Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) fended off a challenge from Tim Ryan by a vote of 134-63 Wednesday morning, in a closed door caucus meeting.
Kyle Griffin of MSNBC’s Last Word tweeted the vote:
Nancy Pelosi has been re-elected House Democratic Leader in a closed-door caucus mtg, fending off challenger Tim Ryan by a vote of 134-63.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 30, 2016
Pelosi has been blamed by some in the Democratic Party for much of what “went wrong” for Democrats in the 2016 election.
Jonathan Martin and Emmarie Huetteman The New York Times put it succinctly, “Ms. Pelosi, a 76-year-old San Francisco progressive, is expected to easily win re-election when her colleagues vote on Wednesday. But she has become a stand-in for complaints that Democrats have failed to offer a compelling, broad-based economic message to the working-class voters in the Midwest and South who helped them capture the House 10 years ago and made Ms. Pelosi the first woman speaker.
Representative Tim Ryan, who represents a blue-collar district in northeastern Ohio, has mounted an unexpected challenge to Ms. Pelosi and given voice to the message that House Democrats must broaden their appeal beyond the three liberal states — California, Massachusetts and New York — that now account for a third of their members.”
This argument has some merit but not used against Nancy Pelosi, and it’s also simply naive on the part of Rep. Ryan to suggest that white working class voters, who have benefited from Pelosi’s leadership on working class issues for all families, would vote Democratic if the face were changed from Pelosi to Ryan.
I live among the white working class in Pennsylvania. Largely Trump voters. The people who gave Trump this election. And not one of them cares a whit about actual policies. It’s all about Obama and feeling left behind. I know, because I talked to these folks every day and they told me, whether or not I wanted to hear it, all about their Clinton conspiracies and what they read on Facebook about Clinton killing JFK Jr, and no amount of fact-checking mattered. I would ask about policies and they would tell me that unions killed this country, and then tell me they used to be Democrats because their dad was in a union but now they are too smart for that. They would pretend they didn’t agree with Trump after he embarrassed the country numerous times, but then tell me we had to give him a chance. Why, I would ask. Well, he deserves it, he’s not a politician. But don’t you want someone who knows what they are doing? He will surround himself with the best. You mean like Steve Bannon? Well, it will be different when he gets into office.
See where this is going? There isn’t an economic reason. This isn’t just about jobs. It’s about a feeling, it’s about fantasizing about a time when the white working class ruled the country. It’s not real and no Democrat or Republican can make it real. It’s resentment against Obama, and that is to say yes, his skin color. It’s prejudice and resentment. Anyone who tells you that these folks just care about economic issues doesn’t live among them. That is what they tell reporters. But do the reporters live among them, know that they actually often have good jobs? Know that they watch nothing but Fox News and read nothing but Facebook memes? Yeah, sorry but your economic policies aren’t going to win them over.
Democrats can’t fix that by running after white working class voters with policy prescriptions; if that worked they would have won the 2016 election. Unless Democrats get better at simplistic phrases that fit on a bumper sticker, they will need to wait for these folks to age out. They are lost to Democrats unless Democrats want to be the party of racism, misogyny and lies.
Even hearing Democrats suggest that they need to chase after these white voters who are voting against their own interests out of feelings is insulting to those who care about equal rights for everyone.
But it’s also really ignorant. The problem Democrats need to address is voter suppression. They had the numbers. They had the voters. They had the message.
It was sitting back while Trump told his people to go intimidate Clinton voters that killed the Democrats in this election, along with Trump and the Republican Party using the FBI in an attempt to sway an election, and allowing the Russian hacks of the DNC to be used against an entire political party with Putin seemingly at the wheel. While we’re at it, how about the media chasing after Trump’s every flick of the wrist in his con artist magic show, while too many ignored his refusal to be vetted on even the most basic level. And of course, the press’ obsession with Clinton’s emails while Trump refusing to release his tax returns was casually mentioned but not obsessed over didn’t help.
Now we are left with a Supreme Court down one justice because Republicans also thwarted the Constitution on that issue and denied President Obama the right to do what the American people elected him to do.
Democrats need to stop being spooked by every peep made by Republicans, and that includes buying into the notion that they lost this election because they didn’t connect with white working class voters. Show some spine, get out there and defend the people’s right to vote. Don’t let them sink or swim on their own on election day. The people are on the Democrats side, and by people I do not mean just liberals. I’m also surrounded by plenty of white working class Democrats here, who actually pay attention to the issues and thus vote Democrat because of the party’s policies.
I also personally know of many female voters in Pennsylvania who did not vote out of fear in this election. Women who were intimidated at the polls and thus did not get out of their car, and women who were warned not to show up on election day and were too afraid to exercise their right to vote. While anecdotes are not evidence, people telling me this offhandedly concerns me, because how many more are there and why didn’t Democrats let them know they had their backs? It’s also worth noting that the numbers show that Democrats “didn’t turn out”, so these anecdotes possibly have a larger story to tell.
Fight harder for those people. Fight harder against Republicans when they steal liberties from the people. Stop apologizing and equivocating and trying to win favor with Republicans. They have done nothing for eight years but spit on President Obama and the American people, thwarting decent efforts to improve the lives of citizens.
Democrats need to stop thinking this is all their fault. They fought the Russians and the Russians won this round. Don’t let the Russians spook the entire party off course. “Stronger together” was a great slogan, it resonated with a majority of people. Make sure those people can, safely and without intimidation, vote.