What it will mean if the House Democrats elect Pelosi

Stories I had seen earlier today had mentioned that some conservative-leaning House members were opposing Nancy Pelosi’s bid for Democratic leader, but had not quoted them, so the articles didn’t seem worth posting. But in the below piece CNN directly quotes several House members who have publicly stated that Pelosi should not be leader. That seems impressive. However, as the piece also makes clear, Democratic moderates are a small and powerless group in the Democratic caucus, while the progressives, who make up the majority, may support Pelosi.

On the face of it, this seems most odd. It is, of course, normal political practice that when a legislative party has suffered a devastating defeat in the polls, or even a mild defeat, the leader retires. The leader of a defeated party in Britain automatically steps down; in the U.S., Newt Gingrich stepped down as Speaker of the House after the Republicans lost a few seats in the 1998 midterm elections and still maintained the majority. So, if the progressives who dominate the Democratic House caucus stick with Pelosi and elect her as their leader, what will they be saying? They will be saying that she has not made any mistakes in her leadership—they will be saying that what she has stood for, is what they stand for. They will, as a party, be repudiating the American people’s repudiation of their program. They will be declaring to the American people, “We don’t care that you fear and loathe Obamacare. We will keep pushing for Obamacare, against your will, forever.”

If that happens, it will be an unprecedented development in American history. But of course it is also unprecedented in American history that one of the two major parties is an outright leftist party.

Here is the CNN article:

Pelosi is running for Minority Leader amid calls for her to step down

Washington (CNN)—Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she will run for minority leader, even as some moderate and conservative Democrats have said she should step aside. Pelosi made the announcement on Twitter: “Driven by the urgency of creating jobs & protecting #hcr, #wsr, Social Security & Medicare, I am running for Dem Leader.”

She further explained her decision in a statement.

“Our work is far from finished. As a result of Tuesday’s election, the role of Democrats in the 112th Congress will change, but our commitment to serving the American people will not,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Many of our colleagues have called with their recommendations on how to continue our fight for the middle class, and have encouraged me to run for House Democratic Leader.”

Moderate Democratic Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma was the latest to urge Pelosi to step aside and not run for House Minority Leader.

“I cannot in good conscience support Nancy Pelosi as our leader,” Boren told CNN in a telephone interview, “I intend to support a more conservative Democrat, a Democratic alternative.”

I think most people in the Democratic caucus are giving her room to make the room to retire, to leave gracefully. But, you know, I think it is important to see over the next 24-48 hours if we will see an alternative emerge,” Boren said.

Boren’s public pressure for Pelosi to go follows similar comments from North Carolina’s Democratic Rep Heath Schuler and Utah’s Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson who have also said they would prefer a new, more centrist Democratic leader.

“I think based on the outcome of this election, we should all acknowledge what the American people said, and they are looking for change. And I think when you as a political party suffer losses of historic proportions, it makes sense to change things up,” Matheson told CNN in a telephone interview.” “Therefore I don’t think she should be running for leader.”

Still, after Tuesday’s losses, moderate Democrats are now a very small part of the Democratic caucus. The bigger question, according to multiple Democratic sources, is what Pelosi’s fellow progressives want her to do.

Americans United for Change, a progressive political organization, sent an email notice to its members Friday morning urging Pelosi to stay.

The notice asks people to send a personal note to Speaker Pelosi.

“Make sure she knows that we will support her,” said the email.

“If she runs, she will win,” said one senior Democratic source.

Still, while Pelosi’s tireless fundraising has built reservoir of support among Democratic lawmakers, several Democratic sources said there are a number of progressive Democrats who do not want her to run.

Meanwhile, Kentucky Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, who had been a staunch supporter of Pelosi’s, told a television station in his home state he wants Pelosi to step down as Democratic leader.

“I know that there is some thought that Nancy Pelosi may stay around,” Yarmuth said Thursday, “As good a leader as she has been, I don’t think she’s the right leader to take us … “

[end of article]

- end of initial entry -

LA writes:

You don’t have to believe me. E.J. Dionne, whose very heartbeat is that of the Democratic Party, writes:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calmly assessing the political cyclone that routed her Democratic majority and will, at least temporarily, force her to vacate one of the best offices in the city, with its inspirational view of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

She keeps coming back to the courage of her colleagues who cast hard votes that helped make the past two years one of Congress’s most productive periods in recent times—and made her one of the most effective speakers in history. Her message is unmistakable: Democrats have nothing to apologize for, nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to regret.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 05, 2010 07:59 PM | Send

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