In a surprise announcement on Wednesday morning, November 1, Congressman Ken Buck (R-Colorado) made it official. This morning speaking with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, he said he has decided not to seek re-election in the November 2024 election.
In making the announcement, Buck has publically attributed at least part of his decision to his party’s reliance on former President Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. He posted an online video that included his conclusion that his party’s “insidious narratives breed widespread cynicism and erode Americans’ confidence in the rule of law.”
Buck also came out against former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s launch of an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, citing the flimsy evidence collected by House Republicans. He has been against stop-gap spending bills, saying that Congress’s job is to deal with budgets and they should get on with it and stop doing things piecemeal.
Upon receiving the news, Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued a statement saying: “Ken and I served together for four years in Congress and I’ve always appreciated his commitment to representing our great state. I wish Ken the very best in whatever he does next and on behalf of Colorado, I thank him for his public service.”
During the circus that accompanied the House majority Republican party’s effort to install a new Speaker of the House, Buck had first announced that he would not vote for any nominee who did not recognize that the 2020 election results that elected Joe Biden as President. But then in later rounds of voting, and the appearance of ghost candidate Mike Johnson, Buck appears to have caved and joined the unanimous Republican vote to elect Johnson as speaker.
Buck’s announcement coincides with the announcement this morning by Texas Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-Texas) that she will also not seek re-election.
Johnson is much further right than former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. An avowed Christian nationalist and 2020 election denier (he is considered an architect of the push to decertify 2020 election results), he supports a national abortion ban, he is anti-gay, and has voted against women’s rights. His first act as speaker has been to pick a fight with President Joe Biden over funding support for the wars in Israel and Ukraine and demands it be balanced by cuts in IRS funding to go after right tax evaders. The House bill has no chance of passing in the U.S. Senate.
It begs the question: what is going on in the Republican party?
The answer is simple — and serious. It would appear that the far-right Freedom Caucus is solidifying its hold on the Republican Party. What began and had been a minority extreme element of the Republican Party is now a full-blown extremist movement that has swamped the moderate elements of the party.
We’re starting to see a self-purging of the non-Freedom caucus; it includes those extremely conservative House Republicans whose positions are not as far right as the Freedom Caucus would want. Seniority apparently no longer matters. Granger is chair of the House Appropriations Committee and Buck has a fair amount of seniority.
It is hard to believe that Ken Buck — who has served in the House since 2015 and who many say has been as right-wing as they get, is suddenly too moderate for the modern GOP.
It begs the question: what is this and where is this going?
Not only is the Republican Party no longer a party of law and order (they gave away that claim on January 6, 2020), it appears to be a party that no longer believes in the Constitution, the rule of law, and democracy of, by, and for the people (those who disagree and have proof otherwise, please present it). It is, or is becoming — something else.
What exactly that may be should become clear over the next weeks and months. By that time, we can all hope for the insight and courage to call it what it really is — and the time left to address it.
Featured image: Ken Buck. Photo courtesy of The Denver Post.