In my column last week, I discussed a few potential candidates who could potentially replace Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House after his historic removal from the speakership last Tuesday. But there was one candidate that I neglected to address: Jim Jordan. Jordan, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and notorious conservative firebrand from Ohio, is one of two declared Republican candidates vying for the speaker’s gavel, the other being House Majority Leader Steve Scalise. As Jordan’s support continues to grow within the House Republican Conference, Americans need to be worried about the potential disaster of a Jordan speakership.
So why do I jump to such a conclusion when he hasn’t even been elected Speaker yet? Well, let’s start with his record. Jordan has established himself as one of the most conservative members of Congress of the 21st century, most notably evidenced by his earning of a 100% rating from the American Conservative Union for a record 14 straight years. But conservative is the wrong word to define Jordan, as this makes him seem respectable. Simply put, Jordan is a far-right ideologue who is more known for controversial statements and not wearing a suit jacket than passing meaningful legislation. This was emphasized when he became a founding member and the inaugural chair of the House Freedom Caucus, the most extreme faction of the House Republican Conference and Congress as a whole. As first chair of the caucus, he led the charge that ultimately led to John Boehner’s resignation in 2015 and became known as a “legislative terrorist” who rallied against the Republican establishment and “business as usual.”
But perhaps the most concerning part of Jordan’s ideology is his unwavering support of Donald Trump. Jordan has established himself as one of Trump’s most stalwart and loyal defenders. This was put on full display in 2020 as Jordan fiercely pushed Trump’s false and delusional claims of fraud following the presidential election and even provided a legal theory to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows arguing that Mike Pence had the authority to not certify the election. This cemented Jordan as one of the fiercest Trump loyalists in Congress, rivaled only by the wicked witch of West Georgia Marjorie Taylor Greene. As a reward for his spineless bootlicking, Trump awarded Jordan with an almighty “complete and total endorsement” of his candidacy that will likely rally the Freedom Caucus behind him in his bid for the speakership.
If elected, Jordan would easily be the most ideologically extreme speaker in American history and would be the crowning achievement of the Freedom Caucus’ blaze of destruction. Unlike McCarthy, who was continually at war with his uber-conservative colleagues and at least attempted to reduce their influence, Jordan would amplify the voices of the most ideological representatives in the House. He would give these members the platform to spew misinformation and fearmonger voters in a way that Fox News can only dream of. Despite not even making up a majority of the House Republican Conference, the Freedom Caucus would become the most powerful caucus in the House, as they finally would have a speaker who is one of them.
In terms of policy, Americans should expect very little. Jordan has shown little willingness to work with his Democratic colleagues during his tenure and I wouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon. Passing any sort of meaningful legislation is going to be an absolute dog fight, especially when the temporary 45-day spending Band-Aid expires soon. Emboldened and encouraged by their supportive leader, conservative rabble-rousers are likely to push forward an impeachment inquiry against Joe Biden just because they can and pursue an investigation of Hunter Biden so that Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity have something to talk about on their shows. Recent polling has shown that a majority of Americans oppose such an impeachment inquiry, but who can be that surprised that Republicans would ignore what the public thinks? The legislation and actions taken under a Jordan speakership would only serve the purpose of pleasing their all-powerful endorsement giver and providing material for the Fox News outrage machine, all at the expense of the American people.
With all that said, it’s important to note that Jordan does not have the votes yet to win the speakership. The battle between him and Scalise of who will ultimately lift the gavel still has a long way to go. If Jordan emerges victorious, Americans should expect big changes in the House of Representatives. A Jordan victory would embolden the far-right more than they ever have been before by giving them control of one of the most powerful legislative bodies in the world. I can’t see any scenario where there are any net positives of Speaker Jim Jordan – unless Bill Hader revives his hilarious impression of him on Saturday Night Live.