With great power comes great responsibility. When things go well, the person in power tends to get the credit, and when they go poorly, that same person will bear the brunt of the nation's outrage. Nowhere does this maxim ring more true than in Washington, D.C, and this election cycle the American people sent a clear message to the party in power: We reject your policies and your agenda, and we hold you responsible for the mess you've created.
Since (with the exception of the President) no one represents the face of the Left more than Nancy Pelosi, a sizable cadre of Democrats have made it clear that they'd like to see her step aside as the top Democrat in the House. Much to their chagrin, however, Ms. Pelosi is unwilling to cooperate. In refusing to step aside, Ms. Pelosi is sending a message to her fellow Democrats that she values her own power more than the future of her party or the future of the country. This is a perfect example of the kind of selfishness, arrogance and tone deafness that the American people overwhelmingly rejected on November 3rd .
One thing that both parties seem to agree on in the wake of the midterm elections is that the American people sent a strong message that they are sick and tired of business as usual in Washington. The victorious GOP wasted no time in making it clear that they did not view the election as an endorsement, but as a second chance to earn the voters' trust. On the losing side, President Obama spoke for Democrats everywhere when he pledged to work harder and do better for the American people. The one Democrat that didn't perceive the elections as a referendum on the party in power was Former Madame Speaker Pelosi. Despite the wild success of the Tea Party movement and the widespread embrace of a limited government philosophy among successful GOP candidates this fall, Ms. Pelosi absolutely refuses to concede that the success of conservatives at the polls implies dissatisfaction with the policies of the Democrats in recent years. From the Huffington Post:
"Pelosi said that the vote was not a rejection of Democratic ideas, but frustration that those policies didn't work fast enough to create jobs. 'The election was no ringing endorsement of Republicans,' Pelosi said. 'We do not accept their version of what this election means. It's not about rejecting what President Obama has done. It didn't go fast enough to create jobs. That's what it's about.'"
These remarks bear striking resemblance to Ms. Pelosi's refusal to "accept" the concerns expressed about the trajectory of government spending and the pending health care legislation at townhall meetings and Tea Party rallies across the country during the summer of 2009:
"This [tea party] initiative is funded by the high end – we call call it astroturf, it’s not really a grassroots movement. It’s astroturf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class."
Notice a pattern here? If your opinion is contrary to Nancy Pelosi's opinion, then your opinion is illegitimate, period. If you say something that Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to hear, then you aren't really saying it. If you support an idea that Nancy Pelosi rejects, then you must be misguided, or confused, or a Nazi, or a racist.
Well, Ms. Pelosi was wrong about the Tea Party movement in 2009, and she is dead wrong about the meaning of the midterm elections today. The same citizens that she arrogantly dismissed as "astroturf" went on to found a new movement in American politics, a movement that has challenged the status quo in Washington and given rise to a new generation of Americans dedicated to restoring America to its founding vision. But instead of acknowledging the voice of this new movement, taking responsibility for her role in the Dems' electoral thrashing, and gracefully stepping aside, Ms. Pelosi has decided to run again. She even hosted a special reception this week celebrating “the accomplishments” of the 111 Congress!
It's no wonder that this unprecedented display of arrogance is not playing well with Democrats on the Hill, who are eager for a fresh start with the American people. They know that allowing Pelosi to retain her position as the top Democrat in the House would send a terrible message to the Republicans, and a worse message to the American people. Even though no one has stepped up to challenge Pelosi's bid for Minority Speaker, several Democrats have made it clear that they that they are not willing to sacrifice the future of their Party on the altar of one woman's oversized ego. Rep. Jim Matheson, Democrat from Utah put it this way:
"There's a growing number of people in the caucus saying, 'Why's she running for minority leader in the first place?' We just got thumped in this election in a major way, and to act like we can just go back and do the same thing over again. It just seems like a very obvious situation when change is called for."
Time is running out for Ms. Pelosi to execute a dignified and graceful exit. In the end, it may take an Act of Congress for her to get the message that her time has run out.