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The speaker of the House debacle is the Maga revolution eating its children | Jan-Werner Müller

The extreme Republicans blocking Kevin McCarthy are refusing to accept a loss – the core of the Trumpist playbook

Autocrats around the world, after a pretty bad 2022, must be delighted: just in time for the second anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, the US is providing a spectacle of democratic dysfunction for stunned global audiences to behold. But the Republican faction holding the country hostage – the farthest right inside what de facto has become a far-right party – wants to convince us that this is simply what democracy looks like – messy and frustrating, but all happening for the sake of a better result in the end. The Groundhog Day-style procedures are dignified as – in the words of failed speaker of the House candidate Byron Donalds – a “deliberative, open process” necessary for the “constitutional republic that is America”.

The fact is that the Republicans blocking Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker are not crazy when they suggest that good-faith debate within the same political party can be beneficial for a democratic polity. Except that their political performance art is really about a refusal to accept a loss – the very core of the Trumpist playbook. This is not what democracy looks like; this is what acting out a belief in minority rule looks like.

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