The House that Newt Built.

The Rise of Matt Gaetz.

Newt Gingrich building a toy house with blocks. Image Description: Newt Gingrich building a toy house with blocks.

Summary: Explore the rise of Matt Gaetz and the influence of Newt Gingrich in reshaping the GOP landscape. Uncover the historical roots of chaos in the House of Representatives and the potential endgame of the far right wing.

“It was Matt Gaetz versus the establishment. It was Matt Gaetz versus the swamp. It was Matt Gaetz taking on all comers.” - Steve Bannon

The news channels, the pundit class, internet comment sections, pretty much everyone is trying to figure out the far right wing’s endgame in the House of Representatives. We might all be overthinking it.

This is just the most recent capstone in the chaos theory under which the modern GOP is operating. Democrats are smugly standing by, while Republicans stand in a circular firing squad, but they too are missing the larger picture. This is just the latest escapade in a journey that began 30 years ago, at least as far as the House of Representatives is concerned. But it’s part of a larger story that begins with the hostile takeover of our democracy in the mid-1970s. We’ve covered the names before, names that precious few recognize, but Unf*ckers know all too well.

Names like Friedrich Hayek, Michael Horowitz, Gary Becker, Ronald Coase, Aaron Director, Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, Charles Koch, David Koch, Lewis Powell, Richard Fink, Richard DeVos, Joseph Coors and so many more.

Ah, the masters of the universe hellbent on the destruction of democracy. Founders of organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), The Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, Mercatus Center and Mont Pelerin Society. The founding fathers of libertarian misery who birthed a movement that gave us Leonard Leo, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz.

Unf*ckers now know these stories cold. But there are those who still wonder how we got here. I don’t blame them, I just wish they’d come along for the ride; because once you see the breadth of it, the impressive level of coordination and grit that they’ve demonstrated for 50-plus years, it’s no longer surprising. Especially after the Trump years.

So let’s talk about the historic ouster in the House we just witnessed by looking at the middle section of the 50 year journey, because there’s a straight line from the 1990s to McCarthy’s unceremonious departure. And then I want to talk through something that is making me really, really nervous.

The Ten Commandments of the GOP

When Newt Gingrich took over as Speaker of the House in 1995, it was a huge moment that we barely appreciate these days. The last time the GOP held the House gavel prior to Gingrich was 1953 to 1955. They held it briefly from 1947 to 1949 as well, which was the first time since 1931. The House was Democratic for most of the modern political era, until Gingrich took over and he set about changing the nature of not just Congress, but of the American people. He did so by entering into what he called a Contract With America, a living, breathing GOP manifesto that aimed to shrink the size of government and restore conservative principles in the country.

There were ten promises the GOP took as commandments:

I. A balanced budget amendment. (Thou shalt balance the budget.)

II. Increasing instances of the death penalty and more funding for the prison industrial complex and police. (Thou shalt kill and imprison more people.)

III. Prohibiting welfare to young mothers to discourage welfare, broad based cuts to all welfare programs and implementation of work requirements. (Thou shalt punish young mothers.)

IV. Enforcing child support, incentivizing adoption, parental rights in education. (Thou shalt have more babies and homeschool them.)

V. $500-per-child tax credits and individual savings accounts for home buying, education and retirement. (Thou shalt save to live whilst we gut entitlements.)

VI. Strengthening the military and creating a missile defense system. (Thou shalt bleed for your government.)

VII. Capital gains tax cut. (Thou shalt feed the rich.)

VIII. Unfunded mandate reforms. (Thou shalt fuck the states.)

IX. Limits on punitive damages and “loser pays” provisions to prevent frivolous lawsuits. (Thou shalt protect the rich in court.)

X. Congressional term limits. (That shit ain’t never gonna happen - God.)

In our series on the Clinton years, we detailed how most of what the Gingrich House put forward was ultimately put into effect. Clinton’s cynical strategy—something his advisers termed “triangulation”—was to get ahead of as much of it as possible and make it part of the Democratic agenda. And so that’s what we got: a Clinton legacy largely authored by Newt Gingrich.

More than policy, Gingrich also introduced a culture shift in the House that remains long after his manifesto.

Newt Gingrich has an enormous head

Newt Gingrich was perhaps one of the greatest political operatives who ever held the gavel. Ultimately, his corrupt ways and tawdry personal life led to his unraveling in the role, but the effect that he had on the body far outlasted his tenure as House Speaker.

Gingrich is extremely intelligent and perniciously clever. His Contract With America was a way of galvanizing the conservative base of the country and of painting the GOP into a corner from which they have yet to escape. But along with his contract was a pledge. An actual pledge called the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” written by Contract With America co-author and shitbag Grover Norquist.

The Contract With America was a contract with the American people, whereas the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” was strictly among Republicans. Essentially, any Republican seeking the GOP endorsement would have to sign Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes. Ever. It’s something that Norquist developed under Reagan, though curiously wasn’t enforced when Reagan raised taxes multiple times in his term.

The modern GOP is still standing behind the principles of Newt’s contract and adhering to some fake pledge rather than the Constitution. It’s that simple.

Matt Gaetz is Frankenstein’s monster, a convenient vessel of despair and cynicism with a pompadour and a tie. But he doesn’t want to be the President. He’s angling for something else.

And all of the evil plans drawn up by the libertarian fucknuggets we listed above only came to fruition because Gingrich showed how to hold the government hostage. And every time he did so, the GOP lurched further and further to the right, with each subsequent Congress trying to outdo the one before; each one chipping away at civility and democratic processes. And Democrats blindly followed along, thinking that eventually it will catch up with Republicans.

“Surely the American people will tire of these shenanigans!” - Corporate Democrats

This philosophy has delivered us into the lesser evil era.

Now, what’s ironic, or maybe just funny, is how each successive GOP leader is ultimately destroyed by their own. Gingrich was ousted by his own. His replacement Dennis Hastert, a stern and reliable man who sought to restore some integrity to the Speaker position, was later arrested on child pornography charges. Next up was John Boehner, a Newt protégé who was undone by the next iteration of GOP fuckheads. Namely, Paul Ryan. Surely, fiscal conservative and dough-eyed fitness freak Ryan would weather the storm.

Alas, no. By then, norms had flown out the window, and Ryan was quickly humiliated and neutered by Donald J. Trump. And now we have Kevin McCarthy, who was part of a trio of douchenozzles who called themselves the Young Guns, which included Ryan and Eric Cantor. And now, McCarthy has been taken out by the next nozzle in line, the most revolting insurgent yet—Matt Gaetz.

Except Gaetz seems to have little interest in taking the gavel for himself. And that’s why so many pundits are tying themselves in knots trying to figure out his end game.

And that’s what scares me.

Tearing down Newt’s House

You reap what you sow. Newt was ambitious. The House Speaker is third in line for the presidency. But Newt made no bones about it: third is for losers, he wanted to be President. So he lobbed a bomb into the House chamber and destroyed any pretense of compromise.

The House had been overthrown by a demagogue, and that’s what we’ve gotten ever since. Matt Gaetz is Frankenstein’s monster, a convenient vessel of despair and cynicism with a pompadour and a tie. But he doesn’t want to be the President. He’s angling for something else.

The mistake is in thinking he’s stupid. He’s not stupid.

I’ve been watching him more closely in recent months. It’s only when he’s up against someone as skilled as Jamie Raskin that Gaetz finds himself on the defensive. But I’ve watched the way he scores populist talking points while taking powerful figures to task. He’s unapologetic, pugnacious and sharp tongued. He doesn’t stumble. Doesn’t mince words. And, if you’re merely a casual observer, you might even appreciate some of his takes.

He grilled General Mark Milley over the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Confronted FBI Director Christopher Wray. Fought the entire House over retiring Ukraine’s debt. January 6 hearings, Hunter Biden hearings, spending bill debates, you name it; Matt Gaetz is front and center, making his voice heard and channeling populist rage.

In areas of the internet that you and I don’t travel, on broadcasts we don’t watch and in circles we don’t run in, Gaetz is going from buffoon to hero because there’s literally no structure of power he won’t quarrel with.

What scares me is his lack of transparent ambition. He seems to be happy in the role of Lucifer’s attack dog. So much so, that I’m beginning to think that the chaos he’s sowing isn’t a tactic. I think chaos is the endgame. My proof is to look no further than his cozy alignment with Steve Bannon.

Just like the cadre of evil libertarians have been years ahead of the left in building organizations, propaganda campaigns and operations to steal power and promote disinformation, Steve Bannon is years ahead of the left AND the right in finding ways to tear the whole system down. He almost did it once. Do you really think he stopped trying? I mean, this guy was inside the White House. He fucking made it. He got to see the machine from the inside.

It’s like having the blueprint to the Death Star.

Revolutionary Conditions?

Bannon is fomenting a revolution. He doesn’t want to take over the government, mind you. He just wants to destroy it. Those are his words. And he’s building a Fight Club type network of losers, racists and incels to do his bidding. He’s learned from the January 6 experiment and is taking a different tack to ensure a chaotic election cycle. Let’s see how things are shaping up.

(Not all of these are by Bannon’s hand, it just paints a picture of how chaotic things already are.)

  • Election deniers in key government positions.
  • Precinct captains and poll watchers enlisted by Bannon’s War Room.
  • RFK, Jr. is likely switching his affiliation to Independent, leaving faith healer Marianne Williamson as the only opposition within the Democratic Party.
  • Cornel West switched from the People’s Party to the Green Party to Independent. That’s almost a party-a-month.
  • Biden decaying before our very eyes.
  • No Labels contemplating a spoiler role, with Joe Manchin making a third party run.
  • And Republican infighting brought this legislative session to a grinding halt just weeks before another government funding confrontation.

And now Democrats and progressives are blithely taking it all in, thinking somehow Republican voters are going to blame Republicans for chaos on the House floor or even a government shutdown. They won’t.

In the conclusion of our socialism series, we talked about revolutionary conditions. A whole host of things have to be going wrong at once to create the conditions for revolution, but it requires a catalyzing event to bring it forth and a revolutionary core ready and willing to seize power.

We also asserted that capitalism has a way of coming to the rescue to avert a crisis that would imperil its ability to run the world. To wit, we have the establishment Democrats and moderate Republicans betting on capitalism with a series of spending bills designed to prop up the corporate class through what might otherwise be a turbulent time. Republicans are hoping that the money doesn’t impact the real economy in time for the next election, and Democrats are hoping Biden’s bottom-up and middle-out strategy takes hold just in time.

Frustrating this process by holding the government hostage pushes all of these investments back. That’s just one part of the Bannon plan. But he knows economic cataclysm isn’t enough to tear down the entire establishment. It might be enough to punish the incumbent and usher in another Trump administration, but it might not be enough to place Bannon in the center of power atop the ashes of the republic.

No, he needs more than a recession.

Thus, the election interference plan. An economic downturn combined with wholesale election failures will give credence to their false claims that there was election fraud in the past. Now, that would cause pandemonium.

Are those revolutionary conditions? The country would turn into a complete circus with Republicans running around in the three rings and Democrats taking tickets at the door and failing to understand what’s happening. And who do you look for to take control of a circus?

The Ringleader. DJT.

Matt Gaetz isn’t trying to steal the House. He’s trying to steal the presidency. Again.

Image Sources

  • Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Changes were made.

Max is a basic, middle-aged white guy who developed his cultural tastes in the 80s (Miami Vice, NY Mets), became politically aware in the 90s (as a Republican), started actually thinking and writing in the 2000s (shifting left), became completely jaded in the 2010s (moving further left) and eventually decided to launch UNFTR in the 2020s (completely left).