Social media was flooded on Friday night/Saturday morning with posts from Southeastern Montana Federal employees who get to go back to work on Monday. With approximately 78% of Federal workers living paycheck to paycheck, even those who weren’t terribly inconvenienced by the shutdown expressed that even though they “got through fine” they recognized that the majority of their coworkers faced struggle and hardship during the government’s longest shutdown.
Americans inconvenienced by this farce have two things to thank: Labor and worker’s unions who organized, rallied, and applied pressure AND Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Today, PlainsFeminist is going to focus on the latter.
Nancy’s firm handling of the shutdown, eloquent written statements, pointed press conferences and statements, Tweetable soundbites, and a resolute refusal to back down one millimeter with the entirety of this administration and the GOP caucus breathing down her neck proved without a doubt that she deserves the Gavel in this time and place.
Those who were eager to dismiss her candidacy as Speaker before the 116th Congress gaveled in, were quickly reminded why Nancy Pelosi was the first female Speaker of the House (holding the gavel from 2007-2011) and the highest ranking woman in Congress and in the Presidential line of succession (2nd behind the Vice President; a position she’s now held twice). Her deft political hand has been on full display since January 3rd… and if her judgement and decisions during this shutdown are anything to go by, we haven’t seen anything yet.
Over the next three weeks as the immigration and border security debate heats up (hopefully avoiding another costly shutdown), I predict Nancy’s experience with immigration issues and the interests of her state (California; the 5th largest economy in the world) will prove far more compelling than the GOP soundbites and their poorly vetted talking points. In 2017 Nancy captured the record for the longest floor speech while defending Dreamers (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in 4 inch heels. Her speech was one of substance (no reading of Green Eggs and Ham when there’s important policy to discuss) and powerful stories of the enrichment Dreamers provide to the American fabric.
Her impressive 8 hour speech made a compelling argument for the inclusion of Dreamers/DACA in comprehensive immigration reform. Nancy’s experience with California’s agricultural economy (the largest Ag producer in America) and the seasonal migrant labor that has enriched that economy for years matters to California AND Montana. Strong Ag pricing, timely harvest, and the technological transformation in the field (pun intended) are all things that are crucial to us both. Montana is not an economic island and seasonal migrant labor is still a part of our agricultural landscape (Ok, no more puns). Immigrants have benefited Montana and California alike — and the conversation about legal immigrant reform and pathways to citizenship is lead by Nancy Pelosi. No room for wasted money on ineffective, outdated slogans when dealing with the complex problem of Border Security.
Anyone who turned on their television, browsed the Internet, checked email, or their physical mailbox during the midterm campaign was treated to the boogeyman of Nancy Pelosi; the downfall of Montana and “our way of life”. Jon Tester was accused by the GOP hit machine of doing Pelosi’s bidding (even though he hails from the Senate and she is in the House; but I guess the facts didn’t really matter to the targets of these ads). Flyers spilled out of everyone’s mail box: “[Sen.] Jon Tester talks like he’s from Montana, but he votes like he’s Nancy Pelosi.” A lot of rural Montanans sure got worked up by Nancy in the House; the fear permeated the air like the smell of a good bull sale on a warm spring day. Pelosi – the scary California woman who stands up for young Dreamers and who’s shattered glass ceilings since she was first elected to political office in 1977.
Immediately after the midterms, it was easy to dismiss that fear as just a campaign tactic. But in retrospect, I think many of us underestimated her. The fear spouted during the campaign was cheap tricks; when what they should have been afraid of was a woman who knows her job well, earned her position through years of hard work, and is running circles around an administration that just “caved” on a signature campaign slogan. Nancy’s strong advocacy for democratic ideals, support for Dreamers, her decades of experience and poise in a man’s world, her heels, and her strength have been on display for three weeks; and it’s exactly what we need to see. Pelosi is hosting a clinic on political strategy and the rules and powers of her position; let’s get to studying. #GetItGurl
P.S. The Pelosi fear is STILL on display in Miles City. A friend let me know that this sign is still hanging on a fence close to downtown MC. I’m sure the author of this particular piece finds him/herself quite funny. But reality, it appears, has THE BETTER sense of humor. Sign maker: please tune in to C-SPAN for details.
[This author is curious about the regulations regarding un-affiliated signs still on display months after the election. Fines? Citations?]