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It's Up to Nancy Pelosi to Cave In
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How should the Democratic Party resolve its civil conflict between progressives and centrists? Society has a simple rule. When an argument gets out of control, it’s up to the side with the most money, power and social standing to extend an olive branch.

Even when kids are wrong, parents must make nice first.

In the workplace, a good boss knows that smoothing her employee’s ruffled feathers is her responsibility.

The same is true about international diplomacy. When a dispute between two nations becomes a crisis, there’s a stronger chance of keeping the peace when the bigger, stronger, richer country makes the first concession. (The United States doesn’t see things this way, which leads to many unnecessary wars.)

The vast majority of Democratic voters are self-identified progressives. Left populist progressives like “the Squad” — House Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — have millions of followers on social media, providing them outsized influence beyond their status as incoming freshmen.

Yet, the party apparatus remains under the control of the same center-right corporatist clique that took over in the 1970s. The Democratic National Committee is chaired by Tom Perez, a moderate aligned with the Clintons, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. They control party purse strings, ballot access, debate invitations and the imprimatur of legitimacy in the media outlets they control, like The New York Times, NPR and MSNBC.

It’s easy to see why establishment Democratic leaders like Pelosi are irritated by upstarts like AOC and “their public whatever and their Twitter world,” as she recently sniped. But Pelosi is 79 years old to AOC’s 29. She’s worth $30 million; AOC has zero savings. As speaker of the House, Pelosi has sat in the room watching President Barack Obama blow people up with drone missiles. AOC was tending bar.

Nancy Pelosi is a big girl. And she should act like one.

She should be mending the rift within her party. She should not be picking fights with someone young enough to be her granddaughter. It makes her look small. And it alienates progressive voters. When 72% of your party’s voters are progressives, and you’re not progressive yourself, you have to step gingerly if you want to avoid a revolt that topples you from power. If she wants to preserve her and her center-right faction’s control of the party, Pelosi should make amends with AOC’s Squad in word and in deed.

Episodes from opposite sides of the electoral-political spectrum illustrate the foolishness of the Pelosi Democrats’ broadsides against insurgent progressives.

California and national Republicans had been wary of Arnold Schwarzenegger when he entered the wild gubernatorial campaign that followed the 2003 recall of California Gov. Gray Davis. GOP leaders thought he was too moderate. But Schwarzenegger climbed in the polls, party bosses embraced him, and he won.


Faced with rising political stars within their party of whom they initially disapproved, Republican gatekeepers have been remarkably nimble at pivoting to adjust to the popular will expressed by their voters. They wanted Jeb Bush in 2014 and 2015 but were happy to join the formerly dreaded Team Trump by 2016.

Faced with populist challenges, Democratic bosses stubbornly defend their preselected moderates against populist challenges from the left: Jimmy Carter against Ted Kennedy in 1980, John Kerry against Howard Dean in 2004, Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders in 2016. They’re repeating the pattern now with Joe Biden.

What’s baffling is how the DNC alienates progressives in the general election campaign after it crushes them during the primaries. Uniting the party wouldn’t be hard: have the nominee support some progressive platform planks, pick a progressive as vice president, pledge to include progressives in the cabinet.

Center-right Democrats give progressives no quarter. They’re like Genghis Khan’s army, slaughtering with abandon, salting the fields, nothing left behind.

Hillary embodied this take-no-prisoners approach. After defeating Sanders — by repeatedly, overtly cheating — she offered no quarter, no offer of a veep spot. Even though his ideas were popular with voters, she wanted none of them. She refused to hire Sanders’ campaign workers.

It mostly went unnoticed, but Obama did the same thing, ignoring the progressive surge of John Edwards’ “two Americas” campaign during the 2008 primaries. Obama’s cabinet didn’t include a single liberal.

Dean and his supporters similarly found themselves left out in the cold after Kerry secured the 2004 nomination.

Considering the fact that snubbing the progressive base rarely works out for Democrats — it failed in 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, 2004 and 2016 — you’d think DNC insiders would rethink their strategy. It’s pretty clear that they would rather lose as a center-right party than win as a center-left one.

Pelosi’s open disdain for her party’s newest progressive stars continues this self-defeating tradition.

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  1. Svevlad says:

    Hehe, shit’s gonna go 3-way: loony progressives vs rightwingers vs the swamp (corporatocrats, the “centrists and moderates”)

  2. Nancy Pelosi hasn’t spent her entire political career climbing the greasy pole of democratic politics to allow her position as Speaker to be usurped by a freshman Congresscritter who doesn’t know how the system works. AOC is engaged in a power struggle with obsolete politicians who are of the wrong race. Old white females are as unacceptable in the new political era as white men.

  3. 36 ulster says:

    Tiny Duck seems to have a writing gig at Unz. No longer a mere provocateur with a <>…

    • Replies: @dfnslblty
  4. This is a pretty dumb article. AOC doesn’t want an olive branch. She want’s Nancy”s gavel. The old bull is eventually defeated by the young bull. But not without a fight.

    And the Never Trump faction of the Republican Party remains large and influential inside the party.

    If you are paying attention you know that Nancy defends The Squad when they are attacked by Mr. Trump. That’s why Trump attacks them. And Trump pretends to be on Nancy’s side making it even worse for her. Nancy is caught in a cross fire. If she can’t muzzle AOC and can’t reign in Nadler she will lose the election. Her last election.

    If there is to be a peace offering it should be extended to native born whites, heterosexuals and Christians. That might help Nancy with her election.

  5. Even when kids are wrong, parents must make nice first.

    In the workplace, a good boss knows that smoothing her employee’s ruffled feathers is her responsibility.

    Both these assertions are untrue and never have been true.

    When kids are wrong, kids are wrong. Parents don’t make nice first. And they have absolutely no obligation to make nice first. And why would they? If kids are wrong, they are wrong.

    A good boss submits to his employee who has done wrong?

    Ted Rall. Shame on you. You could not possibly believe what you wrote.

    Seriously you could not be that stupid.

    Why are you saying nonsense? Why???

  6. dfnslblty says:
    @36 ulster

    Out with the old; in with new.
    Plutocracy is old money.

  7. Ralls is right about one thing — the D’s would rather lose as a centre right party than win as a centre left one.
    Fair enough: they ARE a more than centre Right party, & anyway, there are ever fewer Benjamins the further Left you go….

  8. Paul says:

    Nancy Pelosi has to distance herself from the four women of “the squad.” She does not want to lose the seats that Democrats hold in moderate districts. Republicans would become the majority in the House, and she would no longer be the Speaker.

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