Hey Democrats…we need to talk about Nancy Pelosi.
Not about her storied career (her experience is evident on a daily basis).
Not about her achievements (we know that the life-saving Affordable Care Act could just as easily have been nicknamed PelosiCare as opposed to Obamacare).
Not about her skills (her legacy as a shrewd legislator and prolific fundraiser are carved in political stone).
What we need to talk about is her popularity…or lack thereof.
It’s a shame that popularity could be viewed as a quality that’s as important as experience or effectiveness. But perception is reality. And in the Midterm Elections, the perception of Nancy Pelosi was not good. There’s a reason that Republicans spent hundreds of millions of dollars tying her to Democratic candidates. Luckily, Donald Trump was so toxic that it did not work. And I suspect that views of Nancy Pelosi may even improve in the coming weeks (people love a winner). But overall, her popularity is anemic.
An NBC Election Day exit poll showed Nancy Pelosi with a nearly-equal “unfavorability” rating as – and a much lower “favorability” rating than – Donald Trump. And since Donald Trump is a horrible human being and Nancy Pelosi is not, we clearly have a perception problem on our hands. A party leader does not obtain a favorability rating in the low-30s unless they have lost support among their own. So why do some Democrats have it in for Nancy Pelosi?
It can’t be because of her aforementioned experience and effectiveness. The Democratic Party is the party of facts and results. And anyone who objectively looks at the data could see why Nancy Pelosi’s ability to lead is so revered on both sides of the aisle, regardless of politics or policy.
It can’t be because of her age and her gender…or at least I hope it isn’t. Her demographics play a large part as to why Republicans disdain her. But the Democratic Party doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) view things in such terms.
My theory? Too many Democrats turned on Nancy Pelosi because we let our opponents get in our heads. Too many Democrats allowed the Republican Party to divide and conquer us. Too many Democrats allowed Fox News to seize the narrative about one of our greatest leaders. And as a result, too many Democrats became AFRAID to stand up for a woman who deserved their support, all because it was deemed socially unacceptable to do so. The right has spent over a decade demonizing this woman, making her name shorthand for all things that they deemed to be “evil”: progressivism, fairness, equality.
Sadder yet, we let them. Instead of defending her, too many of us shied away. We let them define her. We let them substitute the facts about her accomplishments with the lies about her character.
And this is not to suggest that Nancy Pelosi is perfect. I’m sure that there are valid concerns about being too close to corporate interests and party politics. But the benefits of her leadership far outweigh the criticisms of it.
This is a perilous time. We have the most corrupt President in history. We have a Senate that is controlled by Republicans. Our strongest Democratic force now occupies the House of Representatives, and we need our strongest General to lead them. And that General, as Rep. Adam Schiff recently noted, is Nancy Pelosi.
So how do we convince those in our own camp to see Nancy Pelosi the way so many of us see her? We can’t do anything to make Republicans like her. That ship set sail ten years ago.
But I am convinced that we can do something about how Democrats and fair-minded Independents view her. Anyone who voted for a Democratic House contender this year clearly understands the difference between level-headed experience and the threats to our democracy coming from the man in the White House and the sycophants in his party.
We do what we should have done all along: WE SUPPORT NANCY PELOSI LOUDLY AND PROUDLY. When we are amongst our Democratic friends and someone begins to denigrate her, don’t do what *I* have done in the past: sit quietly and not defend her. SPEAK UP. Talk about how VALUABLE her EXPERIENCE is at a critical time such as this! Extol the benefits of her ACCOMPLISHMENTS! If someone professes their love of Barack Obama for passing healthcare in one breath and then speaks ill of Nancy Pelosi in the next, EDUCATE THEM on how she shepherded that bill through Congress!
The more vociferously prominent Democrats defend her, the more other Democrats will reconsider their own opinions. The more that Democrats are unified, the more we will convince like-minded Independents. There is strength in numbers. We can add to them by leading the way.
And don’t just do it for her. Do it for the party and the country. If Nancy Pelosi becomes the Speaker of the House – and she likely will – she will be the face of the Democratic party until we select a Presidential nominee. The stronger her support is, the stronger her hand will be…not only on behalf of the Democrats in her caucus, but on behalf of Democrats across America.
So say it loud and say it proud: Nancy Pelosi kicks ass. We love her for it, and you should, too.