Cleaning House

Recently 16 House Democrats signed a letter saying they would not support Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House, despite her being the leader of the House Dems for the last 16 years. Unsurprisingly, the rallying cries from beltway journalists is the same as it was when Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in 2016: they pivot to blaming any opposition to Pelosi as the result of sexism or misogyny. Even though the criticisms levied against her from Leftists have nothing to do with the fact that she happens to possess a vagina, establishment journalists and politicians alike will continue with the charade that being anti-Clinton, or in this case anti-Pelosi, somehow equates to being anti-woman.

In 2018 the story of Nancy Pelosi is only about one thing, and that one thing happens to be the wedge that so absolutely divides centrist Democrats from Progressives. In other words, it is impossible to divorce Pelosi from corporate money. In any article you read about why she is so valuable to the Democratic Party, it invariably goes back to her ability to raise money from corporations to fund various political campaigns. That’s her whole bag. The modern iteration of Pelosi, a woman who was once pretty progressive, is not a bold leader who stands for workers; to this day she refuses to endorse Medicare For All, or an increase to the minimum wage, or free college — policies that are supported by a majority of Democrats. Instead, Nancy Pelosi is an empty vessel. She takes money from wealthy donors, redistributes it to finance fellow establishment Democratic campaigns, and ordinary people are left to wonder why the only legislation that ever gets passed is to help the well-to-do.

In an era where income inequality is as bad as it’s been since The Gilded Age, Pelosi — whose net worth sits at a cool $135 million — is the wrong person to be the face of the People’s Party. Maybe the sickest part: her wealth more than doubled after the Great Recession in 2007. To be fair, it would be another matter if she championed policies that help working people. I wouldn’t care about her personal warchest if that was the case. But instead she actively works against Progressives when it matters the most. Never forget it was under her leadership that the Democrats abandoned Ben Jealous during a winnable governor race in Maryland in 2018, and basically cut off funding to Rob Quist during a winnable special election in Montana in 2017.

Until evidence is provided to persuade me otherwise, I believe the following statement reins true: Democratic leadership would rather lose to Republicans than win with a Progressive. The political ideology for which Pelosi prescribes is the same that Bill Clinton introduced when he won the presidency in 1992, and the blueprint Barack Obama followed when he won the presidency in 2008. That is, basically, to make grand promises to the Left, while delivering policy that only benefits America’s ultra-rich, ultra-right-wing donors.

Defenders of Nancy Pelosi call bullshit on everything I have to say. They cite that, without her, the Affordable Care Act — otherwise known as Obamacare — wouldn’t have passed. They post videos from 1987 when she did an interview in support at a gay pride march. And they do what I already mentioned, saying people like me must be sexist since I’m in opposition to Pelosi.

That stuff is all good, I guess, but it doesn’t address the fact that Democrats have been defeated at an unprecedented rate under Pelosi’s leadership. It doesn’t change the idea that she supports Pay-Go, which is just a handout to the rich. It doesn’t change that she won’t stand for the most popular policy ideas from the left, such as single-payer or bumping the federal minimum wage up to $15 an hour.

Money. With Nancy Pelosi it is all about the money. For her to lead the Democratic Party away from corporate influence would be to reject the very thing that the establishment loves about her. The reason Pelosi is in power in the first place is her cozy relationships with the banks, the private health insurance agencies, and virtually any other industry you can think of that exploits the working class. Even though her job is to represent the people — rather than the other way around — she continually sides with corporations that are anti-worker.

But this is who Pelosi is. She’s a rich person. She identifies with other rich people, whose interests are in direct opposition with those who Pelosi is supposed to represent. Put another way: if in a theoretical world she did indeed choose to side with the workers, it would adversely affect her own wallet. There’s a conflict there.

The tide of the Democratic Party has shifted, and it hasn’t been towards the ever-elusive “center,” which both liberals and the mainstream news are always in a rush to get to. Instead it’s been to the left. With that in mind, Nancy Pelosi might as well be a fucking dinosaur because of her unwillingness to embrace the ideas that are so popular among the American people. It should say something that directly after the Democrats took back control of the House — largely off the backs of grassroots activists — Pelosi said “We believe that we have a responsibility to seek common ground where we can,” adding that “openness and transparency, accountability [and] bipartisanship [are] a very important part of how we will go forward.”

Does anybody want that shit? I mean truly. With a government so dysfunctional, and so clearly in the pockets of the donor class, when has any regular person ever said, ‘You know what I really want, for both parties to come together and agree on things”? You just aren’t going to hear that.

People want government to make their lives better. They don’t care about bipartisan agreement, or compromise. That’s how the Democrats originally got themselves in this mess, by playing nice while Republican leadership uncompromisingly pillaged their way to victory after victory. Pelosi says those words, presumably because she thinks they sound good, or play well to the focus group crowd, but in reality her sentiment has done nothing to improve anybody’s life. The opposite is actually true.

So this is where we are. On Wednesday, November 28, House Democrats will vote on who will be the next Speaker of the House. 16 Democrats have signed a letter saying they will not support Nancy Pelosi, but in all likelihood she will retain her spot. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence from someone like me, but I don’t use this blog space to lie to myself, or pretend like the odds are magically going to turn out in favor of the good guys.

I don’t think Pelosi is a bad person, I’m just saying she isn’t the right person. Not for this job, and not at such a moment in history. As was proven with the election of Donald Trump, the American people are not interested in the establishment way of doing business. When given the choice between shaking up the system or continuing along the same lugubrious road, the people are going to side with the blow it up strategy every time.

Nancy Pelosi is a wealthy politician, so she will never understand this. She doesn’t have her ear to the ground, and has very little way (or interest, as far as we know) of tapping into the pain and desperation of the working class. Pelosi doesn’t want to change the system, because the system made her what she is. She capitalizes off the system.

I’m a Leftist, so when I talk about blowing up the system I do not mean it literally. I don’t have any interest in anarchy. My vision, and the vision of Progressives like me, of blowing up the system involves giving everyone free healthcare. It involves raising the minimum wage and expanding Social Security, thus putting more money in the pockets of ordinary people. It involves a Green New Deal to conserve the planet, and a giant infrastructure plan to create a bunch of good-paying jobs. These are all totally realistic policy ideas that are supported by a majority of Americans.

But until the Democrats get new leadership, all those ideas can go straight to hell. The donors that Nancy Pelosi represents have no inducement to put more money in the pockets of those who could use it, because that would mean instead of having two hundred million dollars in the bank they might only have a hundred and seventy five.

We wouldn’t want that now, would we?