Editorial: Pelosi is becoming a liability for the Democrats

The Democratic Party is a study in frustration — at Donald Trump, at the public's unwillingness to see problems they consider unmistakable, and to make matters worse, at themselves.

Central to their internal angst is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who shows no inclination to relinquish her power, despite scattered calls from party figures for her to step down.

Pelosi, 77, is expected to remain in her current position of power until after the 2018 midterm elections. The opposition to push her out is not organized. There is certainly no consensus that the party's woes would be healed with an internal conflict at a time its energies are aimed at opposing Trump's policies.

But Pelosi is not serving her party's needs by clutching the reins of power. She is an easy target for Republicans and an obstacle for Democrats who want the party to represent a refashioned voice for the future and for millions of Americans who have tuned it out.

Pelosi represents the California district that includes San Francisco. She was once the voice of progressive liberal thinking in the House, similar to what the late Ann Richards represented as the nationally known governor of Texas in the 1980s.

That voice is represented by Senator Elizabeth Warren today. A Warren-Trump race in 2020 would be a titanic showdown of political opposites, and no one should be sure of the outcome.

Positioning any Democrat to beat Trump will require the party to reclaim at least some of the large geography it has lost, without sacrificing its fundamental principles or unduly alienating its base. That won't be easy; with Pelosi, it will be much more difficult.

To many voters, Pelosi represents the previous generation. She also stands for the constant anti-Republican and anti-Trump rhetoric which, to many citizens, does not provide solutions for their biggest economic concerns.

The party has fallen into a reputation as "bi-coastal," popular in the Northeast Corridor and on the West Coast but ceding too many states and voters in between. Trump won 30 states. The Democrats cannot beat him without getting some of them back, and it's hard to see Pelosi serving as the resonant, relevant voice to that goal.

The party's more immediate goal is to win 24 new Congressional seats and reclaim House majority in the 2018 midterms. If that happens, Pelosi's tenure will be deemed a success.

That's possible. Cries for Pelosi to step down increased after the expensive, much-publicized Democratic Congressional loss in Georgia, but the party came closer than usual in a traditional GOP stronghold.

Results in 2018 will not be measured by coming close, but by victory or defeat. Regaining influence for the Democrats will not occur until they reconfigure their message.

Pelosi represents an old message that many voters find irrelevant and stale. Maybe that's unfair, but her continued presence as House Minority Leader will tell voters that nothing has changed with the Democrats, leaving less reason to think election results will, either.

— The Republican (Mass.), June 29


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