Nancy Pelosi’s Future

If the Democrats lose control of the House, keeping Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic Leader is a top priority.

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.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

3 thoughts on “Nancy Pelosi’s Future”

  1. Jonathan:

    One counter-influence to what you fear is that if the Dems lose the House, the Blue Dogs will get especially slaughtered in the process, as the Boll Weevils were in 1994. The Blue Dongs won't be there to form the base of a moderate/anti-progressive challenge.

  2. When you say Hoyer voted for the bankruptcy bill, are you talking about the 2005 bill? If so, who is this guy and how can he hold such a powerful position within the party in charge of looking out for the working-class?

  3. You are mistaken; Hoyer is in the party looking out for the rich (as opposed to the part of the rich bigots).

Comments are closed.