House Democrats opted to retain Nancy Pelosi as their Minority Leader for the next two years, an announcement which was met with little enthusiasm across most of social media from most of the people on the left. Neither of these developments should come as a surprise. Throughout Pelosi’s career, all she ever does is win, quietly scoring victory after victory for her side – even as she takes absurd and abusive criticism from those on her own side who just don’t get it.
If one needs evidence that Nancy Pelosi is the right person to lead the House Democrats during these next few years int which they’ll likely be fighting tooth and nail against the deranged agenda of Donald Trump and the corrupt agenda of House Republicans, one need look no further than the last time the Democrats were in this situation. Pelosi became Speaker of the House for the final two years of George W. Bush’s reign of error. She brought the Democrats in line and shut Bush down so thoroughly that he more or less gave up on the rest of his agenda.
Democrats are now heading into a much more bleak scenario, in which they don’t have a majority in either house of Congress. The only tool they now have at their disposal is sheer willpower. That’s why Pelosi is even more the right choice this time around. She’s willing to bang heads together, in her own party and otherwise, in order make things happen – or to stop things from happening.
And she couldn’t care less about the all the crap that gets flung her way, because she’s never been interested in popularity contests or credit. She also comes from a liberal district in San Francisco that’s going to keep reelecting her no matter how much heat she might take from conservative quarters elsewhere around the nation, meaning that she can operate these next two years without any fear of being bounced out of the House herself, a fear which often prompts congressional “leaders” from moderate districts to pull their punches.
Pelosi’s challenger for House Minority Leader, Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan oh Ohio, has an important upcoming role to play of his own. In a time where the likely next “President of the United States” is a deranged madman like Donald Trump who has no sense of propriety and who only responds to shows of strength, the Democrats need angry foot stompers of their own. Ryan can strike a little fear into the hearts of the other side. But it’s best for the angry foot stompers not to be in an official leadership position, lest their outsized behavior be used to paint the entire party as being out of control in the eyes of those in the middle.
There is phenomenal misunderstanding of what a House leader is and does. It’s not her job to get other Democrats elected to the House; that’s the responsibility of whoever ends up being the new DNC Chair. It’s not her job to craft a vision or to worry about public relations. It’s simply her job to help get legitimate legislation passed, or in the instance of the upcoming session, to prevent harmful legislation from getting passed. Whatever may currently be wrong with the Democratic Party in a meta sense, it’s not the job of the House Minority Leader to reinvent it all. It’s simply her job to know which punches to throw, and which punches to take, in the name of winning legislative fistfights. And there’s no one more proven in that role than Pelosi.
In other words, the House Democrats got it right today when they chose Nancy Pelosi to continue to be their leader. She’s precisely the level headed ballbuster the Democrats need in charge right now. She’ll help minimize the legislative damage that Trump and the GOP will be looking to do. And she’ll never get the credit she deserves. But that’s more or less the point: she’s effective in her role precisely because she goes about it in a manner which makes clear she doesn’t care whether about getting any credit.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report