Nancy Pelosi should not be Speaker for the House of Representatives. Pelosi and her supporters have been crowing that her being again elected to the speakership is a virtual certainty. However, I have heard little from them or anyone as to why, beyond her ability to “count the votes” and that she’s done it before, or that it was under her leadership that Democrats just took back the house. Except that overlooks the fact that the House was also lost while under her leadership, and it wasn’t her that won in the midterms; it was a combination of anti-Trump opposition and new diverse candidates running on progressive agendas. Sliding back to the old status quo will be begging self-destruction.
Pelosi is a multi-millionaire and proudly self-declared capitalist. She is also very old and very white. She is not a progressive and is disinclined to allow a progressive push within her party. She’s also got a track record of bowing to Republican pressure, and has repeatedly expressed intentions to work with the Trump administration, to collaborate on bipartisan legislation. Fuck that. You do not collaborate with fascists. You do not work to find common ground with those whose every action has been hostile towards equality, democracy, law and basic fucking decency. We’re meant to be fighting the fascist scum, not compromising. Pelosi is not representative of what the country wants and needs.
The question often posed in counter to calls for Pelosi’s ouster is, “But who could replace her?”
As if the fact that she’s done it before makes the position hers by right, again.
There are some appealing candidates among the crop of new representatives brought in with the recent midterms. The House is slowly creeping closer to having its ranks composed of a percentage of progressive women of color actually commensurate to the population the body is meant to represent. However, realistically, they are not ready. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, while an inspiring figure, one with several positions I support, is not prepared to take a leadership role. You don’t join a team or a business and immediately become captain or manager. She and those similar to her could potentially run for Speaker after some years, but not now. I’ve also been disappointed to hear that Ocasio-Cortez has endorsed Pelosi, a bad sign for both her and other would-be progressives.
It is also the case that there’s a lack of veteran Democrats in the House worthy of leading. It is still a largely white, wealthy and elderly body. House Democrats have long proven themselves ineffective, either overly accommodating of, or in agreement with, Republican agendas. They’ve passed obscenely inflated military spending bills, supported criminal wars, all manner of reprehensible shit. They have not ever been the “check” on Republicans that they now insist they’ll be. Veteran Democrats are no less conservative than the Republicans used to be. Politics have been dragging further to the right for decades. We need to push politicians and public conversation far and hard to the left. We won’t have a chance of that with Pelosi or her cohorts.
While it is true that the Democratic party is, in the House and in general, sorely lacking people who satisfy the ideal venn diagram of a progressive track record, political experience, competence and not being a spineless, corrupt, capitulating, hypocritical douche, that does not mean Pelosi is the only option.
I have a suggestion. Barbara Lee. Barbara mothafuckin Lee, dear reader.
Barbara Lee was the sole dissenting vote, in either house of congress, against the AUMF. That act, which granted theretofore unprecedented war powers to the executive, has been the justification for the president, from Bush to Obama to Trump, to wage unending wars without oversight, so long as the spectre of “terrorism” can be however spuriously invoked. Lee was the only member of congress with the combined foresight and bravery to oppose an act which has cost millions of lives and trillions of dollars in bloody, catastrophic global wars. She opposed the clusterfuck that was the invasion of Iraq prior to that being the popular position. She voted against condemning the UN’s Goldstone Report, which detailed atrocities and war crimes committed by the Israeli military against Gazan civilians. As for leadership ability: Barbara Lee has chaired the Congressional Black Caucus, is current Whip in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and is vice-chair and a founder of the LGBT Equality Caucus.
Is Barbara Lee perfect? Hell no. Of course not. No one is. And she’s a politician, so points lost for that. She’s made some bad votes, such as the 2008 bailout. Also, she’s actually richer than Pelosi. And only younger by five to six years, if that matters. In a sense, she’d be a form of compromise, but one as good as we can hope for.
She’s also bound to face opposition for being “too liberal,” and naturally for being a Black woman. But fuck that. Let the naysaying assholes oppose. Everything that can be done for the sake of progress, must be done.