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McCarthy’s challenge


By Susan Palmes-Dennis

Rockingham, North Carolina—The infighting instigated by stubborn conservatives specifically in the Republican Party in the US Congress glued me to the news last week.

The daily news feed about the intense fight for the US House Speaker post led me to Google it to verify if this was the first time there was multiple voting rounds for the speakership and sure enough, Google didn’t disappoint me. The search engine told me that were similar incidents in 1923 and as far back as 1863.

The election of Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy of California ended the rule of Democrat lawmaker Nancy Pelosi and many thought that McCarthy’s victory was fraught with compromises made with the extreme right wing of the Republican party. Then again, wheeling and dealing remains a facet in US politics, more so and even much worse back home in the Philippines.

This notion was fostered by the US mainstream media who pointed to McCarthy’s connections to former president Donald Trump as evidence of their contention. And of course it didn’t help any that McCarthy credited Trump’s influence in the Republican party as instrumental for his victory in the US House speakership post.

What’s critical about the post is that the House Speaker establishes the legislative agenda and calendar or schedules deliberations on legislative measures proposed by the incumbent administration at the White House. Hence why there’s so much attention given to the race coming as it is in another upcoming election year specifically 2024.

But I disagree that the five-day Capitol drama which included a near-brawl among Republican legislators signals a return to the Trump era and with it the heated and polarizing political crossfire between Republicans and Democrats.

Despite how rough it went, the election of McCarthy into the speakership post showed that the election process in the US still works. Both moderate and even right wing Republicans agreed to disagree on issues like the US-Mexico border and the budget. The so-called ‘extreme right wing’ of the Republican party wanted real change, not the institutional ‘big government role’ on everything from security to the COVID-19 response that Democrats heavily promoted.

The fraction that held out in voting for McCarthy were part of the ‘House Freedom Caucus’ who stood their ground until the 14th vote. No concessions were also admitted to by either side insofar as courting lawmakers’ votes are concerned. But again, that’s politics for you and us average folk.

It also reminds me of that quote by the late president that his loyalty to his political party ends when his loyalty to the country begins. Also, unlike the US, the House speaker’s post in the Philippines is elected by the party of the incumbent president.

I’m not fluent in English and I had to learn both written and spoken English before immigrating to the US. Yet back home in the Philippines not a few Pinoys prefer to communicate in their native Filipino which could either be Tagalog or Visayan.

Yet try as they might, Pinoys should eventually learn to respect the English language for what it is, namely the lingua franca of most First World countries. And for those who stubbornly resist and insist on speaking in Filipino, the problem of accurately translating English to Filipino can get quite messy.

As an example, my husband Ronnie Dennis had problems with Philippine Airlines where he booked our trip. I had to be beside him to translate the Filipino language of whoever was on the next line. It felt frustrating and yet I sympathize with the other Filipino on the line.

But in fairness the first male agent who assisted us was a great communicator and if succeeding agents weren’t up to speed. The country’s airlines should exert more effort to service foreigners especially those with strong ties to the Philippines. By doing this, chances are we improve our knowledge of their culture and build a strong, loyal base of followers and audiences across the world.

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