Op-Ed: Nancy Pelosi

Salaar Khan

Staff Writer

   We are approaching a pivotal point in American history.  Weeks ago, the American people delivered an undeniable victory for the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives.   During the recent 2018 midterms, Democrats picked up almost forty seats in the House, sealing a significant majority for them in the lower chamber of Congress.  At the heart of this electoral win was one woman: Nancy Pelosi.

   After leading her party to their first House majority in eight years, Pelosi is now the frontrunner for Speaker of the House.  However, despite Pelosi’s position of leading House Democrats for the past fifteen years, politicians on both sides of the aisle are attempting to stop her ascension to the Speakership.  

   It is no surprise  that the California congresswoman isn’t getting much support from conservatives.  Ever since 2006, she has become the poster child for everything Republicans campaign against.  She has become charactured into an elite, taxation loving, partisan San Francisco liberal who is out of touch with the rest of the country.

   Meanwhile, on the left, she can be seen as too conservative and too pro-establishment.  After a dynamic change, some Democrats are looking for a shift to new leadership and away from Pelosi.  Many believe that she has become too tainted by the GOP campaign against her to effectively lead.

   In reality, however, both of these depictions of Pelosi are far from the truth.  The conservative belief that she is a head-in-the-clouds idealistic socialist is debunked by her record as a legislator.   In 2005, Pelosi was a key Democrat who strongly fought against any attempt to impeach President Bush. After her first inauguration as Speaker in 2007, she worked with Bush to pass fundamental bills to contain the damage of the 2008 financial crisis.  Already, Pelosi has voiced her openness to working with President Trump on a bipartisan infrastructure deal. Although Republicans are fair in calling Pelosi an unapologetic progressive, she has proven that she prioritizes practicality.

   On the other hand, Democrats critical of Pelosi are dissatisfied with what she’s done for those on the left and think it might be time for a change. I wasn’t always a fan of Pelosi either.  When I was younger and new to politics, I saw her as what was wrong with Washington. I wanted idealists to lead and centrists to follow. Since then, however, my perspective has changed. I realized that politicians who run purely on idealism tend to have a lot of big ideas and no way to get there.  Leaders in Congress need to have a smart agenda and need to know how to implement it. Nancy Pelosi is the ideal candidate for such a position.

  To Democrats who are unhappy with what she’s done, I ask them to look to former president Barack Obama.  Just recently, he praised Pelosi’s leadership and emphasized how vital her skills were in passing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Other Democrats like what she’s done but don’t like how she’s done it. To them I argue that without compromise the ACA would never have become law and even they might not understand her sacrifices,  the millions of Americans whose pre-existing conditions are now insured are undoubtedly grateful.

   The race for Speaker isn’t a kitchen table issue.  Most Americans don’t really think or care about the Speakership.  It is an office elected by a majority of the representatives rather than by a direct constituency of citizens.  Consequently, we assume it doesn’t affect us. But it does. Any issues we want the federal government to deal with have to be legislated and passed.  The Speaker of the House is instrumental in running and preserving that democratic process. If Congress makes the wrong choice this January, it isn’t just about optics or symbolism.  That poor decision will hurt all Americans, left and right, white and black, rich and poor.

   Cable news likes to paint races like these as a choice between the better of two evils.  In this scenario, that simply does not apply. Nancy Pelosi isn’t just the better leader, she is the best leader.  I’ll be the first to admit she isn’t perfect, but tell me who is? It’s time to take action and choose the Democrat who will be the best for all of us, who has the skills to lead, and who knows how to compromise.  To the chagrin of many Republicans, Pelosi is indeed to the left, but liberals now hold a House majority and Pelosi is a pragmatic progressive. Democrats might want someone who is newer and better fits their image, but the nation does not want, nor does it benefit from, pointless identity politics.  It is time to take care of issues. Therefore, who better than Nancy Pelosi to be sworn in as the Speaker of the House for the 116th Congress in January, 2019?

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