After six rounds of voting, as of Wednesday, the United States House of Representatives had not yet elected a speaker. And the House voted on Wednesday evening to adjourn until Thursday, with the Republicans still seeking a way forward.
If the Capitol Hill riot can be regarded as a violent attack on the US political system by extremists from the outside, the deadlock over the election of the House speaker is symptomatic of the splits caused by extremism in the legislature.
That House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who is known as an ultraconservative politician, and who was widely viewed as a certainty for the position, has not yet secured the post is due to 20 holdouts of the so-called Freedom Caucus, extremist conservatives in the Republican Party, who stubbornly refuse to support him. That's despite his opposition to the clean power act and the Paris Agreement, his promises to roll back Biden administration legislation and his inflammatory anti-China remarks.
They are rejecting McCarthy not because they don't agree with him but because they consider him "not tough enough". It is symptomatic of the hold the fringe element now has on US politics as a result of the polarization that has fomented in US society over many years.
While it has taken on the appearance of a farce, what is unfolding in the House will have far-reaching consequences.
At a time when the two mainstream political parties in the US have become intractably antagonistic, their internal divisions are also becoming increasingly prominent. This has given rise to a dangerous and completely irrational tendency in Washington to introduce China as a determining factor in any issue as a means to suppress, ease and deflect the internal political divisions.
China's rapid development, huge economic size, second only to that of the US, and different political system mean it is easily portrayed as a challenge to US supremacy and is the one thing that all the political factions can talk about without being at each other's throats.
No wonder in the US Congress, some lawmakers are racing to show their toughness on China. There is no toughest, only tougher. Gradually, they have fallen victim to collective self-hypnosis and have lost sight of the reality that the enemy of "American democracy" is American democracy as it is being exercised now.
Taking advantage of the House's interval, McCarthy's team has reportedly made an offer to his conservative opponents agreeing to "substantive" rule changes and other process issues they have demanded. They are reviewing the proposal now, which is nothing but de facto horse trading within the House-controlling Republican Party.
Clearly, those sitting at the table of the US political system have no manners and they will greedily carve up the national interests irrespective of who is clamoring for a bigger slice of the action.