Matt Gaetz: A Threat To US Democracy Or Just A Polarising Figure
Republic politician Matt Gaetz has been the US representative for Florida’s 1st congressional district since 2017. In the six years he’s served, he has been the subject of a vortex of drama, especially regarding his moves to shut down Congress.
From a motion to vacate Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker to pedophilia and sex trafficking, Matt Gaetz is a man even Republicans speak out against. This post will dive into why Gaetz’s political upheaval, as petty as it seems, threatens US democratic values.
Gaetz has been the subject of controversy and a threat to democracy even before recent events with rep. McCarthy’s vacation of his position. He’s slandered his fellow members of Congress, tweeted unsavory things after people’s deaths, and even sided with far-right pundits.
The controversies started in 2016 with his tweet criticizing the protests from athletes after the death of Jose Fernandez, a Miami Marlins pitcher.
Then, in 2018, he came under fire for inviting an alt-right holocaust denier to Trump’s State of the Union address. Gaetz claimed he wasn’t a holocaust denier or a white supremacist later on.
Gaetz has a history of also associating with white nationalist and far-right groups. In 2019, he hired Darren Beattle, who attended a conference associated with white nationalism. Later, he was fired by Trump. Gaetz also attended political rallies in 2018 and 2019, where Proud Boys were present and provided security at these events.
Then, in 2019, during the Michael Cohen hearing, Gaetz implied in a tweet that Cohen had extramarital affairs. He tweeted this to tamper with evidence and intimidate a witness. Trump did the same thing.
He claimed it wasn’t threats or witness intimidation, just “witness testing.” He also claimed it was “challenging the veracity .” He eventually apologized after further criticism and even rebuke from Nancy Pelosi herself. The tweets have since been deleted.
Overturning Election Results
Gaetz has worked with Marjorie Taylor Greene to debunk the 2020 election results. He’s one of Trump’s biggest supporters and is working with Trump’s 2024 reelection campaign.
The two started with their ongoing campaign to expose the truth of the election in the America First Tour on May 7, 2021, in Florida. During this, both Gaetz and Greene claimed fraud during the 2020 election.
“They began in Florida and then moved to other states, encouraging election audits. During their tour, Gaetz calls Arizona a “launchpad for future audits of different states.” Both representatives supported former President Trump and discussed how campaigning would change the 2020 election results.
January 6th Comments
“Gaetz has always spoken proudly of the events on January 6. It’s been a considerable part of his campaign. He even said in a conference, along with Marjorie Taylor Green, that, “January 6 wasn’t an insurrection…but it may very well have been a resurrection.” He claimed he was “exposing the truth,” but the campaign intended to get others riled up, especially with the controversy surrounding this event.
During the War Room podcast with Steve Bannon, Gaetz and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga) said, “We’re ashamed of nothing. We’re proud of our work on January 6 to make legitimate arguments about election integrity.”
Matt Gaetz and Kevin McCarthy
The most significant recent controversy recently surrounding Matt Gaetz is his bitter disdain for McCarthy, to the point where McCarthy was removed as House Speaker with the final vote being 216-210. The motion caused exasperation among many people.
It began in 2021 when McCarthy complained during a phone call about Gaetz. He mentioned that Gatz was “putting people in jeopardy.” Matt Gaetz has expressed disdain for McCarthy, who desired to be speaker. It was to the point where he even moved his items into the speaker’s suite.
This caused a response from Getz, and in this tweet, he mentions that McCarthy hasn’t won the position. It required 218 votes for him to occupy this position, which he did not have. However, many people criticize Gaetz because of his reaction, which was far more excessive than the January 6 events. Other Republicans, including Republican Whip Steve Scalise, accused Gaetz of “potentially illegal” behavior.
Gaetz began this motion by accusing McCarthy of backdoor deals with Democrats. This included a side deal with Biden over Ukraine Aid to get a bill passed before the government shutdown.
McCarthy denied this, but it fanned the flames for Gaetz to continue. With the threat of a government shutdown on the horizon threatening many services, something needed to be done. Funding would end on October 1, and a shutdown was imminent if a plan wasn’t proposed.
Many conservatives wanted to stop the funding and slash the spending. Some even wanted to remake the government. Other conservatives even counteracted that a government shutdown would have benefits rather than drawbacks.
After McCarthy negotiated with Biden to increase the debt ceiling by $1.59 trillion in June, republicans acted. One of them being Matt Gaetz. Gaetz threatened to remove McCarthy’s bid for the speaker position in January, even going so far as removing him from office.
Gaetz also went so far as to confront McCarthy, asking whether he was saying negative things about him. McCarthy retorted that he would never waste time.
At this point, it turned into a back-and-forth between House members, with bills being delayed. McCarthy blamed Gaetz for this, along with other conservatives. Once the shutdown was prevented with Biden signing McCarthy’s bill, Gaetz retaliated.
The Motion to Vacate
The standoff between Gaetz and McCarthy eventually ended. After preventing a government shutdown, Gaetz filed a motion to vacate McCarthy’s position as speaker. While some democrats were fine with this, Gaetz rallied other conservatives to push against this.
Gaetz continued with his motion and began the actions to oust McCarthy from the seat. This included forcing a vote, which followed through on his threat to take away the gavel from McCarthy as the shutdown loomed.
The move was forced and unprecedented, and while the vote was close, on October 3, 2023, the House voted, removing McCarthy from office. This was an unprecedented removal.
Gaetz said this happened because “nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy,” and he claimed this was needed to get things on track. He has since rallied other representatives to have this same mindset.
While vacation of the Speaker position has happened before, the actions of Gaetz to remove someone so forcefully have been unheard of, especially through rallying other conservatives to develop the same mindset.
He’s willing to throw others under the bus and face the backlash. The goal of this is to get eyeballs on his antics. He knows he is losing support but does this to get people to talk about him and maybe help him in the future.
Disdain from Conservatives
Many conservatives also have had it with Gaetz. From the Freedom Caucus on the far right to just regular conservatives, many are tired of his antics.
Debbie Lesko, a congresswoman for Arizona, dismissed Gaetz and called him nothing more than a show horse that’s more interested in booking TV hits than passing legislation.
Rep Mike Lawler, a moderate, blamed the shutdown on Gaetz. He said, “Unfortunately, a handful of people, and in particular a party of one — Matt Gaetz — have chosen to put his agenda, his agenda, above all else. He even goes so far as to say, “he’s not a conservative republican. He’s a charlatan. And as far as I’m concerned, when you’re working with Democrats to vacate the speaker, you’re a joke. This needs to come to an end.”
Gaetz quipped on this, saying, “I’ll get my blanket and curl up in a corner and, you know, call my therapist and see how to work through all my feelings.” An unprofessional response when called out by his conservative peers.”Gaetz further quipped on this, saying, “I’ll get my blanket and curl up in a corner and, you know, call my therapist and see how to work through all my feelings.” An unprofessional response when called out by his conservative peers.
Other members of the House have said, “No one can stand him at this point. A smart guy without morals.” These statements prove Gaetz is not only hated by the left and center side of things for his actions, but he’s also a backstabber that many far-right wingers don’t want anything to do with.
Sex Trafficking Charge
Gaetz is no stranger to scandals, with the most notable being a sex trafficking charge that occurred from 2021-2023. The charge was that Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl. This investigation was in conjunction with Joel Greenberg, a tax collector and associate of Gaetz, receiving charges for sex trafficking. While Gaetz has received accusations of sexual misconduct before, this was the first significant accusation.
As part of a plea deal, Greenberg provided information to investigators about Gaetz. In 2022, Greenberg was sentenced to 11 years. One piece of evidence Greenberg had was a confession letter, which claimed that Gaetz had sex with the minor.
‘Gaetz denied the claim and said that he was not resigning from his position. In 2023, the DOJ said that they were not charging Gaetz. Beforehand, prosecutors recommended not charging him because of the witness’ unreliability. Despite this, many investigators claimed that there was evidence to prove that Gaetz had some involvement and that the two-tiered justice system was why he got away with it.‘ Gaetz denied the claim and said that he was not resigning from his position. In 2023, the DOJ said that they were not charging Gaetz. Beforehand, prosecutors recommended not charging him because of the witness’ unreliability. Despite this, many investigators claimed that there was evidence to prove that Gaetz had some involvement and that the two-tiered justice system was why he got away with it.
“In 2021, Gaetz Tweeted the FBI should be defunded during the investigation. He tweeted,” If Democrats want to defund the police, they should start with the FBI.” He also claimed FBI operatives were involved with January 6 the week before. “In 2021, Gaetz Tweeted the FBI should be defunded during the investigation. He tweeted, “If Democrats want to defund the police, they should start with the FBI.” He also claimed FBI operatives were involved with January 6 the week before.
Does Matt Gaetz have Bigger Goals?
Matt Gaetz has had many controversies that only he could get away with in his over half-decade as a representative. All of which happened before he was 40. At 41, as of this article, we expect to see Matt Gaetz expand his political career, and this may include running for Florida governor.
In 2026, the current Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, cannot run again, as he will have reached his term limit. The news media has claimed that Gaetz is expected to run for governor in the 2026 race, but Gaetz has denied this, saying he is focused on Donald Trump’s 2024 reelection campaign.