My political preferences probably aren’t the polar opposite of those of Speaker Pelosi, but we agree politically on very few things. I’m a classical liberal, Pelosi is a social democrat (and I think describing her that way is being kind).
However, I come not to bury Pelosi but to praise her. She will certainly have plenty of pundits inside and outside of her party blaming her for losing the Congress and also for what will likely be historic losses in the House. But it is time to give her some “props” for something big: the willingness to use and risk (and ultimately lose) the power she accumulated to make significant policy changes that met (to a certain extent) her vision of the good.
Power should not be an end in itself (even though it is for many actors) and thus politicians should strive to enact good public policy even at the risk of losing that power. Of course, the prudent statesman/woman has to carefully weigh whether any particular change that could risk power loss is going to be meaningful and lasting enough to justify the possible sacrifice (such as losing the future ability to do political good/prevent political harm). Nonetheless, sometimes it is worth going for it even at great personal risk – and this is what Pelosi and company did when they passed health care reform and pushed a fairly aggressive policy agenda once the Democrats handily controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency.
Of course, I vehemently disagree with the substance of the policies that Pelosi and the Democrats have pursued. Even more problematically, I believe that many of these policies (especially the individual mandate that is part of Obamacare) violate the Constitution that is supposed to restrict what our politicians can do. And it is possible that the sacrifice will have been in vain if Obamacare falls apart in part or in whole following these elections and a possible Supreme Court decision.
However, I can only hope that leaders with my policy preferences will someday decide to risk their power to enact potentially lasting and game-changing legislation. Nancy Pelosi, Rest in Political Peace.