Pelosi’s historic tenure should be the blueprint for the new Democratic leaders

There are few political figures today who are more vilified by conservatives than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, largely because she was so effective. From her leadership of the Affordable Care Act through Congress more than a decade ago to her steady hand during the tumultuous Trump era, she has built a legacy that history will handle far better than its detractors.

But 82-year-old Pelosis’ decision last week to step down as House Democrat leader is correct, as he will be handed over to a new generation by a narrow majority in the Republican House of Representatives during what is sure to be a confrontational reign.

Those succeeding Pelosi should strive to offer the same stability and seriousness that brought her to her post — which must also include curbing the often counterproductive instincts of the party’s hard left.

Pelosi became the first woman to be elected to a senior position in Congress in 2007.

Since then, in her responsibilities to House Democrats as both a speaker and minority leader, she has built a historically diverse House caucus that has promoted women, racial minorities and LGBTQ candidates to seats of parliament and leadership in unprecedented numbers.

At the same time, she has adeptly tended the cats that make up her philosophically divided party and pushed through landmark healthcare, pandemic relief and infrastructure legislation, convincing her perennially disaffected fellow Democrats of the need for compromise and realism.

Contrary to the Republican caricature of her as a quasi-socialist, Pelosi has generally sought to “govern from the center,” as Barack Obama once advised.

Not everyone in her party was happy about this.

The left-wing young House progressives known as “The Squad” (which includes St. Louis Rep. Cori Bush) have injected some energy into the faction, but also caused a partywide headache with their defi-the-police nonsense and other distractions caused.

Pelosi has generally managed to walk the tightrope of keeping her at the table and not allowing her ideological extremism to dominate her faction.

House Republican leaders can’t say that — not with Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and other nutcases on the right poised to wield significant influence among the upcoming GOP House majority.

The Democrats’ best response would be to install new leaders who can uphold their party’s ethos of diversity, tolerance, and progress while addressing Democrats’ missteps head-on on issues like inflation and crime.

Pelosi’s heir-elect, New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, 52, appropriately highlighted both of these issues in a letter to colleagues last week. Jeffries, who would become the first black caucus leader, is familiar with the party’s left but not dependent on it.

At first, that seems like the right mix for Democrats to continue to manage their own internal conflicts while uniting to confront the excesses of the Republican right over the next two years.

– St. Louis mail delivery