Friday, 5 November 2010

Nancy Pelosi, American Hero

As we bid farewell to Nancy Pelosi's Speakership, let's pause a moment to realise that the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives - the most powerful woman ever to serve in elected office in the USA - was also the most effective leader the Democrats have had in Congress for many generations.

Progressive, feminist, climate change hawk, child advocate, and proud San Fransican, Nancy was never a politician to win elections or legislative battles by selling out her beliefs. But win them she did.

Her term as Speaker was relatively short, but her accomplishments outrank most of her predecessors by a long way.

By any measure, Pelosi has been one of the most effective House speakers in American history, especially given her relatively short tenure. At Salon, Steve Kornacki offers a helpful recollection of her many accomplishments, from health care to student loan reform to the credit card bill of rights to cap and trade. Pelosi consistently delivered legislation that became law, as well as legislation that the Senate then stalled on and failed to pass. As Kornacki writes, Pelosi is unpopular less because of what the House has done or failed to do — most Americans have little idea of those particulars — but because the economy is bad and voters wanted someone to blame.

But there’s another factor that makes Pelosi that much easier to scapegoat: She is a woman — the highest-ranked woman ever to hold elective office in the United States. In January 2007, Pelosi gaveled in her first legislative session as speaker while cradling her newborn grandson (one of seven grandchildren) and surrounded by other legislators’ offspring, whom she had invited to the dais to celebrate. She spoke about her own journey from “kitchen to Congress” and promised that the Democratic Party would govern on behalf of children, and their mothers, too — a vow she fulfilled by collecting the votes to pass the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which insures 11 million kids, and the Lily Ledbetter Act, which made it easier for victims of gender- and race-based pay discrimination to file civil rights complaints and collect back pay.


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Get Angrier

Last night, the Republicans appear to have won over 60 seats in the US House of Representatives, taking back majority control of that body, while at the same time picking up at least 6 seats in the Senate. Democrats will retain a majority in the Senate and were relieved to hold onto some critical seats there that looked like they would be hard to hold - most notably, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held onto his seat in Nevada against all odds.

So... that was a pretty crappy night for us, really. No two ways about it. The defeat of (sorry Mom) batshit crazy non-Witch Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and baseball bat wielding loon Carl Paladino in New York by substantial double digits won't stop the so called Tea Party from tightening their stranglehold on the Republican party. They now own it. They've proved in this election cycle that they can take down in the primary any Republican who shows any hint of an interest in actually solving the nation's problems. Climate change doesn't exist, immigration should be punished (and screw the law abiding Latinos who get caught up their dragnet), the only acceptable way to even attempt to fix the economy is with more tax breaks for the rich. Welcome to the new rules.

Well I say screw that.

President Obama's going to make a speech pretty soon, and I'm sure that as usual his words will be wise, reasonable and right. But I wanted to post before he speaks to tell you that, from my point of view, election 2012 starts today.

I'm incredibly proud of the Democrats accomplishments of the past two year. Against resistance from every faction of the Republican party we've salvaged the economy, rescued the auto industry (which, amazingly, is now restored to full profitibility), delivered a stimulus package that economists agree is responsible for keeping or creating between 1.5 and 3.3 million jobs, and passed health care reform that will cover 95% of the population and will serve as our lasting legacy for generations to come.

It was the most successful Congress of the past hundred years, and seems to have started to but it wasn't enough - not nearly enough to solve the deep and lasting damage that has been done to the economy by 8 years of Republican mismanagement. And people angry. I don't blame them

The problem is that people have lashed out, in their anger, at the only people they could knowck down - the overwhelming Democratic majorities in Congress. We were in their sites, so they took us down.

I think the voters weren't nearly angry enough. I know I wasn't.

Republicans now say they want to spend the next two years obstructing, blocking, investigating and holding hearings on the Democrats. For instance,

The GOP plans to hold high profile hearings examining the alleged "scientific fraud" behind global warming, a sleeper issue in this election that motivated the base quite a bit.

Now that they have the reigns of power in the House, what are they hoping to accomplish with it? Well, nothing actually,

"If you put too much of the actual official power in the hands of the Republicans, it makes them responsible. Right now, I think they're in perfect position tactically. Control the House, object, propose stuff that Obama may veto and run on that against him in 2012.”
While the country has a 9.6% unemployment rate? Does this sound to you like a party that has any interest in, oh, I don't know, fixing things?

Me neither.

The 2012 election campaign starts RIGHT NOW. And I say, bring it on. This is a fight we have to win.