An attempted mini-coup that went down the day the GOP re-seated Speaker John Boehner has almost gone unnoticed. A minority faction of House Republicans, believing new leadership was needed in the speaker’s office, ensued to unseat Mr. Boehner. These congressmen, including ring leaders Justin Amash of Michigan, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina and Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, had organized beforehand and agreed that if they could get 25 members to align with them in a vote against Mr. Boehner, they would carry through with the plan. Well, it’s reported that they reached their 25-member quota, but then one backed out the morning of the vote. After heated discussion, they called off the plan 30 minutes before the January 3 floor vote. Nine conservatives voted for somebody other than Boehner, two abstained from voting, and one voted “present,” bringing their troop count to 12.
This small band of 12 alerts Mr. Boehner of potentially rough waters ahead. Republicans have a 17 point lead on Democrats in the House, so these disaffected members are significant in negotiations, and are capable of holding a good morsel of leverage with majority members — including the socially-conservative Tea Party members who took the Grand Old Party by storm in 2010, but have slowly and steadily been in a downhill roll as American approval for Congress reaches rock bottom. Some might even say Congress is less popular than cockroaches, root canals and Nickleback.
So who are these 12 rebels of concern?
Justin Amash (Mich.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Ted Yoho (Fla.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Steve Stockman (Texas), Dr. Paul Broun (Ga.), Jim Bridenstine (Okla.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Tim Huelskamp (Kans.), Raúl Labrador (Idaho), Mick Mulvaney (S.C.), and Steve Pearce (N.M.).
Huelskamp, Labrador, and Mulvaney are members of the House Liberty Caucus formerly chaired by Dr. Ron Paul. Yoho, Massie, and Stockman received Paul endorsements.
In addition to these congressmen, other Republicans who were uncomfortable with the Tea Party could begin aligning more closely with conservative "freedom fighters" or with the shrinking faction of centrist Democrats where they could perhaps make attempts at diplomacy. There are other squeaky wheels in the midst of the GOP. Some are publicly criticizing their own party in opposition to handling of issues such as the 11th hour fiscal cliff deal and Hurricane Sandy relief, while others hold rather extreme criticisms toward the president’s nominee for secretary of defense, former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel.
Being elected Senate minority once again, along with many guaranteed-to-be brutal rumbles in the forecast with liberals, Republicans could find themselves in a tight spot, unable to effectively use their majority clout in the House to counteract Obama and liberal Congress. A noticeable shift toward right-center — with an injection of a little liberty — is also plausible. We can probably also predict this to be a year of alignments and attempts at rebirth, and the escalating GOP civil war of wills.
It's still too soon to tell exactly what's in store for this 160-year-old party, but eventually they'll figure it out and rise from the ashes stronger and better than ever, one way or another.