Democrats Continuing to Fight Pelosi Are Doing the Work of the Republican Party
To all those Democrats who are still opposing Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, it's time to wake up. This is not the time to toss overboard the person who has the experience and skills to hold the new Democratic coalition together.
Some newly elected progressive Democrats like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez originally suggested Nancy Pelosi isn’t progressive enough for them. She now has changed her position and endorsed her, obviously realizing Republicans have been attacking Leader Pelosi for years as a "San Francisco liberal," too progressive for the country.
Democrats like Rep. Seth Moulton, leading the charge to get rid of Pelosi, have a lot to learn. At a recent town hall the women of his district tried to educate him and pushed back.
A new class of Democrats got elected, and now they need to learn how to pass legislation. Pelosi, a recognized environmentalist, supporter of the rights of minorities, women and the LGBTQ+ community, can teach them how to do that. She understands the federal budget and the process needed to move legislation through the House even in tough times, and is rightfully credited with corralling the votes needed to pass the Affordable Care Act. She is a master strategist and fundraiser. Many of the candidates who now oppose her won their races with money she helped raise.
Recently Pelosi spoke at the Institute for Politics at the Kennedy School at Harvard. Those who oppose her should listen to what she said.
She "ticked off a legislative to-do list including lowering health care costs, spearheading a national infrastructure plan and pushing for changes to campaign finance laws," and she talked about introducing gun control legislation.
“The California Democrat said she wasn’t worried about Democrats campaigning for the House in part by opposing her as speaker, telling candidates: 'Do whatever you have to do, just win, baby.'"
Pelosi needs 218 votes in the House to be elected Speaker. There will be 234 or 235 Democrats in the House on January 3, 2019, so Pelosi can afford to lose the votes of a few. Sixteen Democrats recently signed a letter to oppose her and one, Brian Higgins (D-NY) has already changed his mind and endorsed her. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), who considered opposing her has now endorsed her.
Pelosi is proving the master strategist and will secure the needed votes. She has been endorsed by most progressive groups and the most respected Democrat in the country, President Barack Obama. He said of her, "I think Nancy Pelosi, when the history is written, will go down as one of the most effective legislative leaders that this country's ever seen.”
He added, "Nancy is not always the best on a cable show or with a quick soundbite or what have you, but her skill, tenacity, toughness, vision, is remarkable. Her stamina, her ability to see around corners, her ability to stand her ground and do hard things and to suffer unpopularity to get the right thing done, I think, stands up against any person that I've observed or worked directly with in Washington during my lifetime. What's most important are the 'nuts and bolts' of governance; the blocking and tackling involved in actually getting things across the finish line and my experience has been that Nancy Pelosi knows how to do that, and she was an extraordinary partner for me throughout my presidency."
Democrats continuing to fight Pelosi are doing the work of the Republican Party.
The infighting will hurt the ability of Democrats to move forward a coordinated agenda. They might also keep in mind when Pelosi wins and she will, she appoints committee chairs, controls committee assignments, and decides what bills come to the floor.
Democrats need to bring a new generation into leadership positions and Pelosi should have done that before. She can do it now by expanding the leadership. If Democrats take back the Senate and the White House in 2020 we can have this debate again. Now is not the time.
Now Democrats must unite, not an easy task, as they have the most diverse caucus ever elected. Some districts elected progressives, others elected moderates. They will all need something to take back to their districts when they are up for reelection in 2020. The only person who can help them go home with what they need is Nancy Pelosi. She is a proven winner, a proven master of strategy. She knows how the House of Representatives works and is the master at bending it to her will – in this case to the will of Democrats across the nation.
Peter Rosenstein is a community and Democratic activist based in Washington, DC, where he appears in the media as a commentator on issues including LGBT rights, politics and education. His columns may be found here.
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