After two decades as the leader of the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives — eight of them as Speaker of the House — Nancy Pelosi announced last week that she would not run for leadership again. A new generation must take over from her, albeit not the gavel, as the Democrats narrowly lost the majority in the House.
Pelosi will go down in history as one of the politicians who has done the most for her supporters. Pelosi was never concerned with power itself, but with what she could do with that power. The fact that almost all Americans now have health insurance is primarily due to her. The White House had abandoned the ambition for universal health insurance because it was uncertain whether there would be a majority in Congress. Only thanks to Pelosi’s tenacity and ingenuity did Obamacare get there.
When the bankruptcy of the investment bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008 threatened to collapse the entire financial system, Republican Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson pleaded with Pelosi to support the US bank bailout. Her support was vital as Republican leader John Boehner failed to gain sufficient support from Republican representatives.
Pelosi ensured that the rescue plan was adopted by the House of Representatives more than a month before the election. Even though the bailout for the big Wall Street banks was not popular with voters.
Herd of sheep
Thanks to Pelosi’s ability to herd her sheep in the same direction—she keeps a book of favors rendered—President Joe Biden has delivered on his key campaign promises, from subsidies to the US chip industry, new infrastructure projects to renewable energy incentives and measures to reduce costs. of medicines can be achieved.
Pelosi even directed her own succession beautifully. The moment she announced that she would no longer aspire to leadership, it was immediately clear that Hakeem Jeffries was the right person to succeed her. Because the Democrats will soon no longer have the majority in the House, Jeffries will have little trouble for the time being to keep the notorious left wing in the Democratic Party, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in check.
When Pelosi first entered Congress in 1987, the House of Representatives was still an old boys’ network. Of the 435 Deputies, only 12 were women, and the men had no intention of giving Pelosi a chance to be successful. But Pelosi, whose father was himself a five-time Representative, planned better, maneuvered smarter, and worked harder than all of her male colleagues put together. She traveled the country raising funds for other candidates, giving speeches, counting votes and meeting people. Legend has it that Pelosi lives on chocolate and never sleeps.
In January 2007, Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives for the first time. When she got her hands on the gavel, Pelosi said it was a historic moment — for Congress and for the nation’s women. A moment women had been waiting for for more than two hundred years. She said that the marble ceiling had been broken that day and promised the sky the limit would be for all daughters and granddaughters.
Pelosi is indeed a shining example to girls and women around the world. At the same time, the hatred and acid poured out on Pelosi are frightening. It is true that most politicians deal with online hate, but with women it is disproportionately more and much more personal. When I see how hateful politicians like Sigrid Kaag and Femke Halsema are treated, my heart goes cold.
Speaking to Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Representative, Nancy Pelosi said she sees Republicans’ constant attacks on her person as a “badge of honor‘ considered. After all, the Republicans must fear her to demonize her in this way. Perhaps. But the demonization has real-life consequences, as the attack on Paul Pelosi shows. This will not have gone unnoticed by her daughters and granddaughters.
Helen Mees is an economist. Every other week she writes an exchange column with Harriet Duurvoort.