Nancy Pelosi has served as the Democratic Majority and Minority Leader of the House since the era of George W. Bush. Moreover, Pelosi has been a Congresswoman since 1987 and her long held position has lead her to become the personification of the liberal establishment and the center of Republican attacks against the Democratic Party. Republican ads played on television screens across the country in the 2018 midterms, using Pelosi as a rallying cry to oppose the election of Democrats. Despite the attempts to flip to red by linking candidates to Pelosi, the House swayed blue and has thus raised her to the potential position of Speaker of the House. Yet she faces opposition, and this time it is from within her own party.
With many of the newly elected House Democrats surging in the polls on a wave of promising change in Washington, the first place they look for change is Democratic Leadership. The letter is as follows:
November 19, 2018
Dear Democratic Colleagues:
As we head toward the 116th Congress and reclaim our Democratic majority, we believe more strongly than ever that the time has come for new leadership in our Caucus.
We are thankful to Leader Pelosi for her years of service to our Country and to our Caucus. She is a historic figure whose leadership has been instrumental to some of our party’s most important legislative achievements.
However, we also recognize that in this recent election, Democrats ran and won on a message of change. Our majority came on the backs of candidates who said that they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington. We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise.
Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our Caucus meeting and on the House Floor.
Sixteen potential House Democrats have signed this Letter, just one vote shy of the margin she needs to win the speaker post and complicating the path forward for Nancy Pelosi. Nonetheless, these Democrats do not have enough votes to lock Pelosi out of the seat. Furthermore, some of them have not been officially confirmed as a few key races, such as Ben McAdams’ in Utah, are still too close to call. It should be no surprise to see such challenges in a Congress that has required Democrats to be elected from districts that traditionally lean to the right.
Although Pelosi is amidst controversy she still remains a “historic figure”. She is the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. yet she calls herself a Progressive but the Progressive platform takes issue with her lack of support of “single Payer” healthcare. She is a centrist who in the eyes of some represents the “status quo”. She has been successful in leading the Democratic Party to great legislative achievements. Why do we need new leadership when we have a winner? Is it because she is a woman? Are men being measured by the same yardstick.
Pelosi remains confident in securing her position as Speaker. She has even invited competition for the seat, knowing that challenging her will still be an uphill battle. This is not to mention that a true challenge could create additional friction within the party at a time when they need to remain united in combating a Republican President and Senate. Nonetheless, Democratic Representative from Ohio, Marcia Fudge, the former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is considering just that.
While it is important to ensure the unity of the party, questions and challenges to the status quo such as these are vital for a healthy democracy. Challenges to party leadership reflect representatives who do not blindly follow the chain of command and instead make decisions based on what they reason to be the best course for those they represent. Ultimately it is highly likely that no serious battle will erupt against Pelosi and the left wing will remain stable at this critical juncture. Yet it is important to consider the changes that may be necessary for the party to reflect a diverse society whose priorities are ever changing.