Democrats: not as far beyond reproach as we think

When Jon Ossoff lost that special special election in Georgia last week, Filemon Vela, a Democratic congressman from Texas, said that Nancy Pelosi was not the only reason that Ossoff lost, but certainly one of them.

I hadn’t read this comment when I blogged this last week:

What the Democrats need is a candidate for 2020 and they need him now, a person who will gather some spin and some interest and who will become the de facto party representative. It can’t be Nancy Pelosi anymore. The same constant wingnut onslaught that finally undid Hillary Clinton has undone her also.

So Mr. Vela and I have something in common—two things actually: first, nobody outside a very very very small circle knows who the hell we are; and second, we should maybe think before we speak.

Too late for that in my case, so I’ve been thinking after I spoke—something with which, unfortunately, I’m more comfortable. Nancy Pelosi is not the problem, and even though my blog was less critical of her than what Republicans have portrayed her to be, the fact that Democrats (and Vela was not the only one) have been so willing to pile on may be proof that our liberal and progressive party is stuck in the same gender-driven muck as our opponents.

Maybe we’re just better at lip service.

If you have some time today, search around a bit for Rep. Pelosi’s political record, and find out (1) where she stands on the issues that are important to Democrats (health care, human rights, Wall St. reform, public education), and (2) how frequently and forcefully she has stood up for those beliefs in the face of relentless Republican attacks. You’ll know why the Republicans want her gone: she’s a thorn in their side and has been (on the national stage) for over a decade. And now that these same Republicans have a president with a record of disrespecting women (and doing so with the blessing of 62,984,825 American voters) they figure that bullying someone like Nancy Pelosi has suddenly become more respectable.

In one respect that’s politics—I get that—but maybe it’s gender politics, and if it’s now acceptable in the Democratic Party, then shame on us.

It has been said recently that the Democrats need a message that transcends anti-Trumpism. I’m less and less convinced that’s true, since the Republicans have no message except repeal Obamacare. They are foursquare behind nothing else. Democrats have many messages in addition to those mentioned above: women’s reproductive rights, the environment, the LGBTQ community, voting rights, immigration, and on and on. People like Nancy Pelosi are putting the messages out there. If they’re drowned out by puerile tweets and cynical executive orders and a jester cavorting in the center ring of the White House circus, that’s the fault of 62,984,825 Americans who should have known better, not the first woman to be Speaker of the House.

If we Democrats want to cherish our collectible trading cards of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Geraldine Ferraro, Ella Grasso, Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton and all the other women who have achieved milestones in our party, this isn’t the time to turn our backs on one who is still in the fray.

(Maybe I’ll forward this to Filemon Vela—that we’ll both know who the other one is.)

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Chuck Radda

I'm a former high school English teacher, currently a literacy volunteer and novelist. I invite your responses right here or to chuckradda@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter—where I tweet annually at @chuckrad45.

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