Only those willing to sacrifice it deserve great power. That's why I'm on #TeamPelosi.

Only those willing to sacrifice it deserve great power. That's why I'm on #TeamPelosi.

As an avalanche of support from elected Democrats, Obama officials, labor unions, and progressive groups threaten to bury opponents of Nancy Pelosi’s return to the Speakership on the supposed “Left,” the detractors are clinging on to a pathetic, desperate talking point: Nancy Pelosi is not really responsible for engineering the Democrats’ path to power, they say. Or at least, she cannot be credited for the ascendancy unless she is also blamed for the Democratic losses in 2010’s Republican wave that ended the then-Democratic majority in the House.

Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, the last best hope of the five white guys who are hanging onto their Pelosi-hate for dear life, told CNN’s Manu Raju - interestingly enough, Raju seems to be the pot stirrer in CNN’s impressive quest to be equal opportunity harassers as they are panned by the White House for being one-sided - the following:

Now, the loss in 2010 was largely due to depressed Democratic turnout caused by withering bashing of the Obama administration and the Democratic majority … from the Left, but it is not entirely unfair to hold Nancy Pelosi at least partially responsible for the loss. Speaker Pelosi and President Obama did, in some fashion or other, know that pushing through the Affordable Care Act - which was already the subject of fever-pitch opposition caused by disinformation and racism - could cause a backlash and put Democrats out of power in Congress. But they pushed it through in 2010 anyway, and Democrats suffered a bloodbath.

That was the exact moment I knew that Nancy Pelosi had earned her claim to power.

Being in power is not simply - or even mostly - about what one is willing to do to ascend to power. In a just society, it is more fundamentally about the price at which one is willing to sacrifice immense power.

When Democrats had the full power of the elected branches of the federal government, they had a choice: they could usher in transformative change, rescue a hemorrhaging economy and risk losing power in the very next election. Or, they could put band-aids on the wounds, pursue a few measures that did not arouse Right wing fire in an attempt to protect their power. They could make major progress even if ideologues in their own party accused them of being weak and sellouts, or they could surrender to the faction of the Left that seeks to rival the Tea Party in their political purism.

The Democrats, led by President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, chose the path of transformation and progress, especially on the issue of health care, even as Democratic strategists - including the president’s own chief of staff - urged inadequate, piecemeal health care legislation in order to avoid an electoral bloodbath. Although President Obama’s commitment was invaluable, it would not have been possible without Nancy Pelosi’s leadership. In the face of racist protests, Republican lies, and the likelihood of being thrown out of the powerful Speakership herself, Nancy Pelosi held her caucus together to corral enough votes to pass health care reform, a tectonic shift in policy that for the first time in history, made health care for everyone a social and national responsibility.

Politically, it might as well have been a suicide move for Congressional Democrats. In a red wave fueled by the Right’s hate, 63 Democrats lost their seats in the House, and Nancy Pelosi went from being a consequential Speaker to an almost-powerless Minority Leader.

That was the sacrifice Nancy Pelosi was willing to make to get health care reform done. She was willing to give up her caucus’ dominance so that children and young adults could no longer be thrown out of their parents’ health care plans. She was willing to lose her gavel so that no one, ever again, could be denied insurance or priced out of health care just because they have a pre-existing health condition. She was willing surrender power with a smile so that families and individuals could finally get some help in purchasing coverage. She was willing to lose all her clout to make sure the working poor could get health care through the biggest expansion of Medicaid in history.

Because Nancy Pelosi was willing to sacrifice power, 20 million more Americans have health care. Because Nancy Pelosi was willing to sacrifice power, things like maternity care and mental health are now essential parts of health plans. Because Nancy Pelosi was willing to sacrifice power, your treatment for cancer or another serious condition won’t stop just because the cost of care has reached some artificial limit set by insurance companies.

Put in short, because Nancy Pelosi was willing to sacrifice power, countless lives have been saved.

Nancy Pelosi’s willingness to sacrifice great power is perhaps the most important reason this brilliant tactician, unparalleled strategist and unequaled fundraiser deserves the power of the gavel again.



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