Democrats Experiment With The Idea Of Not Letting Nancy Pelosi Be Speaker Of The House
Update: Pelosi’s would-be opponent for Speaker, Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio, announced she would support Pelosi. Fudge will chair a subcommittee on elections. Her decision not to challenge all but ensures Pelosi will be Speaker when the next Congress convenes in January.
Pelosi tried to downplay the issue, saying during a news conference she would only take one question about it; later noting she ended up answering six. Pelosi tried to shift focus onto a lot of legislative business in front of her right now, which she argues is far more important than whether she’s elected Speaker or not. At the same time saying she’s confident she does have the votes to win it, and she’s convinced she’s the best person for the job. She also pointedly refused to criticize the Democrats in Congress who may be considering opposing her, saying of their recent performance in the Midterm Elections: “they all spoke out beautifully for the people.”
Behind the scenes, Pelosi met privately with leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Afterwards, Representative Pramila Jayapal issued a statement. It’s not an explicit endorsement of Pelosi, but does praise her for promising Progressive Caucus members “are represented proportionally” on key House committees, and agreeing that there should be opportunities for brand new electees.
Still, Pelosi opponents like Massachusetts’ 2nd term Representative Seth Moulton have long expressed intent to bring a change to House leadership. And Ohio’s Marcia Fudge, who’s been in the House for 10 years, and is former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, says she’s considering a run for Speaker. At first insisting she has no firm plan yet: for now, just putting her name out there to see if it gains any traction. “I need to give it some thought and see if I have an interest”, Fudge said. But just a day later she told the Washington Post: “Over the last 12 hours, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support I’ve received”.
Fudge would be a perfectly reasonable choice. Here’s a clip of her questioning Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at a hearing earlier this year:
This is a tough one for us:
Pelosi’s been strong and effective. Her leadership was unbelievably crucial in getting Obamacare passed. And don’t forget earlier this year when she made in the history of the House of Representatives by giving the longest speech ever there: 8 hours, no breaks, protesting in support of immigrants living in the country under the DACA program. It didn’t work, DACA still hasn’t been resolved. Still, it was amazing.
Here’s a clip of .006% of Pelosi’s speech that day, when she defines the role immigrants play right now in America:
And we do feel Pelosi’s being unjustly vilified by some in her own party, partly because they too have succumbed to the Republican anti-Pelosi talking points that have been so effective over the years. That’s since pollster Frank Luntz discovered Pelosi rubbed a lot of voters the wrong way, and urged Republicans to run their candidates against her, regardless of who they were actually running against. This strategy worked for Republicans for decades. So it would be sad and ironic if it’s a major factor in ousting her from leadership of the House.
Also we speak from personal experience: as people who worked in the internet industry way back in the 90’s, we spend way too much time these days trying to convince people who came in much later that “old” isn’t necessarily “bad” and “young” isn’t necessarily “better”. Sometimes is helps to have some experience and perspective and saves you the trouble of having to invent the same things over and over again.
At the same time, the situation’s a little different here: Democrats did so well in the House in the Midterm Elections to a great extent because individual candidates presented themselves as dynamic, fresh, free thinkers, new blood. That resonated with voters. Many of those first-time winners didn’t have strong ties to “traditional” Democrats and party. And that dynamism will be their greatest asset going into 2020 too. So it’s something the party needs to seize on and run with, even if it ultimately means putting in someone new at the top.
For those of you who argue that’s risky, and might lead to weak leadership at this crucial time in history, we’d argue back that the House Majority Leader and Majority Whip are there to prevent that. Yes, someone needs to be there who knows how to navigate Capitol Hill, cut deals, knows when to pick fights and use muscle and knows when not to, and cajoles and threatens and does whatever is necessary to keep the party’s priorities moving forward as forcefully as possible, while keeping Democratic Members of the House together as much as possible. Democrats have already indicated they’ll support Maryland’s Steny Hoyer for the Majority Leader position. He’s been in the House for almost 40 years and would do just fine at making sure everyone stays strong and effective.
We also reject the argument we see a lot on social media these days, that opposing Pelosi is a sign of deep ingratitude (and ignorance of political history) on the part of upstarts in the House, who should be happy enough they won their seats and just get on board. We also disagree that rocking the boat a little right now will cause great damage to the coherence of the Democratic party. This is the best possible time to examine new ways of doing things and might lead to some better and different paths and priorities even if leadership doesn’t ultimately change. That way, if Pelosi prevails, which is still the most likely outcome, it’ll underscore — perhaps even to some of those newly-elected progressives — that she’s tough and savvy as they come.
There’s still plenty of time to figure this one out. The vote for Speaker won’t happen until January 3rd. Some House races still haven’t been called. And newly-elected Representatives have only just gone through their Capitol Hill orientation. And everyone right now just seems to be feeling out how much support Pelosi does or does not have.
Meanwhile on the Republican side, California’s Kevin McCarthy won the Minority Leadership, soundly thrashing Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio. Jordan you may remember from his berserk questioning of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He got only 43 votes, compared to McCarthy’s 159.
We’re interested in your opinion. If you support returning Pelosi to House Speaker, or believe it’s time to put someone new in that position, please let us know, and we’ll publish some of the responses later on. firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks in advance!