I have long defended Nancy Pelosi’s performance as the Democrats’ leader in the House. I find most of the attacks on her from other Democrats as pretty disingenuous or misinformed. Democrats seem to have latched on to Republican criticisms of her as legitimate, which is a terrible way to approach politics. Most of the frequently-named candidates to replace her seem to be more conservative white men. She’s good at her job and the fact that Republicans do hate her so much is a sign of that. They aren’t r running ads using Chuck Schumer to get out the vote, in part because he’s a white guy and it part because everyone knows they can roll him over on a lot of issues. It’s true that the House leadership is way too old and that there hasn’t been a lot of care taken to her eventual replacement. The fact that boring corporate Joe Crowley was seen as the most likely contender until Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset him is not a great sign. However, Pelosi herself is a strong leader who wrangles her difficult caucus into relatively unity on a lot of hard issues.
However, there is one good reason to replace her and the rest of the Democratic leadership, which is that it is going to take replacing them to get the off of living in Republican talking points land. Yglesias and Yeselson both pounced on this on Twitter and I want to follow them up on it.
And Pelosi, despite opposition from some progressives, is committed to reviving the “pay-go” (or pay as you go) rule she had during her previous run as speaker, requiring that new spending be paid for by budget cuts or revenue offsets.
Everyone except for Democratic operatives now realize that Republicans only care about the debt when Democrats are in charge. There is no evidence that any meaningful number of Americans cast their votes around the national debt. A balanced budget is wildly overrated as policy goal. Power only comes around every so often and so you have to take advantage of the time you have to implement the most progressive policies you can. But no, that’s not going to happen because Pelosi and others (to be sure, she has tons of support on this from other aging Democrats who came up in the 80s and 90s) totally buy into Republican talking points on the debt. This is why we need more of the AOCs and Ayanna Pressleys and, hopefully but unlikely, Kerri Harrises to defeat these OK but ultimately out of touch incumbents. It’s not just that we need fighters on the left. We need Democrats who reject the conventional wisdom that keep holding Democrats back.