Legislative scuffles breaking out on the floors of parliaments are a tradition as old as democracy itself, dating back at least to the Ides of March. Sometimes a good dust-up is necessary to restore the norms and decorum of the democratic process. From Egypt to Canada, to Japan, Kenya and Great Britain, physical altercations between government representatives have become a regular occurrence.
The United States Congress, though, has astonishingly been mostly free of violence between colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Consider that we even made it through the Trump years without a single physical confrontation in the White House or the halls of Congress. Sure, CNN’s Jim Acosta tried to fake a soccer injury by wrestling over a microphone with a young female intern, but for the most part that was about it. The closest we may have come in recent memory was when Representative Mike Rogers lunged at Representative Matt Gaetz during the House speaker vote of early 2023.
But on Monday, we had reports of two incidences that had to be quashed, one involving Gaetz’s arch-nemesis, ousted speaker Kevin McCarthy. Representative Tim Burchett accused McCarthy of sucker-punching him in his kidneys. Burchett voted in favor of McCarthy’s ouster last month. McCarthy has since denied targeting Burchett and simply said he passed him in a crowded hallway. But why should McCarthy have to deny anything? Clear the hallways, roll up the sleeves and get it on. The animus is clearly there, and Burchett would likely be a tuning-up tomato can for a McCarthy bout with Gaetz — the match everyone wants to see anyway.
In the same building, Senator Markwayne Mullin challenged labor union leader Sean O’Brien to a match of fisticuffs, when Mullin read O’Brien’s insulting tweets. Mullin asked if O’Brien wanted to have a go, and O’Brien responded in the affirmative. Both men stood up, with Mullin removing his ring, until referee Senator Bernie Sanders intervened.
I should note that Bernie would make a perfect-looking boxing referee, right down to the neat little bow tie. The scene was reminiscent of then-Attorney General Bobby Kennedy squaring up against labor icon Jimmy Hoffa. It’s worth noting that Mullin also carries Cherokee in his bloodline and has competed in mixed martial arts, which is nothing to mess around with; once again, the American people were robbed of a long-overdue legislative gladiator match.
Times are fraught, despite Joe Biden promising his election would lower the temperature around the country. There are anti-Israel riots happening nationwide. The conditions are perfect for an old-fashioned American slugfest. We deserve Lauren Boebert versus Marjorie Taylor Greene in the restroom, or the agility of Ted Cruz’s basketball skills put to the raw brute size and strength of John Fetterman (think Oberyn versus the Mountain in Game of Thrones). Senator Kyrsten Sinema might be in the best shape of any senator in the chamber, and she’s not well-liked by her own party. Why not match her up against someone who came from the tough streets of New Jersey, like Cory Booker? He already thinks he’s Spartacus. And speaking of Cherokee blood, Elizabeth Warren could take some of her ancestral rage out on cowboy John Cornyn of Texas.
Sometimes senseless physical violence is needed to restore faith and order — everyone from the Romans to the Irish have partaken in it. A good congressional punch-up might solve a lot of our problems and help bridge the divide in our own House. Let them fight.