Today's college students and young voters have never known a Democratic party without Nancy Pelosi. She represented California's Eighth District in the House for 15 years and held positions on several committees. In recent years, she has served as both Speaker of the House and as House Minority Leader, giving voice to the concerns of those in her party and breaking fundraising records. Democrats proudly supported her as the face of their movement and she successfully served her purpose.
Although her policies have seemingly always been controversial amongst her Republican counterparts, 2010 saw the beginning of a steady decline of her popularity within her own party. In 2010, Republicans regained control of the House, Pelosi lost her position as Speaker, became Minority Leader, and with every party loss, more and more blame was shifted unto her. Even more recently, the election of Donald J. Trump sparked a new wave of resent for Pelosi, and many Democrats have made it clear they want to see new leadership. With a figure so successful and so experienced, it is difficult to imagine why her own party has made such effort to force her out.
Born Nancy D'Alesandro on March 26, 1940, in Baltimore, Maryland, Nancy Pelosi was destined to enter the world of Politics. Her Father was a Congressman, and both her Father and brother served as Mayor of Baltimore. Pelosi graduated from Trinity College in Washington D.C. in 1962, where she met her husband, Paul, and they moved to San Francisco. Even with her strong family ties to politics, she had humble beginnings within the Democratic Party. Pelosi was focused on raising her family first, and volunteered for the Democratic party in California by hosting fundraising parties and assisting with campaigns. Slowly, she made her way up in the ranks and served as California representative to the Democratic National Committee from 1976-1996 while also working as the state and northern chair of the California Democratic Party.
In 1987, Pelosi won a special election for California's eighth district and became a member of the House of Representatives. Within the House, she worked on the Appropriations Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She avidly fought for increased funding for health care and health care research, housing programs, and improved environmental regulations. In 2002, she became the first female Democratic leader in the House, and in 2006, the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House. Finally, in 2010, she became the House Minority Leader, where she still stands today.
Pelosi's resume is extensive and her passion for public service is undeniable, so why do Democrats feel she has to be replaced amidst their most divisive and chaotic time in recent years? David Wasserman, an editor of "The Cook Political Report," believes it's all Republicans doing. He said in a tweet, "It's just extremely difficult for Ds to argue benefits of Nancy Pelosi's fundraising skills still outweigh the cost of her presence in GOP ads." His argument does carry weight. With the association of Pelosi and the sharp dropoff of unity in the party, Republican campaign ads hit their opposition hard in almost every state by running television advertisements that link the Democratic candidates to the "failures" of Pelosi.
By persistently connecting her to the destruction of her own party, many of these candidates resorted to distancing themselves from Pelosi. One such candidate is Kim Schrier, whose currently running for the eighth district in Washington state. When Nancy Pelosi's team offered funds to assist with a fundraising event for Kim Schrier, Schrier declined, adding she refused to take money from Pelosi. Kim said, "I see the party changing a lot … I think that the leadership needs to reflect the new party and that probably means it's not going to be Nancy Pelosi... I think that the leadership really needs to reflect this new, energized, forward-thinking party."
Another reason the Democrats could be driving her out, one that Pelosi herself has stated herself in the past, is because of her sex. Even though the left prides itself on its progressive social policies and its efforts to ensure equality for all, Pelosi may be on to something. Her record is extraordinary and her ability to unify her party in the past, like when she rallied Democrats to push the Affordable Care Act through, were unprecedented. She was the first woman in United States history to be Speaker of the House and the first woman to be the Democratic Leader in the House. She's fought for universal health care long before it was on the party's agenda as a whole, and she successfully led the party under a Republican president in the past, George W. Bush. Her support for the left has always remained unwavering, and Politico called her "the most successful nonpresidential political fundraiser in U.S. history."
Yet she's been criticized, blamed, and trashed relentlessly by the very people she's been so loyal to. Her male peers such as Bernie Sanders or Charles Schumer never seem to take the same heat from the party that Pelosi does, and her record is equally, if not more so, as impressive. There's no arguing she does her job well, even if you can't agree with her politics. An opinion piece in The Atlantic summarized this perfectly; "For women politicians to succeed, they must defeat and outmaneuver men. Yet the better at it they are, the more detested they become."
Regardless of whether your personal political beliefs dictate your opinion on Pelosi continuing her role as Minority Leader, it's clear she's worked hard and accomplished a great deal in her career. To diminish that and to judge her worth solely on the recent years that the Republican Party has managed to regain control and to blame her for the failures of the left is unjust. The Democratic Party is using her as a scapegoat, and rather than replacing one person and hoping to reunify, they must focus on rebuilding their entire party, rethinking their core ideas, and setting a clear goal for the future that voters can rally behind.