Old and busted: Republican worries that Nancy Pelosi would try to use the lame-duck session to shove more of her radical change through Congress before losing her grip on power. New hotness: Democratic worries that Nancy Pelosi will use the lame-duck session to shove the failed radical leadership down the throats of her caucus. After the battle between Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn began getting heated over the two remaining positions after Pelosi’s refusal to step down from the top spot, House Democrats have begun wondering just why their leadership wants to run immediately into a food fight. Two Democrats have begun circulating a letter among colleagues demanding a delay in leadership elections until the caucus has time to absorb just what their historical drubbing really means:
Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D- Ohio) and Peter Defazio (D-Oregon) say in the letter that the “historic results” of the Democrat’s 60-seat loss in the House is one reason to push back leadership selection.
The letter comes as the soon-to-be former House Democratic majority leaders are embroiled in a controversy over who will lead the Democrats when the House changes to Republican hands in January.
Defazio is a known critic of the Democratic leadership and has vocalized his opposition to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- California) remaining in a leadership role. Kaptur has occasionally broken with leadership, but her spokesman told CNN that Kaptur’s request to delay the elections is not about Pelosi, but about giving Democratic members some time to return to Washington and discuss future moves for all leadership slots before any decisions are made.
Perhaps Kaptur wants to make this as impersonal as possible, but the letter itself makes it plain that the huge loss should have Democrats reconsidering their entire leadership and direction:
We cannot ignore the historical results of these elections. At a minimum, we lost 60 seats, with a few races still to call. According to the exit polls, we lost a majority of both male and female voters, reversing the last four years of Democratic gains. Two years ago, President Obama won a majority of the female vote by 13 points. We also lost a majority of voters over 30 years of age, including an 18 point margin for seniors. We lost the independent vote by 16 points, compared to President Obama’s 8 point margin. Finally we lost a majority of voters earning more than $50,000 a year.
Considering these disturbing exit polls, we believe we should not rush to elect a leadership slate next week, but rather spend more time to understand these historic losses. Before we chart a new path forward, we need to understand where we erred to avoid repeating past mistakes.
Note the key phrase “where we erred” and “past mistakes.” That is a direct challenge to the entire current leadership, which now wants to rush through a decision on how to get five people into four chairs. Until now, the Democratic Party line has been that voters were too stupid to appreciate all of the wonderful things Democrats did for them during the past four years, with no acknowledgment whatsoever that they made any errors or mistakes at all except perhaps in failing to talk more about all of the wonderful things Democrats did for those really stupid voters.
Perhaps the rest of the caucus is beginning to realize a few things on their own. First, a rush to settle the current leadership conundrum essentially locks out anyone else from leadership or having a voice in the direction of the new minority. Second, keeping the same people in place who just led the old majority off a cliff doesn’t bode well for their next march in 2012. And third, failing to understand where that leadership went off the rails before putting them back in charge means no accountability and no opportunity for corrections and fresh thinking.
On the other hand, one can see a kind of poetic justice in watching Nancy Pelosi steamroll her own caucus in the same manner she steamrolled ObamaCare over the voters who demanded a stop to it, shoving 3,000-page bills through with just a couple of days for notice and advising us that Pelosi had to pass the bill before we could find out what’s in it. If the Democrats who are just waking up to how that feels really do wonder how they could have lost more seats in the House than any party since 1938, they should understand that this is how the Democrats made the voters feel over the last two years.