Nancy Pelosi digs the Democratic Party a deeper grave

Tuesday night, house minority leader Nancy “this is fine” Pelosi participated in a CNN town hall to field questions from audience members and discuss the Democrats’ strategy “for the Trump administration’s agenda.” It was a perfect encapsulation of why the Democrats lost, and why they will continue to lose, should they adhere to their current leadership’s blueprint for failure.

The most memorable moment of the night was when an NYU student named Trevor went (politely) rogue and asked a thoughtful question about the future of the Democratic Party. After carefully thanking the Democrats for their progressiveness on social issues, he cited polls showing young people’s increasing skepticism towards capitalism and asked if there’s any way the Democrats could get just a smidge more populist when it comes to economics, pretty please with sugar on top:

“Now, that’s not me asking you to make a radical statement about capitalism, but I’m just telling you that my experience is that the younger generation is moving left on economic issues and I’ve been so excited to see how Democrats have moved left on social issues. As a gay man, I’ve been very proud to see you fighting for our rights and for — many Democratic leaders fighting for our rights.

But I wonder if there’s anywhere you feel that the Democrats could move farther left to a more populist message, the way the alt-right has sort of captured this populist strain on the right wing, if you think we could make a more stark contrast to right-wing economics?”

While this was a reasonable and relevant question, the mere mention of populist economics sent Pelosi into a longwinded defense of unrestrained capitalism that essentially boiled down to “go fuck yourself, poors.”

Flapping her hands like some sort of alarmed bird, the house minority leader began by reaffirming that the Democrats just are capitalists.

“Well, I thank you for your question. But I have to say, we’re capitalist. That’s just the way it is.”

In a delusional alternate history, Pelosi talked about how we have shifted from the good kind of capitalism, where CEOs only make 40 times what their workers make and take care of them out of the goodness of their hearts, to the bad kind, where wages do not keep pace with productivity and wealth accumulates at the top to an unacceptable degree. She said this began 15 to 20 years ago (so, during the Clinton years?) and fingered greedy “shareholder capitalism” as the cause.

Framing it in terms of individual morality rather than economic equations or material facts, Pelosi said nothing about the role unions once played in representing workers’ interests or the devastating effects anti-union laws, globalization, austerity, and the decline of traditional employment have had on American workers… probably because that would mean those things need to change, and the Democratic Party’s biggest donors like things just fine the way they are.

Her proposed solution to the current crisis, in which a few people have too much money and most have not enough, does not involve redistributing any of that money, but a type of magical thinking whereby if we just do the Care Bear stare on them long enough, the CEOs and shareholders of corporations will voluntarily give up some of their riches so their employees can send their kids to college and contribute to a robust economy:

“There are some enlightened corporations which say I’m keeping my whole staff through thick and thin, at the end of the day, I have a productive, trained, loyal workforce. So we have to change the thinking of people. I don’t think we have to change from capitalism. We’re a capitalist system. The free market is — is a place that can do good things.”

Pelosi also said some stuff about the social safety net, but she was too busy defending the free market to go into too much detail.

The crowd at the town hall was not amused.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Pelosi added the Democrats “have a responsibility” to find common ground with the Republicans:

“If we can build infrastructure — our roads, our bridges, our broadband, our water systems, et cetera, high speed rail, mass transit — let’s find a way to do that together. We can find ways to work family-and-work balance, as he said in the campaign was a priority, let’s do that…We respect that he’s the president. We want to work together.”

Because collaborating with fascists has gone so well for liberals in the past.

At a time when 18- to 29-year-olds just voted overwhelmingly for social democrat Bernie Sanders and are joining the Democratic Socialists of America in droves, it might behoove the Democratic Party to at least pretend to oppose Donald Trump’s right-wing economics. That said, I’m glad they’re starting to give more revealing answers on these issues, because it will be that much easier to know who to vote out in the next election.

May young Trevor run against Pelosi in 2020 and finish what gay socialist Harry Britt started in 1987. 

[screen shot: CNN]