Rep. Jim Jordan’s bid to become speaker hasn’t worked, at least not yet. But Jordan has already succeeded in revealing that House Republicans mostly don’t care about his leading role in Donald Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election—or the prospect that Jordan, as speaker, might have more success stealing the next election.
With the exception of Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), House Republicans have barely mentioned Jordan’s involvement in Trump’s plot, let alone sought assurances that he’d act differently as speaker. (Allegations—which Jordan denies—that he failed to report sexual abuse of Ohio State wrestlers while he was an assistant coach for the team apparently aren’t much of a concern for GOP lawmakers, either.)
Instead, Republicans have focused on getting other promises from Jordan. That’s pretty much what economists call a revealed preference—the thing that consumers really buy, regardless of what they say they want. The Party of Lincoln might talk about the Constitution and democracy, but in practice, its representatives have other priorities.
For example, farm subsidies. Some Republicans who initially balked at backing Jordan agreed to vote for him after he reportedly suggested he would allow passage of the annual farm bill, despite his long record of opposing such legislation. Similarly, Jordan seems to have won some support by indicating to GOP lawmakers that he would not to block legislation providing aid for Ukraine and Israel, meaning the he would allow a bill to pass with bipartisan support, despite his past opposition to supplemental aid for Ukraine.
But what the Republican converts did not get from Jordan—or, as far we know, even seek—is any explanation regarding his efforts to help Trump retain power after voters elected Joe Biden.
The House’s January 6 committee called Jordan “a significant player in President Trump’s efforts” leading up to the attack on the Capitol and GOP schemes to reject the election results. Jordan led a January 2, 2021, conference call in which he, Trump, and others “discussed strategies for delaying the January 6 joint session of Congress,” the panel said. That call included talk of encouraging Trump backers to “march to the Capitol.” Jordan also urged Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes on January 6, something Pence lacked power to do. Jordan spoke twice to Trump on January 6, and he received five calls from Rudy Giuliani, as Trump and Giuliani pushed lawmakers to use the disruption caused by the attack on Congress to further delay certification of Biden’s victory.
We have long known Jordan helped Trump plot ahead of January 6. And it’s not all that surprising that most House Republicans voted to make him speaker anyway. But it is kind of striking that they apparently didn’t even insist that he explain himself first.
Jordan still will not say that Joe Biden won the 2020 election. And after backing Trump’s effort to use Congress to steal that election, Jordan has not publicly vowed to ensure that the House will do its constitutional duty in 2024 if Trump loses and again falsely claims the results were fraudulent.
Republicans got Jordan to agree to continue farm subsidies. You might expect a few to do the same for American democracy. But that is evidently a lesser concern.