THE BLOG
10/12/2015 03:35 pm ET Updated Oct 12, 2016

Governing the U.S. House of Representatives

Chris Clor via Getty Images

With the resignation of Speaker John Boehner and the withdrawal of Kevin McCarthy as a candidate to replace him, it is clear that there is a structural issue in how the House of Representatives is organized (or not).

There are 247 Republicans in the House, of whom roughly 40 are members of a "Freedom Caucus," as the Tea Party inspired members now call themselves. To elect a Speaker requires 217 votes. Thus the Freedom Caucus has, or appears to have, a veto on who gets to be Speaker.

But the demands of this Caucus in terms of policy are so extreme that they would not carry a majority of the House Republicans, let alone a majority of the House, let alone a majority of the American people. Everybody outside the Freedom Caucus thinks that the Federal Government should have a budget, without a shut-down, and that the government should pay its bills and honor its debts.

There is a road through this mess. That road is a coalition in the House of Representatives consisting of the majority of the House Republicans and a majority of House Democrats. They would have to agree on how committees would be structured, and about the broad lines of policy. It would scramble American politics by instituting a coalition in America's most partisan part of the governing structure. It would be a jarring revolution.

The alternative would be to pull in some senior Republican leader from outside to be Speaker on a temporary basis. Does anyone feature George Bush, Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney in this role? But even if there were such a patch, the person would still face the same fundamental divide in the Republican Party.

What we have seen is that the Republican Party isn't one party, it's two parties.