Gary Horton | The SCV’s Congressional Conundrum

Gary Horton

Three weeks back, our Santa Clarita Valley community hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of the College of the Canyons Advanced Training Center. As COC Foundation vice chair, I was invited to give a short speech along with the actual, real luminaries of the event.  

Somehow, I ended up sitting shoulder to shoulder with our very own congressman, Mike Garcia. We’ve never actually met face to face before so, over the course of 90 minutes I had the rewarding experience to engage in small talk and “get to know you talk” with my new acquaintance, Mr. Garcia. 

And I can tell you this: Mike Garcia is a pleasant, professional, capable leader. He’s a fun guy. Indeed, he’s got a great sense of humor and is very quick with a quip. Ascending to the podium, Mike casually joked something to the effect that he wasn’t supposed to be here, but his schedule cleared up after the Kevin McCarthy debacle. He said the joke better than I can, and he got a pretty good laugh with it. Mike seems human, self-effacing, and down to earth. I’m sure that most any of us would be pleased to have Mike Garcia as our neighbor. As a moderately progressive Democrat, let me cross over the line and assure you, Mike Garcia seems like an honestly good guy. 

See? It IS possible for Democrats to be nice to Republicans and vice-versa. It wasn’t so hard to type those words. Now, if only the rest of Congress could be so reasonable. And, by the way, Congressman Garcia was kind enough to invite me for a call or a lunch next time his schedule opened. Dialogue is the heartbeat of a good democracy, so, so far so good. 

But then the following week came the subsequent votes for House speaker. We all know Kevin McCarthy got shivved by Elvis hair impersonator and professional anti-democracy bomb-thrower, Matt Goetz. Then came Steve Scalise and that blew out before it started. And third at bat for speaker was Jim Jordan. Many recall that Big Jim had a Big Part in the lead-up to Jan. 6 and he remains as Donald Trump’s muscle in the House. 

Jordan as House speaker would have been horrendous for American democracy, as he remains an election denier and speaks as though he would stop at nearly nothing to get Trump back into the White House. Imagine, a House speaker who disavows the sitting president of the United States, and continues to deny the 2020 election results, even after Trump lost six states, losing by a greater margin than Hillary Clinton lost to Trump … 

The world outside of Trumpland exhaled a huge sigh of relief when Jordan also went down in flames. It’s as though we neutralized a sort of anti-democracy terrorist before he set off the bomb. Close call. Jordan went three rounds of voting on the House floor, losing more votes consecutively. Interesting, when the Republicans later held a SECRET vote to determine Jordan’s fate, he went down in spectacular flames, 122-86. Interesting, how these guys vote when nobody is looking … 

Re-enter Mike Garcia into this story. Congressman Garcia indeed voted in favor of Jim Jordan all three times on the House floor. Just as he voted to reject Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s electoral votes on Jan. 6, Garcia again sided with the constitutional anarchists. Jim Jordan was a clear and present danger to the U.S. Constitution. Yet, inexplicably, Garcia backed him up.  

I’d love to know where Garcia stood during the secret vote. I have a call in to talk with him about it from late Friday, but as of this writing I’ve not yet heard back. Did Congressman Garcia secretly side with the functional, pro-democracy side of the Republican Party in voting Jim down, or did he double down and continue to support Jordan on that secret ballot? I think the SCV deserves to know. What is Mike Garcia really thinking?

Mike Garcia is a new, rising congressman. He’s popular here at home and, from all indications, he does a fine job representing us locally. But running a good local congressional office isn’t an excuse for voting to undermine the very democracy our district, state and country are founded on. I understand, as a rising star, Garcia needs to play nice with the powers that be. And right now, there’s still a real fear Trump will turn his capable media and money guns against any politician who dares call him out as the Anti-Christ of Presidents. It appears many Republican congressmen remain terrified of Trump’s wrath.  

I would hope that fighter pilots wouldn’t succumb to such tentative and passing pressures. If folks got their big boy democracy shoes back on and rejected Trump for the charlatan that he is, in 10 years Trump would be nothing more than a guffaw joke followed by a, “Can you believe we actually voted for that buffoon?” 

But vote against the Arizona and Pennsylvania electors on Jan. 6 Garcia did. And three years later, vote for Jordan, Garcia did thrice, again siding with Trump’s anti-democratic infrastructure. Oh, I wish we could see Garcia’s secret ballot to know his true beliefs. Does our otherwise honorable congressman really believe all that stolen election nonsense, or is his capitulating to Trump’s pressure just the cost of keeping a Republican seat in this Trumpy time? Our district is purple, and representing all the people should require breaking the bonds of absolute Trumpism. 

That’s our current, local, congressional conundrum: Our good, otherwise fair and balanced congressman has sided with known insurrectionists.  

What on Earth are we supposed to do with this? Mike Garcia owes the SCV an explanation. Plainly Mike cares about America. The Washington Post quoted Congressman Garcia as saying after the vote, “It sounds silly, but let’s go to Gettysburg or something,” Garcia proposed, “so that the Republican Party can once again remember why we do what we do.” 

And I’d like to ask, “Why does Congressman Garcia do what he does?” What gives with the Trump allegiance?

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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