Political Science Professor Robert Boatright has watched the Speaker of the House role become a career-ending position. This was the case for Paul Ryan and John Boehner, former Republican speakers who became disenfranchised and then left Congress. The pattern repeated itself this month as Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a Republican of California, was ousted. Rep. Mike Johnson, a Republican of Louisiana, is the new House speaker as of Wednesday, Oct. 25.
“It’s unclear why an ambitious Republican would want to be Speaker of the House anymore given what you can anticipate,” says Boatright. The process of becoming speaker has become unprecedentedly public. When Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican of Ohio, was vying for the position earlier this month, he campaigned to the public. Social media figures like Steve Bannon used their platforms to mobilize voters to pressure moderate Republicans. “The idea that the public would play a role in figuring out who they thought was a good candidate and go after people who didn’t agree with them is really pretty remarkable,” says Boatright.