Nancy Pelosi's Re-election Shows A Party Getting Ready For War

Pelosi is a seasoned brawler and the Democratic Party already has a winning coalition of voters in place.
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Justin Rosario
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Pelosi is a seasoned brawler and the Democratic Party already has a winning coalition of voters in place.
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There's been a lot of hand-wringing over Nancy Pelosi's victory over challenger Tim Ryan. The consensus of those opposed to her is that the Democrats need to change and something something something White People.

Mr. Ryan argues that his party can only rebuild if it re-establishes itself as the party of the working class.

“We’ve lost that brand, and that’s the brand that gets you elected,” said Mr. Ryan, who is also thought by colleagues to be considering running for governor of Ohio in 2018.

Yes, Ryan is clearly talking about the white working class because the last time anyone checked, the Democratic Party was busting its hump to support the entire working class, brown as well as white. Ryan's call for the party to refocus on the "working class" is the same suicidal call to send marginalized groups to the back of the bus in favor or appealing to white people.

Bernie's recent "African-American CEO" line has become a new (and very obnoxious) straw man talking point to shame minorities into acquiescing to white concerns. It suggests that people whose main focus is their identity (black, female, gay, trans, or an intersection of several identities) would support a black CEO even if he was outsourcing jobs. In other words, identity politics is about tokenism.

Curiously, one does not see liberals from marginalized groups actually doing this. Gay liberals do not support gay Republicans. Latino liberals do not love Marco Rubio. Female liberals do not swoon over Sarah Palin. Tokenism on the left is not a thing.

The reality is that one can practice identity politics and still support economic justice. That's part of what motivates Latinos to fight for immigration reform. Undocumented workers want to pay all of their taxes. They want to support their local schools. They want people, not just themselves, to receive a living wage. White people do not face all of the challenges facing Latinos and never will.

The same goes for Black Lives Matter. They also want the police to stop killing unarmed white men and Latinos. They want mass incarceration and all of the socioeconomic destruction it causes to end. They want their brothers and fathers and sons to lead productive lives. Something they can't do if they're dead or arrested for little to no reason. Whites do not face these challenges nearly as often as blacks.

The problem with making the working class the main focus of the Democratic Party is that it always seems to default to the "white working class", as if the brown working class does not exist. Yes, a rising tide lifts all boats but the boats of the brown working class have a lot of holes punched in them (racial profiling, institutional racism, generational wealth inequality). Ignoring those holes ensures that white people benefit the most and that is not how the left advances its agenda of equality for everyone.

The media is depicting Pelosi's victory as tone deaf in the face of a crushing defeat, but that's pure bullshit. Yes, the Democrats lost but only by the narrowest of margins in a handful of states. Even with the historically low voter turnout, unprecedented levels of institutionalized voter suppression, manipulation by foreign governments, a massive failure of the press to properly do its job, and illegal tampering by the FBI, Hillary still won the popular vote by over 2.5 million votes. 

That is not a party that is failing, that's a party that had a boulder put on its back that almost crossed the finish line first anyway. And let's be honest, we're going to need to be on our A game to block as much of Trump's nightmare as possible:

Bring it on,” Ms. Pelosi said, recalling how Democrats rallied in opposition to President George W. Bush’s attempt to overhaul Social Security after his 2004 victory. “This is an opportunity for us. We know how to do it. We have done it before.”

There's a reason Pelosi is the second most hated woman on the planet by Republicans. She spent years keeping the House Democrats on message and in total opposition to Republicans. We need that kind of leadership going forward if we're ever going to retake Congress without turning our backs on minorities.