Pelosi and the Progressives
Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, a member of the 2007 Class of DMI Scholars, is blogging from the America's Future Now conference.
Throughout her speech at the America’s Future Now conference, House Speak Nancy Pelosi took time to recognize support from progressives outside of government—especially during the health care reform effort. More valuably, especially for the young activists attending the conference, she listed the support she received from progressive organizations in the form of grassroots organizing, amplification, and community outreach. She didn’t touch on criticism of the Obama administration from the left, but she did attempt to anticipate and answer criticisms about acting too slowly, too cautiously, and too moderately.
Pelosi began by acknowledging Memorial Day, taking that moment to underscore the importance of repealing DADT. And Pelosi hit the right notes on energy, urging Senate support for energy reform, and didn’t shy from addressing the oil spill despite criticism directed at the administration. Rather, Pelosi waxed fiery as she insisted that the oil spill demonstrates the necessity of ending dependence on oil—and linked oil independence to national security, jobs, and health. As she said:
Gulf of Mexico — what more evidence that we need a new energy policy?
Pelosi promised to hold BP accountable. Her continuing jobs emphasis incorporated asides on banking, regulation, and taxes. Pelosi emphasized closing the tax loophole that allowed businesses to take jobs overseas—labor shout-out accomplished.
Despite the best efforts of a group of protestors, the speech was strengthened rather than derailed by a protests launched by Code Pink and ADAPT. Pelosi remained completely in control.
The protests amounted to a degree of embarrassment given the conference’s failure to prevent or shut down the protest—and a negative reflection on the progressive movement more widely because of the behavior of this group. But the actions of the extreme group seemed to nudge the more mainstream progressives a little closer to the Democratic legislator before them. There seemed to be a greater receptivity to Pelosi’s statements, some of which defied and challenged swirling discontent with the Obama administration voiced by some speakers and attendees. Of course, Pelosi’s ending note, thanking progressive agitators for their relentlessness, dissatisfaction, and impatience as advocates for change, also did a considerable amount to bridge that gap. As did her reassurance to her supporters in the crowd:
Listen I’m used to noise, that’s all I deal with at the Democratic caucus every day.