This year’s election didn’t see the promised “red wave” for Republicans. In fact, the only “waves” that happened were on the subject of reproductive rights and a rejection of Trump’s MAGA-Q movement. The GOP can take some comfort in the form of barely winning the majority in the House of Representatives, and Kevin McCarthy will most likely become Speaker of the House. But in winning, McCarthy may have become the dog who caught the car.

Now, with only a slight majority, McCarthy won’t be able to push any new laws into existence. No one expects much in that form from the House.

But in addition to that, Kevin McCarthy will probably have a hard time doing even the basics. He will have to contend with about 150 “election deniers” in his caucus. Plus, there is a radical far right wing of the party that will be unwilling to go along with anything “bi-partisan.”

On the agenda will be a debt ceiling fight. Before the election, when Republicans expected to have a much larger majority in the House, along with a majority in the Senate — some pledged to “shut the government down” unless they could “gut” programs like Social Security and Medicare. 

Now, with only a small House lead, and the Senate looking more and more like it will remain a 50/50 split, at best, that probably wouldn’t be prudent. But expect a very loud faction of the GOP to continue to demand such a move. A move that could cause further backlash against the GOP going into the 2024 Presidential election cycle.

Furthermore, some in the House want to “investigate” anything to do with the Biden administration, even though no one has been able to articulate anything worth investigating outside of Hunter Biden and his laptop. But the DOJ has all of that evidence and has not found it feasible or winnable to move forward with any prosecutions, even for minor tax violations against him.

If, in the next year, Trump is successfully prosecuted on much larger things, that will make the GOP just look silly and vindictive. This, at a time, most Americans want to see the parties work together, at least in areas that common ground can be found.

Even if nothing goes forward with prosecuting Trump, the Republicans will probably still look somewhat silly and vindictive. Plus, with all the tough talk before the election, to go forward with anything that ends up being frivolous will just weaken them and their voter base.

In those and other fights, McCarthy will almost certainly need to reach across the aisle to be able to get anything passed. Depending on the details, it will either make him look weak or be his saving grace when people evaluate his leadership in a year or two.

So, Kevin McCarthy certainly has his work cut out for him, should he, as expected, become Speaker of the House. If he is unable to pass any meaningful legislation and allows his membership to run silly investigations and shut down the government, he and the GOP will not look good as we move closer and enter the 2024 election cycle.