This write-up spoils a medium-sized plot suggest midway though the Netflix drama, "House the Cards." If friend don"t desire the spoiler, protect against reading. You"ve been warned.

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A an essential moment in "House the Cards" comes once House bulk Whip frank Underwood pulls off a very complicated — and very quick — coup that requires Underwood threaten to hold together the Congressional black Caucus and a grasp of residence Republicans to poll for a new speaker the the House.


It"s a system that you would think you"d see in the genuine Congress much more often. Why wouldn"t the decimal party, knowing it doesn"t have actually the votes to elect its very own speaker yet it does have actually the votes come swing the choice to a friendly speak from the majority, use its leverage strategically? Why, instead, execute they futilely throw your votes far on a standard-bearer from their side if the aisle? politics scientist Seth Masket explains:


The main difficulty is the Underwood"s bluff would not have been remotely believable in real life. The idea that entirety Republican caucus would join together to earlier a democratic candidate because that Speaker? that basically never happens. I checked in with a bunch the congressional professionals (well, two: Greg Koger and also Jeff Jenkins) ~ above this and also confirmed that the last time the majority of one party donate a speaker candidate indigenous the various other party was 1839. Voting because that Speaker is the specifying partisan plot for any member of the U.S. House; civilization who poll for a candidate of one more party usually perform not last long in the chamber.
Now, I need to note the this occasionally happens in state legislatures, but not inconsequentially. Because that example, republicans took over the California Assembly by one seat in 1994. Outgoing speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) brokered a deal in which Assemblywoman Dorris Allen (R-Orange County) came to be Speaker through every autonomous vote and also one Republican vote — her own. How did Republican activists in her residence district reaction to the fact that their member was now Speaker, the first Republican speak in decades and the very first female speak in the state"s history? castle recalled her. Conspiring v Democrats was sufficient to ruin her politics career.

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All that this is come say the legislative parties carry out not operate in a vacuum, and also members of congress (even influential legislative leaders) can"t manipulate lock at will without expecting far-reaching consequences indigenous party activists external the chamber. This sorts of stunts usually don"t work. Other members recognize that, which is why people don"t usually shot to traction these stunts in the very first place.