Big Winner Nancy Pelosi

Democrats keep losing elections - but still control the country's direction.

Regardless of how unpopular President Trump might appear to be in various polls, Democrats have lost all five of the recent special elections to replace members of the House of Representatives whom Mr. Trump had appointed to federal office.

In particular, Democrats lost despite pouring enough money into the Georgia election to make it the most expensive House election ever.  This unbroken string of frustrating failure has caused many Democrats to call for replacing Representative Nancy Pelosi as the minority leader in the House.

This song has been sung before.  Representative Tim Ryan challenged her for party leadership after the Democrats lost the White House to Mr. Trump in 2016; Ms. Pelosi won resoundingly, 134 to 63.  The New York Times reported:

Ms. Pelosi, whose victory was mockingly cheered by Republicans as good news for them, dismissed the idea that House Democrats could no longer win with her at the helm. And she vowed that Democrats would continue to stand as a foil to President-elect Donald J. Trump's administration.

"We know how to win elections," Ms. Pelosi said. "We've done it in the past. We will do it again by making that differentiation."

In the event, she has just lost five "winnable" elections in a row.  Her critics have pointed out that the Republicans repeatedly advertise that regardless of a voter's opinions of Mr. Trump, sending another Democrat to the House would support Ms. Pelosi's policies, all of which are anathema to Republicans.  Thus the thought that she ought to be replaced with a less divisive figure.

Money, the Mother's Milk of Politics

There are many reasons why this is unlikely to happen.  For one thing, during her 15 years in House leadership, Ms. Pelosi has learned to get pretty much anything she wants from her Democrat colleagues.

"She has a lot of friends," Mr. Ryan said. "This is her caucus, clearly."

Even more importantly, the Times explained why her job is secure regardless of the five straight losses:

Since entering the House Democratic leadership in 2002, Ms. Pelosi has raised nearly $568 million for her party. Just in the 2016 election cycle, she raised over $141 million. ..."  [emphasis added]

"Nobody pushed Michael Jordan into retirement," said Representative Emanuel Cleaver II, Democrat of Missouri.

Political money contributed to Republicans is clearly evil, but money given to Democrats is not only OK, it's influential enough to keep a failed leader in power.

A handful of principled or far-left Democrats think Rep. Pelosi's popularity with the monied set is a bit unseemly for a party that claims to care about the little guy:

"You can't tell people you're against big money, that you're fighting for the average American, and then spend so much of your time with PACs and corporate interests and the very wealthy," said Representative Beto O'Rourke, a Texas Democrat who has been frustrated with Ms. Pelosi and is running for the Senate. In any case, Mr. O'Rourke added, "if money were the critical factor, we'd be in the majority right now."  [emphasis added]

This is clearly a minority view among Democrats, as expressed by their continued votes to keep her as leader.  Do they, perhaps, know something that is not obvious?

Loser?  What Loser?

The real reason Ms. Pelosi isn't going anywhere is that her losses are in numbers only.

Yes, she no longer commands a Democrat majority in Congress and doesn't seem to be able to win any more seats to make up the difference.  On paper, this looks very bad: isn't the whole point of a political party to win seats and thus power?

Yet in spite of losing legislative seats, the overall "big government" philosophy represented by Nancy Pelosi's Democrats is winning even without a Democrat in the White House or Democrats in official charge of either house of Congress.  Although they've lost more than 1,000 federal, state, and local elective offices since President Obama took office, Democrat "big government" ideas are supported wholeheartedly by the "deep state."

Every swamp-dwelling federal and state government employee supports Ms. Pelosi's theories of governance and will spare no effort to help her thwart President Trump's efforts to "drain the swamp."  Their support makes it possible for her to keep her vow that Democrats would "stand as a foil" to President Trump's administration.  She didn't mean elected Democrats, she was referring to the entire Federal bureaucracy, much of the court system, and nearly all of the media, who are as loyal Democrats as any elected official.

Ms. Pelosi doesn't even seem to care that Democrats have lost so many elective positions - and, really, why should she?.  She acts as if government isn't run by elected officials anyway.  She doesn't mind the Republicans' successful efforts to use her as a reason not to vote for Democrats.  Her Democrats have enough Senators and Representatives to block most of Mr. Trump's agenda, particularly since the Stupid Party can't get its act together, and the swamp dwellers will continue the policies she favors.

Yes, President Trump is signing executive orders, only to have them kneecapped by pro-swamp courts.  Republicans campaigned on repealing Obamacare for years and now can't even pass a bill despite commanding majorities.  A handful of new onerous Obama-era regulations have been rolled back - leaving a half-century of overregulation still firmly in place.  Progressives are hollering as if Republicans just skinned and ate their puppy, but really, they have nothing to complain about.  Insider Dems know this, which is why Nancy Pelosi is still sitting pretty.

As Chief Swamp Critter, she's a major force behind efforts to keep Mr. Trump from draining it.

Has Mr. Trump been able to build his wall?  Nope.

Has Mr. Trump been able to repeal Obamacare?  Nope.

Has Mr. Trump been able to cut taxes on anyone?  Nope.

Has Mr. Trump gotten rid rid of our idiotic ethanol subsidies which lower "gasoline" mileage while increasing carbon generation?  Nope.

Has Mr. Trump been able to cut the sorts of solar subsidies which have turned German electricity into a luxury good?  Nope.

Has Mr. Trump been able to do much about the swamp?  Nope, nope and nope!

Why should Ms. Pelosi care who wins elections?  Why should she go anywhere as long as she's winning so yuuuugely where it really counts?

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

I think you are being too harsh on Trump's achievements. He's already got his first SCOTUS pick in, with perhaps 2 more coming down the pipe. That alone could be sufficient to turn the ship of state around.

He's been in office just under 6 months, and you're complaining he hasn't accomplished the things you listed yet? We're just getting started. By 2020, I do expect to see Obamacare repeal (really don't care whether it's "replaced"), a wall at least partially built (people like to see physical structures, but that "wall" could just as easily be one of concrete, electronics/sensors, or simply flying lead), and an end to some subsidies (tax cuts are less of a priority).

ALL of us need to drain the swamp, he can't do it all by himself.

July 7, 2017 12:25 PM

Not sure if it is Ms Pelosi's doing or the legacy of President Obama's 8 year Dependency State. The health care debates seem to revolve around the fact that people would prefer that someone else pay their medical bills. Insurance reform seems to be the easy one. The hard one is winding down the open ended entitlement that is Medicaid. It is very difficult to take away freebies. Especially from people who have left the work force and don't really have any marketable skills. While our economy has about 6 million open job positions, these folks are not willing or ready to fill them.
While it may have been a mistake to make reforming Obamacare the top priority, it did zero in on the key issue that tick off the core Trump supporters...people turning safety nets into hammocks.

July 7, 2017 12:53 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...