The possibility of Hakeem Jeffries leading the Democrats is not only refreshing, but also needed. Pelosi announced her intention to step down last week, and while Pelosi has done a phenomenal job as speaker, it is time to let the younger folks see what they can do. Class act that he appears to be, Jeffries thanked Jim Clyburn, Steny Hoyer, and Nancy Pelosi during his appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” all of whom support the leadership role for him. What exactly will Jeffries bring to the leadership role? A fresh perspective for one thing.
As far as we are into the Twenty-first Century, it is a damned shame that any article still references “the first Black” anything, but that is exactly what Jeffries will be if he is elected to leadership. Jeffries represents New York District 8. His slogan is “Hakeem will always put people over politics.” He is eloquent, and he has no qualms about reaching across the aisle to get things done. When asked on CNN how he will be able to work with McCarthy should he win the Republican speakership, Jeffries said that he “has a much warmer relationship with Steve Scalise” but that he’s open to working with any and everyone.
Being a “first” isn’t new for Jeffries, as in 2019, he became the youngest chairman of the Democratic Caucus. Jeffries is already looking ahead, outlining in his announcement letter that “more must be done to combat inflation, defend our democracy, secure reproductive freedom, welcome new Americans, promote equal protection under the law, and improve public safety throughout this country.” These are issues about which ALL Americans should care, regardless of who puts them forth. The retiring leadership aren’t the only ones support Jeffries. According to CNN, Joyce Beatty, the Congressional Black Caucus chair, expects that caucus to throw its support behind Jeffries as well. Echoing Beatty, Mark Pocan, former Congressional Progressive Caucus chair, said: “I’m a huge fan of Hakeem. I think he’s extremely intelligent, he’s a good person to bring consensus among the caucus. I think he’ll be an outstanding leader.”
Jeffries already has his sights set on 2024, according to Real Clear Politics, which quoted Jeffries as saying the number one priority of Democrats will be taking back the House. Let’s hope the Republicans don’t burn it down while they have it. Jeffries is “committed” to ensuring the Democrats take back the House “for the good of the American people.” Who seriously believes Republicans will accomplish one thing that benefits the American people during their tenure? Already, all they talk about are investigations and removing people they don’t like from committee assignments. Neither move will benefit the people and will serve only to satisfy Republican blood lust.
Hopefully, the new, younger set of leadership will drive that home for the American people. Should Jeffries succeed in this bid to become leader, he is poised to be joined by Katherine Clark as Whip and Pete Aguilar as caucus chair. We need these new leaders’ voices in Washington and across the country. These young people can help to bring about change that this country so desperately needs.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years