Nancy Pelosi may turn out to be the IT girl of modern politics. Those who view her as “old guard” and argue it’s time for a change, might be looking out the rear view window while Nancy, sitting in the driver’s seat, has a clear view of the road ahead. Oh yes, at least one freshmen Democrat in Congress has decided to pick a fight, arguing salaries for staff members in Congress fall far below those of the elected elite. That old bone has been lying around since the death of the New Deal, when Labor worked with government as an advocate for a living wage. Once Wall Street took over with its vision of world markets, the burden of economic competition has been placed on the backs of workers.
To turn this ship of state around, our newly elected will need more than slogans and the spit of moral indignation. They will need to finesse the art of the deal. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the architect of the New Deal lifted all boats through compromise, some of it gut wrenching. “To win those votes, Northern and Southern Democrats had to accept the South’s white supremacist racial system: they agreed that new federal programs would maintain and reinforce segregation. ”Brand New Left, Same Old Problems,” Suzanne Burger, Foreign Affairs, 9/10 2018, pg. pg. 213.)
If our new idealists wish to make a difference, they face making compromises. Can they do that? Frankly, a whiff of Tea Party intransigence hangs about them. Still, like it or not, the Blue Dogs exist, made more intractable by a vocal, liberal left. To move legislation, our Democratic House Speaker may, at times, need to crossover to gain support from Republican moderates, if any remain.
Life would be simple, if political divergence between progressives and conservatives was the only hurdle. Add to the mix a global economy, global warming, the vested interest of international corporations and the burgeoning economies of third world countries. The last requires developed nations to yield more to poorer ones, a moral argument that has a place in the debate. Building walls on our southern borders won’t address inequality.
Every journey begins with a compass but few journeys go as the crow flies. Detours happen. Having traveled much of the road, Nancy Pelosi has the stamina for the journey. If history gives her insights, well and good. That doesn’t make her a leader with old ideas. That makes her a leader who sees the bigger picture.