Opinion

The Next Democrat Speaker of the House?

|
Posted: Jun 08, 2018 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent the views of Townhall.com.
The Next Democrat Speaker of the House?

The Republican Party is in a political hurt locker. As tradition teaches, the upcoming election cycle promises major losses for the sitting president's party. It looks even worse this year. Just last week, another Republican House member from a safe seat announced his resignation from office, bringing the total number of retirements and resignations of sitting House Republicans to 48. That is too big to ignore. And sadly, I predict at least four more will occur before this November. Further, Democrats need to pick up just 25 House seats to tip the balance of power in the lower chamber back in their favor. Add to that dynamic the sobering reality that this GOP-led Congress has few policy victories to show for average Americans.

Even in the face of these hard truths, I am not convinced Republicans will lose the House of Representatives. Wave elections where dozens of congressional seats switch, handing power to the other party, certainly occur in environments much like the one we are facing today -- a semi-popular yet polarizing president, frustration with the party in power, etc. But this electoral cycle feels different. For one, Americans are not convinced the country is on the wrong track. Recent polling shows right track/wrong track polling in the high 30s-low 40s, and in other data, those numbers are even higher. Wave elections occur when an overwhelming majority of Americans feel the country is careening toward chaos and approval is in the single digits -- 7-9 percent, not the current percentage of the 30s.

But let's suspend the forecasting for a moment and assume that Democrats indeed resume the majority in the House. What then? What's the agenda that precipitated that change? Who will follow through on those promises made? And who will lead the new party apparatus to enacting those policies. All good questions, and it begins with leadership.

For Democrats to lead an appealing counter-message to the Trump Doctrine, they need an effective leader in the House; someone who is the de facto face of the party, able to refreshingly usher in a new era that Hillary Clinton could not. That individual is not Nancy Pelosi.

Nothing says a return-to-the-old-way of doing things more than the California liberal whose only achievement in the next few years will be reaching octogenarian status. That is not an ageist statement. Rather, it is a statement that the political theology she and her fellow octogenarian Democrats currently espouse is tired, stale and in desperate need of a reset.

In a word, it is old. It is an old agenda at a time when American voters even of the Left's persuasion rejected that approach in the guise of Hillary Clinton. The populace is clamoring for new ideas. Take health care. That issue has not disappeared. In fact, it has revived now and is less about Obamacare and today, more about expanded Medicare for all...single-payer systems where universal coverage is now the battle cry. And as much as that socialist-leaning policy scares me as a conservative, it represents a fresh reset on a core tenet of the Democrat platform that appeals to young people across the country.

The anti-Pelosi sentiment is not lost on her rank-and-file currently in the House. Even Democrats that have benefitted from Pelosi's fund-raising prowess say it is time for change; time for young blood to assume the reins of a new era of the Democrat Party. Just this week, stories emerged that a senior member of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Linda Sanchez, will likely lose her ranking if Democrats take control for her disloyal statements. Yet behind the scenes, dozens of her colleagues quietly agree.

Look, this isn't personal. Pelosi has affirmed her apotheosis in the annals of Democratic lore, no question. But the future of the party hinges on this pivotal time. Republicans are poised to be completely and utterly lost in the wilderness for a full generation if President Trump miscalculates and therefore misplays his current power gambit. Who will fill that vacuum? Can Democrats truly claim to be ready if their present leader still clings to a failed agenda that would only stir FDR? I think not.