, they could disrupt their presidential aspirations in 2016 if the public views their candidates lining up in support of an obstructionist Congress which inevitably will capitulate to a Democratic President.