House Speaker John Boehner has announced that he will resign from Congress at the end of October. You read that right, he’s not just stepping down as Speaker of the House, he’s leaving Congress altogether, creating a seismic shift in the congressional landscape.
While the suddenness of this move comes as a surprise, it was no secret that Boehner’s political future was already in serious jeopardy. After Rep. Mark Meadows authored a resolution calling for Boehner to step down, airing a lengthy list of grievances with his leadership, it has become increasingly clear that the freedom wing of the Republican Party, spurred on by widespread dissatisfaction at the grassroots level, was ready to oust Boehner over his lack of backbone in the ongoing budget negotiations. A preemptive resignation spares Boehner the embarrassment of being kicked out by his own party, and was probably prudent on his part.
For the last several months, FreedomWorks has been highlighting Meadows’ grievances, as well as other failures of House leadership to adequately represent the caucus. These range from backing big spending bills and more debt without reform, to working in secret without input from fiscal conservatives, to unilaterally killing a liberty-oriented amendment that had the broad support of the Republican Congress.
But most egregious – and what ultimately led to Boehner’s downfall – was his practice of exacting revenge on those Members who dared to disagree with leadership, and vote contrary to his wishes. Mark Meadows was only the most visible casualty of this culture of vengeance, being stripped from his committee assignment for opposing Boehner, until an overwhelming wave of public pressure forced his reinstatement. That was far from the only instance of petty retribution, with Reps. Tim Huelskamp, Daniel Webster, Richard Nugent, David Schweikert, Justin Amash, and Walter Jones suffering a similar fate, albeit without reinstatement.
Across America, the grassroots movement saw this behavior, and deemed it unacceptable. They demanded better representation. They demanded a leader who would listen to the freedom wing, instead of trying to silence it. All told, nearly 200,000 FreedomWorks activists told Congress that they were fed up with John Boehner, and for once, Congress listened.
This announcement serves as an important reminder that the government works for the people, not the other way around. When Congress fails, it is the people who will hold them accountable, and this is why FreedomWorks is devoted to keeping the grassroots educated about what their representatives are doing. Gone are the days of covert, back-room legislating, shielded from the watchful eyes of the American public. There’s nowhere left to hide anymore.
John Boehner’s resignation is a clear victory for the grassroots, and a clear message to Congress: Hold yourselves to a higher standard, or else we will.