Resist Trump Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Nancy Pelosi has for the moment defused the challenge by a small group of House members from districts more moderate than the average Democratic district who oppose her bid to be speaker of the House in the new Congress. This is in part a testament to Pelosi's political skills and willingness to accommodate other voices and viewpoints in her caucus. The conspicuous absence of so much as a dark-horse alternative also has something to do with it.
Opposition to Pelosi comes less from hotheads on the left than from members in contested districts who believe they are representing their constituents by refusing to vote for the comrade from California. I am not questioning the integrity of those who took an anti-Pelosi stance they thought needed to be taken to win their races. Unfortunately, this puts them in a minority faction whose options are to torpedo Pelosi or find a way to finesse campaign commitments that however skillfully done could leave them open to charges of hypocrisy.
Jeanne d'Arc Ocasio-Cortez says she will support the most progressive candidate for speaker. That would be Pelosi unless someone else steps forward. A progressive who would satisfy Ocasio-Cortez would hardly be palatable to some of the signatories of the notorious letter pledging to oppose Pelosi, thus leaving the caucus at the same impasse. Ocasio-Cortez is in line with the thinking among progressives generally.The firebrands at MoveOn, Daily Kos, and Indivisible warn that Democrats who vote against Pelosi can expect a backlash and perhaps opposition from the left in the next primary (I'm not crazy about this tactic, but it's being floated). In the meantime progressives and centrists alike will try to use what leverage they have to extract concessions from the presumptive speaker.
The situation illustrates a challenge Democrats have yet to come to grips with. I see it as a challenge for myself that I have yet to come to grips with. There has to be a place in the party for people more conservative than I am, much less Ocasio-Cortez, et al., if for no other reason than that the Dems need them to get to a majority in the House and Senate. There has to be a way for those voices to be heard and their participation to be meaningful without giving them a veto that allows a minority to impose its will on the majority. Pelosi did just that in her dealings with Marcia Fudge and Brian Higgins, and I anticipate she will with others as well, which no doubt will bring criticism from all sides for pandering to other sides. To her credit she seems to be able to handle it. I still think the Democrats and the country will be best served by having Pelosi as speaker for the next two years.
I may be wrong about everything here. It would not be the first time.
Perry Bacon Jr., Who Could Become Speaker Of The House If Pelosi Doesn’t?, FiveThirtyEight, November 20, 2018
Philip Bump, How the opposition to Pelosi as speaker compares to the rest of the Democratic caucus, Washington Post, November 19, 2018
Nolan D. McCaskill, More Dems threaten to withhold support for Pelosi, Politico, November 22, 2018
Ella Nilsen, Why House progressives have Nancy Pelosi’s back, Vox, November 21, 2018
Chris Mills Rodrigo, Ocasio-Cortez: Pelosi has my support, The Hill, November 21, 2018
Matthew Yglesias, The time Nancy Pelosi saved social security, Vox, November 21, 2018
Earlier this month the blog's verbiage meter nudged over 100,000 words for 2018. This is at most a minor accomplishment, no cause for horn tooting, being a measure of quantity only when it is quality that matters. The output does count for something, though, insofar as it is a benchmark, evidence of discipline and stubbornness that takes me regularly to my desk. Maybe too it is a measure of discontent with who I am and what I have made of myself to this point. I keep at it. I go on.
Keep the faith.