Only a few minutes ago, I posted an article questioning the future of the Democratic Party. Of course, there’s no better question facing the Democrats than the one a surprising number of people has asked me: “Should Nancy Pelosi step down?” Sometimes, they’re asking if she should retire from congress altogether. Sometimes, they mean she should just resign the leadership, and pass the torch. Most of the time, they don’t really seem to care where she goes as long as she does.
Well, I admitted in that article that I had been a steadfast supporter of the nefarious-sounding “Democratic Establishment,” and all the DSW, Obama, Hillary, Tom Perez-figures that implies, but I’m not quite willing to go to bat for 77-year-old Nancy Pelosi. And even though I do like her, and think she’s been unfairly demonized over the decades–the key word in that sentence is decades. If you put a gun to my head, and said I couldn’t punt, I honestly think she should step down from the House leadership.
Here’s why I say that: 1. She has been the House Democratic leader (minority and majority) for 14 years. 2. In that same time period, Republicans have had three people leading them in Hassert, John Boehner, and now the compliant bimbo Paul Ryan. 3. During Pelosi’s tenure, the Democrats have only been in the majority 4 out of 14 of those years. That’s not even a third of the time and there are only two parties.
Something ain’t working folks. As much as I still believe Bernie would’ve lost to Trump too, and may have even cost Hillary the election, I’ll also admit that something in the current Democratic direction is just not clicking. Many people are pointing the finger at a congressional leadership that is entirely made up of coastal Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Pelosi who are safer-than-safe.
To me, it’s a much bigger problem that Pelosi’s district is a wealthy one in San Francisco (one of the two most expensive cities in America) and Schumer’s is New York (the other most expensive). How can districts flooded with Silicon Valley and Wall Street billionaires possibly give Pelosi or Schumer a sense of the Hoi Polloi Democrats have to win back? How can Pelosi–the 14th wealthiest person in the House of Representatives and a long-running “limousine liberal” punchline–really win over the working class?
I know, I know, I’m being unfair, and definitely more than I mean to be. Truthfully, Pelosi has been a great Speaker of the House, and a tireless champion of Democratic legislation. But being “tireless” doesn’t necessarily mean the people aren’t tired of you. And the belief that Democrats have not done a good job bringing up the next generation because of a leadership that is paranoid about protecting their turf—100-year-old Charlie Rangel had a united Democratic leadership behind him, Anthony Weiner did not—is mostly because of Pelosi.
She’s had a great run, but nothing lasts forever. 14 years is fantastic, and she should feel proud. More importantly, she should go out proud rather than being replaced at 80 by Tim Ryan in a nasty, divisive leadership tussle.