… “Get ready for the circus,” one staffer predicted. “Are you here for the show?” another asked.
“The circus, of course, was the multiple rounds of voting in which Members of Congress attempted to elect the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, the first time such a vote needed multiple rounds in one hundred years. More than simply counting votes, though, was the politicking, jockeying, in-fighting, and general palace intrigue which took place throughout the day and amid the rounds of voting.”
The reaction to all of this within the nearby Congressional office buildings was gallows humor from the underpaid employees who have worked through disease and assault. But there was also an unspoken but unmistakable lamentation – a feeling that the beginning of a new Congress should not be a circus, and should not be a show. The Speaker of the House is a powerful office that sets the legislative agenda of the chamber. Yet its occupant is being decided by petty, personal squabbles.
And so, just as FairVote staff were making the case for RCV across House offices, the Speaker’s race was demonstrating yet another case for RCV. As FairVote pointed out, both in those Hill offices and on Twitter, RCV could have prevented the House of Representatives from becoming a mockery of governance. In one vote, a consensus candidate with some level of support from a majority of the body would have emerged – a candidate who could quickly begin the act of governing through compromise.