Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the Dems lose control of the House this coming November. The party will face three inside-baseball questions immediately:
1) Does Pelosi want to continue as House Minority Leader?
2) Is she able to do so if she wants to?
3) What are the stakes for progressive politics?
I have no idea as to 1) and 2), but I strongly suspect that the answer to 3) is “very high.” She pushed health care through when everyone else was ready to surrender, and engineered a very successful 111th House. Presumably any challenge to her would come from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who has caved on key issues (e.g. voting yes on the bankruptcy bill).
I fear that the tendency will be to run for the hills, move into a defensive crouch, and blame the Speaker. That would be a disaster, both for progressives and the country. But it might happen.
There are not too many precedents here. The last I can recall was Rayburn, who twice became Minority Leader after holding the Speakership (in 1946 and 1952), and of course both times returned to the Speaker’s chair. But that was a different era, and I’m not sure it is relevant here.
The other day I mentioned that one critical job of Blue Blogistan, should the GOP regain control of the House, will consist in stiffening Democratic spines (what they have of them). Key to that effort will be keeping Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic Leader, and engaged Democrats need to be prepared both to defend her position and persuade her to stay on if need be.