Pelosi’s Victory Keeps Hope Alive

nancy pelosiThings have been really depressing for progressives in the past few weeks. Democrats lost the U.S. House, and keeping a slim Senate majority was somewhat of a “gag prize” – as Harry Reid’s Senate has been a cesspool where progressive legislation goes to die. President Obama appears totally clueless about what message to take from this election – he even told reporters this week that he had not been bi-partisan enough.

But we got some good news yesterday, when House Democrats voted 150-43 to keep Nancy Pelosi on as Minority Leader – despite a challenge from Blue Dog conservative Heath Shuler. In the past two years, Pelosi has been far more assertive at pushing progressive policies than Obama or Reid – and it would have been tragic to see her take the fall. It also proved that House Democrats are angry about the lack of action, and chose to keep her in control. If Democrats make a comeback in 2012, it will be partially because they didn’t throw Nancy Pelosi under a bus.

The House Democratic vote to keep Pelosi (done by secret ballot) defied much historical precedent. When the party in power takes a shellacking like the Democrats just did this year, not only is there a “shake-up” in their caucus – but the House Speaker often resigns from Congress altogether. When Republicans lost their majority in 2006, Dennis Hastert resigned. Newt Gingrich quit a mere three days after the November 1998 elections, even though the Republicans had still kept a majority – but they did far worse than expected. And if Tom Foley had not lost re-election back in 1994, he would have resigned as well.

In fact, there had been talk in San Francisco circles that Nancy Pelosi was going to resign her seat and become the next Mayor – now that Gavin Newsom was elected Lieutenant Governor. But Pelosi made it clear that she fully intended to remain in Washington.

And she fully deserves to. In the past two years, the House passed health care reform with a public option, climate change reform, a tougher stimulus – only to see them go crashing down in the Senate, as Reid and Obama allowed Joe Lieberman ran the show. At the Netroots Nation conference in July, Pelosi made it clear how frustrated she was with the complete inaction in the Senate – “we don’t know what can pass the Senate … ever.”

paul hogarthPredictably, Republicans and corporate Blue Dogs wanted to kick Nancy Pelosi when she’s down – and blame her for the failures of others. But it was Pelosi who had pushed back against a defeatist Obama Administration – when they wanted to “scale back” health care reform after Democrats lost their 60th vote in the Senate. It was Nancy Pelosi who had engineered the Democratic takeover in 2006 – when others like Rahm Emanuel argued that the key was recruiting Blue Dogs like Heath Shuler.

The future still looks grim for progressives in 2011 – as the right-wing smells blood and wants to repeal any progress we made in the past two years. But with Nancy Pelosi still there as House Minority Leader, I have hope that Democrats won’t completely play dead.

Paul Hogarth

Republished with permission from BeyondChron.


  1. Joe Weinstein says

    The country will not be well served if in 2012 the Dems renominate the feckless (and apparently wannabe Republican) guy now in the White House.

    At this point it looks like the best news of all for the Dems would be to see Nancy take leave from the House in summer 2013 – as Democratic Presidential nominee!!

  2. says

    Nancy Pelosi has perhaps the strongest backbone in all of Congress, counting men as well as women and Republicans as well as Democrats. I hope that her persistence, tenacity, and courage will bring the Democrats back into control of the House in 2012, but hopefully all of them will have a stronger backbone as well. They had their chances with their majority and wasted the opportunities to do more, although I believe that history will show Pelosi to be one of the strongest, most effective House speakers in our nation. She and the Democrats did much more than we the general public know, but they failed to trumpet their achievements as loudly and persistently as the Republicans trumpeted their distortions of the Obama administration and of Pelosi in particular.

    Our president tried for two years to govern in a bipartisan manner, and the Republicans stymied all progress for our nation. In light of the Republicans’ publicized, continuing intention to focus on “bringing down” Obama, our President and Democrats need to forget bipartisanship and move forward quickly with doing the right thing for Americans; because we can count on the Republicans to do the “right thing” only for the wealthy, the non-ethnic minorities, and the retrogressives who want to take our nation back 100 years.

    Americans who voted for Republicans in the mid-terms will very quickly realize their big mistake, starting with today’s news that Republicans have rejected extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans. So much for their campaign promises to help unemployed Americans! And things will only get worse from here: with their plans to gut the little bit of healthcare reform we got, to gut Wall Street reform, and to rattle plenty of sabers on the foreign policy front and undo what our diplomatic President has accomplished in trying to revamp the American image around the world. In short, by promising to “repeal and replace,” the Republicans, especially the Tea Partiers, will succeed in “repealing and regressing” into eras of our nation’s history filled with much greater injustices than what we see today.

  3. Wes Tipton says

    Keeping her around is a great idea, and it will greatly benefit the GOP in 2012! That woaman is so far left she’s not even in the ballpark, and her inane ideas are hurting this country badly.
    Two more years of her nonsense and there won’t be anybody voting Democrat. If all she has to ride on are the illegal and failed stimulus, a health reform that will bankrupt us it ever comes to fruition, (and it’s negative effects are already quite evident), and this pro-amnesty fiasco that we can not afford, then yep, she’s worth keeping.
    Within 6 months her supporters will be scratching their heads and mumbling that famous phrase, “what were we thinking?”

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