While Nancy Pelosi was essentially voted out of office last night, she made me proud

She used her position as Speaker to attempt to move legislation that she thought was in the best interest of this country.  And she did it not simply to get re-elected or have her caucus hold power.

When I was an 18-year old in my freshman year of college, I started studying political science in school.  And the first theory of politics that I learned is what is the dominant theory today:  rational choice.  It is politics seen through the eyes of an economist.  At its core, the theory says that legislators act for one reason, and only one reason:  to get reelected.  I thought this was frightening and too cynical.  But after years of studying  and observing it, I saw little evidence to repudiate it.

That was until Nancy Pelosi came to power.  She got her caucus to support liberal versions of health care reform legislation, cap and trade and wall street reform.  She did this knowing her and her members would get killed for the votes and probably knowing the Senate would not vote for any of it or would water it down.

While this might be the definition of insanity, she made me and many other liberals proud to see someone stand on principle and act not out of self-interest, but what she thought was in the best interest of the country.  Disagree with every vote she cast.  But no one can say she ascended to the speakership just to wield power and to keep it.  She went there to make a difference.  If you are going to have power, you might as well try to use to move the country forward.  If not, what is really the point.  I can’t believe it is just to have power.  But then again, I am a true believer.

I should note that LBJ did the same thing with the 1965 voting rights act and medicare.  He famously said to his aide, Bill Moyers, we just lost the South for a generation.  He was right and they lost it for more than that.  But at least we got the VRA.  And at least we got health care reform and wall street reform.


2 Responses to “While Nancy Pelosi was essentially voted out of office last night, she made me proud”

  1. Doug Says:

    I just don’t see it that way. And I don’t think the facts are there to back up your premise.

    Instead, the soon-to-be former Speaker Pelosi miscalculated. She fundamentally misread the mandate the public handed her and her fellow Democrats in 2006 and 2008. She mistakenly labeled a majority of the American public, including many from her own party and the very independents that put her in power, as an overly vocal minority. She (mis)used the power and trust handed her to ram through the House, not only unpopular, but admittedly deeply flawed legislation — no Democrat campaigned on the “triumph” of Obamacare. She and her fellow Democrats fell fast and hard as a result. Rarely has a party fallen so fast so quickly.

    Nancy Pelosi failed because she focused on her legacy, not the American people or what was best for us. She put her own priorities first and failed to listen. Now she and her party are paying the price. She was the first female Speaker of the House, and that is laudable. Otherwise, as time passes, she will not remembered for any notable accomplishments. Rather, she will be remembered for a failed opportunity for the Democrats and an example of how not to govern.

  2. mschonholz Says:

    Ok. First, the democrats in 2009-10, controlled 15 more seats in the in the house than the republicans do now and President Obama won in a landslide? You can call that a vocal minority if you would like but that is a pretty funny definition. You say she rammed through legislation. How exactly did she do that. She held votes on legislation and her side got the majority. THat is how a democracy and republican form of government works. It is the Senate that is really anti-democratic.

    As for cooperating with Repubicans, what exactly was she supposed to do. HRC is essentially a Republican plan drafted up in the CATO institute and other conservative think tanks in the 1980s and 1990s. When it came to voting on such plan, Republicans not only refused to support it but called provision they had introduced as “death panels.” I do not know how u can compromise with that.

    As for her legacy, I am willing to bet any amount of money she and the legislation she helped passed will be viewed more favorably than anything passed during the Republican control of the House from 1995-2007. Newt and Denny might have controlled the House for longer but what exactly did they accomplish? The signature pieces of legislation will most likely be the Prescription Drug benefit and No Child Left Behind. Go out and see if any Republican actually support either piece now. What is the point of holdign power if you are not going to do anything with it. Did the house ever put privitization of Social Security, Medicare or the VA up for a vote. Privitization is a core value of Republicans, yet neither Newt nor Denny ever put them up for a vote. Rep. Pelosi tried to use the power she was given to enact legislation her caucus was sent there to do from their districts.

    As for Obamacare, let’s talk again in 2020 when the law has actually taken full effect for a while. The public has no real idea what is actually in it. Poll data show consistently that while they dislike “Obamacare,” they love most of the parts of it.

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