Some of them are calling for civil disobedience. Others talk ominously of guerrilla warfare. One called for (presumably unarmed) phalanxes to block the entry doors next week. Someone else suggested chaining people to the podium. They threatened to keep everyone up till all hours Wednesday night, but got tired and let things end. No, we're not talking about some group of college students. We're talking about the Republican members of the House of Representatives, who are hopping mad and looking for ways to convince the world and their Democratic colleagues that this time, no fooling, they really mean it.
They do have some things to be angry about. They think the Democrats are cheating them out of the disputed Indiana 8th district seat; and, while we think the Democratic-controlled task force counted votes fairly and accurately, it had to make the kind of fine judgments about which votes to count that inevitably arouse skepticism in the minority. Republicans are angry that the Democrats won't give them their fair share of seats on major committees and subcommittees, and rightly so; committees should reflect strength on the floor, and the Democrats' packing of Energy and Commerce and other panels is bad legislative practice. The House Democrats are acting like members of a majority party who expect never to be in the minority themselves, and House Republicans understandably don't like it.
But, like students who decide to put off their rebellion until they finish their term papers, the House Republicans are finding themselves postponing their protests. Wednesday, for example, House Republican Leader Robert Michel, with the young rebels following suit, decided to focus Republicans' attention on the Nicaragua aid measure. "Today is another important day legislatively," he said. "I've got a job to get done in the interests of the country." The younger House Republicans who have criticized Mr. Michel and other party veterans did the same. Yesterday, Republicans tied up the House with demands for roll calls. But the predictable result was that Democratic Whip Thomas Foley yanked a State Department bill the Reagan administration wants considered.
The House Republicans are facing an uncomfortable fact: they are not part of a hopelessly outnumbered and beleaguered minority; they are part of the party of government. True, they're still outnumbered in the House (and add several grains of salt to their claim that this results from Democratic gerrymandering), but they're close enough to a working majority that they can actually win some important issues (the MX) and come tantalizingly close on others (Nicaragua). They blow off steam with talk of civil disobedience. But it doesn't make much sense to talk about guerrilla warfare when you already control most of the government. The House Republicans are going to realize, when they get to the uncomfortable issues raised by the Reagan budget -- if sethey don't know already -- that they bear a lot of the responsibility for making government work. Chaining themselves to the podium to spite Tip O'Neill will be fun for all -- especially for us, and we hate to discourage it. But, all things considered, it is not what's wanted at this time.