Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
January 7, 2023
After a delay of four days and 15 votes, Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) finally was elected the 55th Speaker of the House late night of January 6th, 2023. To be specific, he was elected in the very early morning of January 7, 2023. His record of success could only be matched by a similar case more than 100 years. The confidence of US democracy was evident by putting this show on live TV for anyone who is interested in watching.
But a century ago, the US was not the dominant global power today so what was going on in DC then did not affect many nations around the world. Now the US is the strongest power in the world, and the world is not at peace, so the absence of valid US Congress for five days was a “national security concern,” per spokesperson of US State Department.
There are plenty of analysis on how and why this election has been so tense. We only have to note that January 6, 2023, was the anniversary of riots in DC which almost toppled the US Congress. Further, legal cases are far from being concluded. The new Republican controlled House will take more investigations as a priority, McCarthy has promised to the public.
President Biden called out this fiasco as “embarrassing” and a bad look for the country. But he also said that “It is not his problem.” By US Constitution, the President has no role in the election of speaker of the house. Biden sounds like it was the GOP party that was embarrassed. Further, it is not only the country has “a bad look.” Because it does expose some serious structure challenges of the US as a nation, and it is not only a concern of everyone in the US, but every foreign power is concerned about their relationship with the US.
For example, Chinese observers expressed the following concerns.
- This “will” create more uncertainty in Washington, because there is no strong and reliable political leader, neither US President Joe Biden nor former president Donald Trump or new Speaker McCarthy are able to completely unite their own party. Experts claimed that the US internal governance will be a mess and fail to effectively solve economic and social problems, and its foreign policy may swerve into more chaotic and dangerous areas.
- On foreign affairs, the poisonous political atmosphere will make the US act more unpredictably and dangerously, some experts claimed. According to CNN, McCarthy said the new House of Representatives wants the US to win the economic competition with China, referring to the country as the “Chinese Community Party.”
- US politicians like McCarthy might believe that China is fragile due to the epidemic, and it’s time to launch more aggressive actions to challenge China in the fields like Taiwan question and even increase support to incite so-called color revolutions within China.
Of course, US media did not miss the beat with headlines like:
America’s Adversaries Are Loving the Drama of the House Speaker Fight
Philip Elliott The D.C. Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter, Excerpt
Fri, January 6, 2023 at 1:30 PM PST
All of which is to say this: the mess at the Capitol certainly does not put America’s best foot forward when it comes to propaganda. It’s an embarrassment on a global stage that this is dragging on in such a purely tribal way and the facts need no embellishment. But, on its own, the delay in picking a Speaker doesn’t mean the system is broken. It just means the people running it might have substituted their personal ambitions for realism. The sin isn’t the system; it’s hubris. Few Americans will notice the Communist tabloid’s verdict on the tableau in Washington, but it will inform Chinese minds far more than anything published in Western outlets. It might be time for lawmakers to look inward and see what they’re doing, not just to themselves and their party, but to America’s image abroad.