I have been writing for weeks about the how many new Democratic members ran on the pledge to insist on new leadership, particularly in the opposition to Nancy Pelosi resuming as Speaker. Pelosi remains one of the most polarizing figures in the country and has long been unpopular with the majority of voters. However, these elections are not about the voters or even the party. It is about the members and their interests. Pelosi spent weeks working members with promises of committee positions and support. The result is that the new Democratic Party looks a lot like the old Democratic Party — and the new members have found a new home in the Washington establishment. Pelosi, 78, will resume the speakership today while Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), 78, will return as Majority Whip . . . and all is well in the Beltway after another “revolutionary” election.
Pelosi will be the first person since the Texas Democrat Sam Rayburn, to return to the speaker’s chair after losing it. At a time when the Democrats are desperately seeking younger voters, she will also be the oldest person ever elected speaker. However, it is her unpopularity with the majority of voters that makes this choice so glaring for many who want to see a rebuilding of the party away from the Washington establishment.
A new Gallup poll shows Pelosi is liked by just 38 percent of the voters. Roughly half of the voters dislike her. Notably, independents hold highly unfavorable views: the group essential for any Democratic success in 2020. Mitch McConnell’s numbers are equally low.
The question is why the establishment would select someone who remain unpopular with roughly half of the voters. The answer again is that elections are not about the voters. It is about the members and what they can get from a speaker and preserving their control over power. Change is a wonderful campaign slogan but it is the last thing that anyone in Washington would accept with trillions of dollars moving through Democratically controlled committees this term.
So ancien régime is the new order of the day. Vive la révolution