The Real Reason the Freedom Caucus Hates Kevin McCarthy Is Larger Than You Think

Thom Hartmann
8 min readJan 5

While the battle for House Speaker appears to be about personality, it’s really about ideology. It’s about the future of “big government” and the American middle class

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay


While Kevin McCarthy’s struggle to become Speaker of the House of Representatives appears to be about personality and struggles within the House Republican caucus, it’s really about something much larger: the fate and future of American “big government” and the middle class it created.

Ever since the Reagan Revolution, the phrase “big government” has been on the lips of Republican politicians. They utter it like a curse at every opportunity.

It seems paradoxical: Republicans complain about “big government,” but then go on to support more and more government money for expanding prisons and a bloated Pentagon budget. Once you understand their worldview, however, it all makes perfect sense.

First, some background.

From the founding of our republic through the early 1930s the American middle class was relatively small. It was almost entirely made up of the professional and mercantile class: doctors, lawyers, shop-owners and the like. Only a tiny percentage of Americans were what we would today call middle class.

Factory workers, farmers, carpenters, plumbers, and pretty much all manner of “unskilled laborers” were the working poor rather than the middle class. Most neighborhoods across America had a quality of life even lower than what today we would call “ghettos.”

As recently as 1900, for example, women couldn’t vote, senators were appointed by the wealthiest power brokers in the states, and poverty stalked America.

There was no minimum wage; when workers tried to organize unions, police would help employers beat or even murder their ringleaders; and social safety net programs like unemployment insurance, Social Security, public schools, Medicare, food and housing supports, and Medicaid didn’t exist.

There was no income tax to pay for such programs, and federal receipts were a mere 3…

Thom Hartmann

America’s #1 progressive talk show host & NY Times bestselling author. Thom’s writings also appear at