Granted, the first job is to win control of the House. Granted, chickens should not be counted before they’re hatched. But despite both those points, it is also true that thinking and planning ahead is an important part of good strategy.
So in that spirit, here’s a strategic idea that I propose should guide the action of Democrats if the Blue Wave does indeed come to pass.
I like Nancy Pelosi. I am persuaded that as a parliamentarian, she has shown herself exceptionally good at managing her Democratic Caucus in the House. Other than her having the defect common to Democrats in our time — the defect of not having matched the intensity and determination to win that the right-wing continually brings to the battle — I do not find fault with her.
Nonetheless, if the Democrats take control of the House after the upcoming mid-term elections, I believe it is important that Pelosi steps down and hands the leadership of the Democrats — and thus the gavel of Speaker of the House — over to someone else.
Never in American history has it been more urgent for Congress to act to check a President, because this President has shown himself to be a continuing danger to the nation.
A Democratic takeover of the House will mean that Congress at last at last will begin to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities to protect the United States from such a President.
It is of profound importance — for the healing and future peace of the United States — that as many Americans as possible will lend credence to the Democrats efforts in the House (up to and including the beginnings of impeachment hearings in the House Judiciary Committee) to hold Trump accountable.
Which means that not one bit of the American electorate should be needlessly forfeited. And means that every effort should be made to have the public face of the House Democrats — including the Speaker — as appealing and credible as possible.
President Trump has already provided abundant evidence that — to protect himself — he will demonize those who act against him. He will seek to discredit the new powers in the House just as he has gone after the major figures in the FBI and in the Justice Department who have been working to uphold the rule of law — through the Mueller investigation — against this lawless American president.
Nancy Pelosi has been the target of right-wing demonization for years, beginning well before the Trump era.
We have already seen — with Hillary Clinton, and the burden she carried into the 2016 election — how the accumulation of right-wing slanders and smears can leave a residue in the public mind that can cripple a Democratic leader and give more power to the liars.
That’s why giving Trump (and the Republicans) Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, and thus as a target for his inevitable counter-attacks of smear and slander and insult, would strengthen Trump’s hand in the battle for public opinion.
Too many people have already been trained (in virtually a Pavlovian sense, as propaganda can by-pass rational thought) to respond with loathing to the name “Pelosi.”
Nancy Pelosi is both appealing and credible. But we know that Republican propaganda has assured that too many Americans will never see that.
So two things are needed:
1) The Democrats should put a fresh face — i.e. one not yet demonized — at the head of the Party in the House. (I do not at this point have any particular person to recommend.)
2) The Democrats should be fully mobilized to combat the inevitable efforts from Trump and his enablers (among the GOP in Congress and/or the likes of Fox News) to demonize this new leadership. The demonization should be brought into the spotlight, made into an issue.
In terms of combatting the demonization campaign, my thoughts are: 1) enlist Elizabeth Warren, either to go toe-to-toe with Trump, or to advise those who do (as she bested Trump in their Twitter battles back before the election); 2) let nothing pass unaddressed, at least in terms of 3) calling attention to the long-standing right-wing tactic of slandering every prominent Democrat with lies.
Political war is coming. Democrats need to wage it as such.