Bankole: Nancy Pelosi needs to go
When a general loses a war, it is expected that he or she should no longer lead another army to battle. The lesson is that anyone who was the leader in a party that lost not only a presidential but also congressional election has no standing to lead that party into another election. The individual simply needs to go.
And after the Nov. 8 election which by now should force the Democratic Party to go back to the drawing board, it seems the Democrats are finding it hard to learn the lesson that there should be an exit door for Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader. She reigned for more than a decade in the House including a tenure as its majority speaker.
Despite the blow Pelosi and the Democratic leadership received with the election of Republican Donald Trump as president, she hasn’t signaled stepping down as House minority leader.
Instead, she is waiting for a Nov. 30 vote that was scheduled at the behest of some House members to determine her future. She should step down now.
Pelosi should not wait for the troops in the House to decide her fate. She should have offered her resignation the day after the election and led a call for new leadership in the party.
That is what leadership means. Under Pelosi and others, Democrats failed to take back Congress. She cannot continue another term as the leader of the House Democrats. After all, she is part of the Democratic machine that needs a new engine to drive the issues that matter both in urban and rural areas and face the demands of a growing and frustrating constituency.
There are many reasons to explain Trump’s election. It is a mix of bitter racial resentment and xenophobia, genuine economic anxiety and fear and a glaring need for change in Washington.
And Pelosi isn’t the best envoy to convey that message of how divided the nation is given all the issues that gave rise to Trump’s victory. She is part of a status quo that is no longer a credible voice that can call for a political reawakening, and explain why once loyal Democratic voters — white working class and suburban educated white women — voted the way they did.
To put it plainly, the Democratic Party of Nancy Pelosi failed to make a compelling case that they are the party of the big tent.
Even in the African-American community, the party has been dismal in its outreach to grassroots activists and emerging leaders. Instead, it plays it safe by depending on a select group of black gatekeepers and negotiators who for centuries have convinced the party to rely on them instead of reaching out to the new voices, including the millennials who favored Bernie Sanders. In exchange for those assurances, these so-called gatekeepers are always the ones invited to speak at every Democratic rally during national and statewide campaigns, and to attend high-priced Democratic functions. That is not a winning future for the Democratic Party.
The future is one where Pelosi and others like her should relinquish their leadership positions and usher in a new wave — the kind that was central to the Sanders movement. The party needs an authentic and real message that addresses the core economic and racial justice issues in the black community, and to deal with and address some of the fears among the white working class, some of whom like others in the black community simply want a job that gives them dignity.
Keith Ellison, the House representative from Minnesota and Detroit native who is running to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee, represents the future.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan from the battleground state of Ohio has launched a bid to unseat Pelosi because he said it’s time for new leadership.
Pelosi should heed the call for change.
Bankole Thompson is the host of “Redline with Bankole Thompson” on Super Station 910AM weekdays at noon. His column appears Mondays and Thursdays.