Pelosi and Perez Are Being Challenged For Changing Outdated Norms

On Wednesday some young climate activists, who were joined by newly elected Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, held a demonstration at Nancy Pelosi’s office. While we can debate whether it is a smart move to hold such an event at the office of a leader who is on your side as opposed to the myriad of Republican leaders who are climate deniers, Pelosi welcomed them with open arms.

That is what makes Pelosi a great leader and is a wonderful example of how Democrats embrace grassroots activism and organizing.

Because that happened on the same day that some House Democrats were organizing against the election of Pelosi as the next Speaker of the House, there are those who mistakenly conflate the two developments. But the group challenging Pelosi’s leadership is completely different.

As Paul Krugman noted on twitter, this is a group that is “still in the old cringe position, buying into GOP demonization (which happens to any strong Democrat) despite a huge midterm victory.” Cringing at the GOP’s demonization is a tactic that too many Democrats embraced in the past and is what sent so many of them on a journey rightward in search of validation. In other words, it is a losing strategy that undermines liberal values. The really superb Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms completely rejected that approach and it is clear that Nancy Pelosi joins them.

While that is happening, DNC Chair Tom Perez is facing a challenge from the Congressional Black Caucus for the committee’s decision to reign in the role of superdelegates in the presidential nominating process. You might remember that this issue surfaced during the 2016 presidential primary. Afterwards, Perez organized a “unity commission” to look at some of the demands made by the Sanders campaign. While many of the issues addressed by the commission were controversial, the vast majority supported the idea of barring superdelegates from voting on the first presidential nominating ballot at a contested national convention. But members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who serve as superdelegates, are not happy with the change.

The theme here is that, in their leadership positions, both Pelosi and Perez are challenging some of the old vestiges of power and strengthening the small “d” democratic processes in the party. It should come as no surprise that these changes are being resisted as power shifts from top-down to bottom-up. But it’s important for all of us to be clear about exactly what’s happening and weigh in accordingly.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .