AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
No one will ever confuse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a pro-gun Democrat. As Speaker of the House for the second time, it’s unsurprising that she’s making a full-court press on guns despite knowing damn good and well that nothing her chamber passes will survive the Senate.
But after being outmaneuvered by House Republicans on Wednesday, she did something that may yield short-term gains for the Democrats but offer long-term problems.
House Democrats held an emotional debate behind closed doors Thursday over how to stop losing embarrassing procedural battles with Republicans — a clash that exposed the divide between moderates and progressives.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took a hard line at the caucus meeting, saying that being a member of Congress sometimes requires taking tough votes.
“This is not a day at the beach. This is the Congress of the United States,” Pelosi said, according to two sources.
Pelosi also said vulnerable Democrats who had the “courage” to vote against the Republican motions to recommit would become a higher priority for the party leadership and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
This comes after several Democrats sided with Republicans on things like an amendment that would require gun dealers to notify ICE should an illegal immigrant try to purchase a firearm.
Many, if not all, of the Democrats who voted for it, come from Republican-leaning districts who got into office by not being insane, hardline progressives. What Pelosi has done is told them to toe the line or else.
I think Pelosi is overplaying her hand.
The Democrat brand is far from unsullied. A lot of progressives are still furious at what the party did to Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT). They believe he could have beaten Trump and the optics on how the party tripped all over itself to get Hillary Clinton anointed as the party’s nominee still doesn’t sit well with them. Pushing the idea that the party will turn on its own doesn’t signal those days are over.
Further, these congressmen and women come from right-leaning districts. If they trip all over themselves supporting Democratic measures like gun control, it won’t matter how much backing they get from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. No one is going to vote for them.
Pelosi, in her zealous push and surety of her righteousness on an issue like guns, may well be laying the groundwork to hand the House back to the GOP in 2020.
Look, candidates who supported gun control in their campaigns and get elected going on to actually support gun control doesn’t bother me particularly. I mean, it does, but I deal with that because that’s how the game is played.
But when Pelosi is laying down the law like this, she’s telling others to ignore what their constituents want and do what their betters say. For all their talk of how President Trump is somehow undermining the Republic, that’s precisely what Pelosi is doing with these antics. Members of Congress aren’t supposed to be beholden to their party, but their constituents.
The fact that Pelosi is telling them to give their constituents the middle finger for the good of the party is telling, but it could also be costly come next year’s elections.