It’s past time time for Nancy Pelosi to go.
It would have been appropriate for her to step down after Republicans took control of the House – ending her speakership – in 2010.
Instead, Pelosi stayed as minority leader, hoping for a return to power. It didn’t come in 2012, despite President Obama’s reelection. Nor did it come in 2014.
This year was another disappointment. Despite early talk of retaking the House – or at least making a big bounce back – the Democrats seemingly gained only six seats.
It’s time to give someone else a chance.
That happened in the Senate. Minority leader Harry Reid, 76, did not run for reelection. But in the House, Pelosi, also 76, wants to hang on.
She hoped to force a quick election for the Democratic leader post. A tactic she’s used before, it leaves potential opponents little opportunity to organize. But House Democrats insisted they need more time. So, the vote now won’t be held until late November.
Pelosi tried to scare off competition, claiming in a Wednesday letter she had the support “of more than two-thirds” of the House Democratic Caucus. But on Thursday, Ohio Representative Tim Ryan announced he was making the plunge. Displacing Pelosi will be an uphill battle. Leadership struggles generally are, because most wait to see if a challenger is viable before abandoning the current leader.
Still, Democratic congressfolk, who have given heavily from their campaign committees to boost Team Pelosi’s take-back-the-House efforts only to be disappointed, are frustrated.
Leadership is now more urgent as members consider how to reconnect with white working-class voters, who powered Donald Trump to victory – a problem Ryan has highlighted. It’s hard to see Pelosi as that puzzle’s answer.
“She is likely to win this again, but there’s a lot of heartburn in the caucus,” says one congressman. “There’s broad agreement we need a strategic shift.”
That gives Ryan a fighting chance. But there’s a better solution here: Rather than have her party engage in a bitter intramural battle, Pelosi should recognize, after 14 years helming House Democrats, it’s time to let new leaders emerge.
She has much to be proud of. A key figure during the Obama era, she was also the first woman to lead a party in Congress and the first female speaker.
But no one in public life is indispensable. In parliamentary systems, party leaders often resign after their governments fall or their electioneering efforts come up short. That’s healthy. It lets parties recalibrate in a way that’s otherwise difficult. And congressional Democrats need to do just that.
As for Pelosi, opportunities abound for someone of her skills, knowledge, connections and fund-raising ability. She could even run for California governor. After all, the Golden State seems to value leadership from liberals in their golden years.