Progressives squeezed by the war between Pelosi-type corporate establishment and anti-Pelosi corporate lobbyists
The anti-Pelosi insurgency is not a movement. It’s a cabal, orchestrated by the appropriately hashtagged #FiveWhiteGuys, a group of self-self-interested players with big money behind them. These white males resemble nothing so much as the next-generation terminator played by Robert Patrick in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” They’re cunning, aggressive, shape-shifting, and so reflective that anyone who looks at them sees only a distorted image of themselves.
Here’s something else worth knowing about Democratic power in the House: Its party organizations are still deeply hierarchical, and are built on deeply embedded relationships. If the Moulton/Ryan gang succeeds in unseating Pelosi, the speakership will not go to someone the left supports. Sure, it would be great to see Barbara Lee become Speaker, but that simply isn’t going to happen. Besides, she’s not even running. (Lee is running for the House’s number five position.)
The Five Guys (not to be confused with the burger chain of the same name) and their backers are almost certainly looking for one of two outcomes: either Pelosi accedes to their demands, which will paralyze the Democratic agenda, or Pelosi is replaced with someone who will. But if Pelosi goes down, that replacement will probably not be Rep. Marcia Fudge, despite her public expressions of interest (as of this writing) and Moulton’s professed support for her.
The Five Guys may block Pelosi, but they will not choose her successor. Instead, in the chaos that would follow a Pelosi defeat, the speakership will probably go to the second-highest member of the Democratic hierarchy: Steny Hoyer.
The left is distressed with Pelosi, and that’s understandable. Pelosi’s commitment to “pay as you go” funding is a political and procedural mistake of the first order. The new tax rule is, as MoveOn.org and others have said, “a staggeringly bad idea”—although that may have been forced on her by the Five Guys crowd. (Progressives should note, however, that this rule could be waived at any time to pass progressive programs.)
A Hoyer speakership would be a catastrophe for the left, for reasons Politico’s Bill Scher lays out here. Hoyer represents the worst of the corporate-backed, “centrist,” economically neoliberal party elite. His faction’s disastrous policies and muddled messaging led it into the political wilderness. With this election, the party has only begun to make up some of the ground lost under its rule.
Progressives should mobilize to defeat Hoyer and replace him, preferably someone who can serve as an heir apparent. And if the left wants a more progressive House Speaker, it needs to run candidates in more primaries. When House Democrats are more progressive, Pelosi or her successor will either change accordingly or be replaced.
This country needs a mass movement that will demand fundamental political change. But nobody needs the Five Guys’ corporate-backed chaos, or the reactionary regime it seeks to impose on the House of Representatives.
If some leftists don’t want Pelosi to win, that’s understandable. But they should hope with all their hearts that her opponents lose.