pelosi

Photo (with edits): Gage Skidmore // CC BY-SA 2.0

After the Democrats’ resounding victory to regain control of the House of Representatives, the hot topic of discussion turned to the speakership. Would Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) once again become the Speaker of the House for the incoming 116th Congress or would Democrats elect a new speaker? 

A power struggle ensued with more public opposition to Pelosi than many anticipated. What surprised me about this opposition was not its existence, but its fierceness. This made me wonder what crime Pelosi had committed to earn the contempt of so many Democrats.

After some internet research, I discovered Pelosi’s unforgivable crime: She has served her country honorably through government service for too many years. 

One may ask when in her 16 years as leader of House Democrats did Nancy Pelosi’s service suddenly turn from something admirable to a deal breaker? I don’t know the answer to that, but neither do her detractors. 

But her opponents, some of whom are part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, have decided that because Pelosi is part of the establishment, they want new, younger leadership. That is a perfectly valid wish. The idea of fresh leadership has strong appeal and denotes energy. But if that is why they want her replaced, then they should say so instead of making inaccurate claims about her suitability. 

Instead, what we see are various ludicrous assertions about her. Some claim that she is not liberal enough. For three decades she has served the people of San Francisco, a liberal bastion, and championed some of the causes closest to their hearts: LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and civil rights in general.

Credit: Quinn Dombrowski Photo: Quinn Dombrowski // CC BY-SA 2.0

Others feel that she and the other leaders of the House Democratic establishment have lost sight of liberal priorities and care only about holding on to power. This ignores the nearly two decades she has spent leading Democrats in their fight to protect those Americans whose rights are most vulnerable to conservative attacks. Anyone who has followed Pelosi’s tenure as Democratic Leader has witnessed what a tireless advocate she has been for all Americans. 

The energy she has put into getting things done in Washington is impressive. She was instrumental in leading America out of the Great Recession; in passing the Affordable Care Act; in repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the discriminatory policy that prohibited openly gay people from serving in the military; and in passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which provided women a better chance to fight gender-based pay discrimination.

“After some internet research, I discovered Pelosi’s unforgivable crime: She has served her country honorably through government service for too many years. ”

Being an effective Speaker of the House requires tremendous political acumen and tenacity. It demands of you the ability to take hundreds of competing policy ideas and requests and synthesize them into legislation. 

Recently, former President Obama praised Pelosi. “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 said. “Nancy is not always the best on a cable show or with a quick sound bite ... but her skill, tenacity, toughness, vision, is remarkable.” 

I suspect that the attacks on Pelosi stem from the recognition that she is by far the strongest candidate to take up the gavel as the next Speaker of the House. The only way for them to take her down is to try and tarnish her record and reputation. But she deserves better than to be targeted by disingenuous attacks. 

Moreover, with Democrats poised to take control of the House, Congress will finally provide a check on the Executive branch making it all the more important that Democrats have the right person at the helm. Using the power of House oversight for reckless and purely politically motivated attacks on the Trump administration would only hurt Democrats and the country as a whole. Pushing for a premature impeachment may win a Congressperson extra Twitter followers, but it’s short-sighted and bad for the party as a whole. 

Pelosi is smart enough to know that and will ensure that Democrats pursue the Trump administration only when there is reason to believe that laws or ethical rules have been broken, and provide a check on the elements within the Democratic Party that would act unwisely. 

She is the right person for the job and the leader the country needs right now. 

MICHAEL A. KESHMIRI is a College senior from Stockholm, Sweden studying political science. His email address is mkesh@sas.upenn.edu.

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