tags: Press Releases

New Generation of Republicans Adopts GOP Preference for Performance Politics Over Actually Governing

Share This:

“When you can’t govern, just rely on publicity stunts.”

Washington, DC – Barely a month into being Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy has made it clear that his party would rather engage in political stunts than governing, as evidenced by his recent trip to the US-Mexico border. Traveling with four GOP freshmen Representatives, McCarthy visited a stretch of the border near Tucson, Arizona where he set the stage for how Republicans would operate now that they hold the majority in the House. Despite claiming Republicans “have a lot of ideas,” McCarthy’s plan mostly consisted of house field hearings and more border visits, saying, “This congress is different than the last congress. We are not just going to write the bill and put it on the floor.”  

Among the delegation was Arizona Rep. Juan Ciscomani, who like the Speaker, failed to present substantive policy ideas or condemn the white nationalist rhetoric of his Republican colleagues around the issue. While Ciscomani is engaged in political stunts, voters in his state just passed Prop 308 in support of higher education parity for students in Arizona regardless of their immigration status. The measure, approved by voters in November, allows for in-state tuition and financial aid to students, even undocumented ones, in sharp contrast to the anti-immigration legislation passed previously by Republicans in the state and the anti-immigration direction of Arizona Republicans. 

This type of performance from Republicans is expected to continue next week when Rep. Jim Jordan will lead a Judiciary Committee hearing in Yuma, Arizona – so far, Democratic lawmakers have made it clear they will not engage in this type of political theater. 

McCarthy’s stunt was widely panned for the sham that it was and criticized by immigration advocates across the political landscape:

  • Speaking to NPR, Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva argues against these types of GOP performative stunts: “They’re not here to talk about solutions at all. They’re here to do theater and then say that they came to the border, took a photo op and moved on. But you know, I would hope that there would be some seriousness about what are some solutions to this.” 
  • Joy Reid on her MSNBC program lambasted the GOP for its unwillingness and inability to seriously govern: “Well, when you can’t govern, just rely on publicity stunts. That is the mantra, presumably, of the very unserious Republican Party. And today, the nominal House Speaker Kevin McCarthy got a new photo-op of his own with a highly produced video of his jaunt to the Southern border in Arizona with a delegation of Republican freshmen.

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communications for America’s Voice: 

“Yesterday’s stunt by Kevin McCarthy only confirms he is only interested in performing anti-immigrant political theater for the cameras and the most extreme members in his caucus. Immigration and border security bills were supposed to be the first ‘accomplishments’ of the new House majority, but Speaker McCarthy has been unable even to get his own Republicans on the same page. 

So, immigration is becoming the new incarnation of ‘Infrastructure Week’ for House Republicans, a set of issues on which they talk a lot, but fail to actually legislate.

Rather than engage with Democrats or craft comprehensive, sensible solutions that could pass or be signed into law, the Republican Party continues to put on performative events to appease the MAGA base and feed conservative media. This stunt and the upcoming Judiciary hearing at the border accomplish nothing substantive, nor do they move us towards solutions. Instead, Republicans are content to fear-monger, play politics and amplify conspiratorial beliefs such as the vile Great Replacement Theory.”