If you want to know who won and who lost the 2022 midterms, just consider the following. Nancy Pelosi has decided to coast off into the sunset. She will not run for any leadership position in the new House. In addition, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn also withdrew from House leadership. It looks like Hakeem Jeffries will take over as Minority Leader. There are also reports of Katherine Clark taking over position 2 and Pete Aguilar position 3.
Perhaps you have heard next to nothing about any of the above. That would not be surprising, because none of them have actually accomplished anything. But that does not prevent them from being considered rising stars in the Democratic Party, which may say more about the Democratic Party bench then it does about them.
Up until a couple of days ago, both Hoyer and Clyburn were hesitating regarding keeping their leadership positions. Obviously, the handwriting or perhaps hand wringing was on the wall, and they suddenly realized they are all so yesterday. Nancy Pelosi is not someone I admired, but she was a very skilled and effective leader. Like her or not, she ran the Democratic caucus with an iron fist. Whatever Nancy wanted; Nancy got with few exceptions. Those exceptions often paid a very high price for “feeling” independent.
With Nancy in power, Democrats would worked very hard, behind the scenes, to make Kevin McCarthy’s life difficult. It is far from certain Hakeem Jeffries can come close to achieving that. Nancy was getting a lot of heat from people like the members of the squad. But there were afraid of her, so she still got her way the vast majority of the time. No one is afraid of Hakeem Jeffries.
This reminds me of when I saw Willie Brown, former Speaker of the Assembly in California in action. He was finally termed out of office, but before that he was the master of his own universe. I was there to testify at a hearing. One of the members on the committee asked a question Willie Brown did not like. He called a luncheon break. When we came back, Willie announced that there had been a change in committee assignments, this person had been replaced, and by the way, he now had a new office on a different floor. The only thing shocking about this was that Willie Brown did this so publicly. We can be certain that the Nancy Pelosi’s of this world perfected the art of this type of gamesmanship, but usually behind closed doors.
But that is all gone. She remains in office, technically, until January, but she is one gone girl. I doubt that she will do much of anything during the next six weeks. Why bother. So “not my problem anymore.” I expected leadership changes at the speed of light, but this makes light look like a turtle in comparison. This all literally happened while you were sleeping.
We already know who the major players in the Republican party will be. That will be people like Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Steve Scalise, and Ellie Stefanik, Most of the Republicans who opposed Trump are gone. They have been replaced by younger, smarter, hungrier people. You will soon learn about a lot more of them. They will be competing, finally, on a level playing field with people like AOC and the squad. If you are a Democrat, this should terrify you. Actually, it won’t actually be level. People like AOC are already finding themselves on the bottom looking up, begging for someone, anyone to notice. No one will. Keven McCarthy gets to be Speaker of the House, but he won’t be another weak Paul Ryan clone. Keven was given the ball and told to pay hardball or else. He got the message.
One of the problems with people who have had almost unlimited power is that they seldom leave gracefully with any dignity. None of the top Democrats who just quit, did so because of the greater good. They didn’t do so, regardless of what they say, to turn over the reins to younger people. No, they left for the simple reason they had no place left to go. They faced two years of despair, where nothing they said mattered. They realized they would be treated by Republicans under Kevin McCarthy the same way Democrats treated Republicans under Nancy Pelosi. No attempt to listen. No attempt to compromise. Just vote after vote, with only Republican votes counting while voiceless Democrats watch helplessly from the side lines. The calls for bipartisanship for the greater good have already fallen on deaf eyes. It is about time. Republicans learned the hard way about trying to negotiate with people who have zero interest in compromising on anything.
Well, I woke up this morning and all the gloating, arrogance of the Democratic Party disappeared within hours. At least Nancy Pelosi, James Clyburn and Steny Hoyer are old enough to remember the Kenny Rogers song. “You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run.” It is easy to tell who has the winning hand, and who does not. Look who is running away, as far and as fast as possible. Gone Girl. About time.