As the Republican Party gears up to take control of the House of Representatives in January, many Americans are still unfamiliar with the man who is in line to become the next Speaker of the House. Elected Speaker-Designate by his fellow Republicans, John Boehner will become second in the line of succession to the President, just behind the Vice-President…yet he remains enigmatic to many people across America. Nonetheless, Boehner seems set to become one of the most powerful leaders in Washington this January, so it is vital to delve into his past and try to identify his political leanings. The ultimate question that many Americans are asking: What direction will he lead the 112th House of Representatives?
First of all, in order to understand the political side of the man, it might be helpful to understand a few aspects about the person ‘• who is John Boehner?
A native of Southwest Ohio, Boehner was born in 1949, second in a family of twelve children. Raised as a Catholic, he was surrounded by a family full of Democrats in the Kennedy Era. The first in his family to graduate from college, Boehner holds a bachelor’s degree is business from Xavier University in Cincinnati. Today, he and his wife, Debbie, have been married 35 years and are the parents of 2 daughters.
In 1982, he made his leap into the political arena within local government, first serving as a trustee in Union Township. From there, he entered statewide politics as an Ohio state representative, serving from 1984 to 1990. Entering the national stage in 1991, Boehner was elected to the House of Representatives and became one of the original “Gang of Seven,” which included former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Having made his mark in the plastics industry, he turned over the reigns to his business partner after being elected to Congress. This action allowed Boehner to devote his full attention to politics in Washington, D.C., where he helped Gingrich shake up national politics in the early 1990’s. He joined his fellow Republicans in drafting the original Contract with America.
Although a longtime Washington insider, having been on the national stage since 1991, a look at his official website reveals that Boehner is now trying to re-establish himself as a true reformer. Nevertheless, he rarely strays from the Republican fold today, voting straight down party lines in the majority of instances. During 2010, Boehner voted contrary to party lines only 10 times, out of hundreds upon hundreds of votes. Still, Boehner seems to be reintroducing himself as a staunch fiscal and social conservative, possibly in the likeness of Ronald Reagan, while some critics insist that he is merely a moderate Republican in conservative clothing. In support of this claim, they point to his vote in support of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in October 2008. However, many members of his own party, as well as the Democratic Party, recognize Boehner as a reformer and a conservative.
Still, countless Americans do not know anything about John Boehner, which provides the future Speaker of the House of Representatives with a golden opportunity to introduce himself to the American people. Just as his predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, entered the national stage as a relative unknown two years ago, Boehner will either become known as a reformer or as an insider between now and 2012. Similarly, Pelosi became Speaker of the House in 2008 with a clean slate, but managed to become a lightning rod for Democrats in less than two years. Therefore, the next two years will become critical for the Republican Party if they wish to regain full control of Congress in 2012, not to mention regaining the presidency from President Obama.
In the end, Boehner’s performance as Speaker, and where he leads the Republican Party, will prove crucial to realizing these goals. Since the Republican Party will only control one house of Congress, all eyes will watch Boehner and his fellow Representatives to see whether they will live up to voter expectations that handed them control of the House in 2010.
In due course, Boehner’s performance over the next two years will help shape the outcome of the pivotal 2012 elections.