Courage is a rare commodity amongst elected officials. But the willingness to sacrifice for a cause greater than yourself is almost extinct.
Yet that is what America witnessed, and the media who covered it missed, in the battle over whether John Boehner (R-Ohio) would be retained as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The unwritten story after the largest in-party insurrection against a sitting Speaker in more than 100 years is that of what really happened with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).
Rather than seeking the office, Gohmert was asked by some of his colleagues to run so those who were deciding on whom to vote for Speaker could not say they did not have someone else to vote for. It wasn’t an office that Gohmert had campaigned for over the course of years; his run was designed to provide an alternative.
But the real act of self-sacrifice was Gohmert’s encouragement of other candidates to get into the race and encouraging his colleagues to vote for any of the alternatives. Those who wish to diminish the legitimacy of the rebellion by pointing to the final tally where Gohmert received three of the 25 votes against Boehner miss the big picture.Unlike most in Washington, Gohmert, by being the very public stalking horse, sacrificed votes for himself in encouraging his colleagues to vote for other candidates.The courage to take on a sitting Speaker who controls all the levers of power in the House of Representatives is rare and precious. Those who took that very hard step are currently facing retribution for their decision. But choosing to subject yourself to ridicule by deliberately sabotaging your vote in the race to help make it easier on your colleagues was an act of true leadership.
It is the exact kind of America-first self-sacrifice that comes from Allen Drury novels, but it is an all-too-rare commodity on real-life Jenkins Hill. It is the definition of being a statesman who cares more about the cause than about the personal cost involved in seeking it.
And while he doesn’t need it, this commentator thanks Gohmert for re-instilling a knowledge that people of courage, honor and self-sacrifice have not been completely stricken from the ranks of the body politic. While this notion may seem naive amongst the political power-climbing class in D.C., it is what Americans expect of every member of Congress.
On Jan. 6, 2015 the D.C. establishment witnessed the very characteristics that so many claim to long for, and Congress and indeed Speaker Boehner will be better for it. It is too bad that the media couldn’t look past the horse race to tell this great American story.
Manning is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.