Recently, I watched Nancy Pelosi give a speech on the U.S. House floor announcing she was stepping down as Speaker of the House.
It struck me that I was watching a key moment in history, as one of our greatest legislators was voluntarily retiring. It gave me chills thinking about my privilege to witness one of the great contemporary Americans.
In stark contrast, Speaker Pelosi has also been subjected to some of the most vile adjectives and descriptions by her political opponents. To think that grown adults would behave in such ways doesn’t demean her. It demeans them and demonstrates clearly their lack of character – something I think all of us should require of our leaders.
I’ve often wondered why Pelosi has been the subject of such verbal abuse. I’ve arrived at one conclusion.
As a football fan, I’ve always despised Tom Brady and rooted against him. It goes back to the New England Patriots cheating to win a Super Bowl over the St. Louis Rams. But his achievements speak to the fact he is one of the GOATS (greatest of all time).
I think it’s a part of our nature to belittle opponents who achieve because we are envious of them. The more they achieve, the more we name-call.
Achievement in the House of Representatives is defined by getting legislation passed that is responsive to the needs of the country. Probably Pelosi’s most signature success is the Affordable Care Act, which is better known as “Obamacare.” This bill was a giant leap forward to making health care a human right rather than something only accessible to those who could pay for it.
All advanced civilizations have recognized such a right.
The bill could be more accurately described as “Pelosicare,” which President Obama would readily acknowledge. The House version of the ACA had been significantly revised by the Senate, with changes the House majority did not embrace.
During reconciliation of the House and Senate versions, Ted Kennedy passed away and a Republican was elected to take his place, shifting the Senate majority to Republicans. The only way to save the ACA was for the House to accept the Senate version, which many House Democrats did not like.
Speaker Pelosi held her party majority together to get the bill passed. Without it, up to 50 million Americans would still lack the full access to healthcare that health insurance enables.
When Pelosi became the first woman elected to a top congressional leadership role, the House was mostly an old white men’s club. Through her leadership, Democrats have worked to elect and elevate women and minorities into House leadership roles.
Some of you I know are tired of hearing about diversity. We call it the House of Representatives for a reason. It’s supposed to represent us. Fifty percent of “us” are women, and significant percentages of “us” are not white or heterosexual.
True leadership is most evident under fire. While insurrectionist cowards were roaming the U.S. Capitol’s halls this past January, eerily chanting Pelosi’s name, she was calling the Department of Defense and various police organizations for reinforcements. Her priority remained clearing the building so the House could fulfill its duty to certify the election.
Meanwhile, her president was watching TV in his dining room.
Being a party leader in Congress is like herding cats. Both parties have extremes of views and others more practically wanting to govern from the middle. Even with a majority, if you can’t get that majority to agree then nothing happens.
Just in the past year, Pelosi has delivered key legislation to provide pandemic relief, begin the work of rebuilding our infrastructure, started efforts to stop destroying our planet, and relocated key industries back to the U.S. Doing this required keeping the “Squad” of more extreme progressives/socialists in the boat.
Now we will see how Kevin McCarthy or some other Republican herds cats in the upcoming Republican House majority. A major Republican selling point in the just past election was a promise to reduce inflation.
Since the election, I have heard Republicans gleefully declare they are kicking Pelosi out and will open multiple House investigations into President Biden, his son Hunter, the FBI, the Justice Department and anyone else for which they harbor some grievance. I haven’t heard a peep of an idea about what they intend to do to fix inflation.
We don’t need to wait for distant historians to recognize Pelosi’s greatness, based on her notable achievements. Nor do we need to wait for history to see the legislative incompetence, problem-solving bankruptcy or moral deficiency of McCarthy and other notable congressional Republicans. They sold their souls long ago to stay elected.
Meanwhile, I want to thank departing Speaker Pelosi for her bold and courageous service in leading the House to deliver help when her country most needed it.
She is what makes America great.