• Gracie Davis ‘19

Madame Speaker

“You’ve become the most powerful woman in American history,” Jane Pauley begins a “CBS Sunday Morning” interview.

“That’s funny, isn’t it?” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi replies.

Preceded by Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Republican John Boehner of Ohio, and then herself from 2007 until 2011, Congresswoman Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi of California was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives for the third time on January 3, 2019 as part of the 116th Congress.

Despite pushes for a new generation of leadership from the Never Nancy group, among others, as well as appearances in thousands of attack ads, Democrat Pelosi was nominated to run for House Speaker with a majority 203 yes votes, 3 blank ballots, one absent voter, and only 32 no votes. As one of the most controversial nominees, though, Pelosi’s main goals are “for the people: lowering healthcare costs by reducing the cost of prescription drugs and preserving a preexisting condition benefit, building bigger paychecks,” she comments in the CBS interview.

In previous years as House Speaker, her focuses have surrounded job creation through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, saving taxpayers’ money through the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, and healthcare reform through not only the passing of the Affordable Care Act, but The Patient’s Bill of Rights, which provides affordable health insurance and lowers healthcare costs altogether by a projected $100 billion country-wide in the next ten years. Women have the ability to fight pay discrimination because of Pelosi’s work on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and LGBTQ+ military personnel no longer have to abide by the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, repealed in part by Pelosi. She enacted energy legislation in 2007 in efforts to raise vehicle fuel efficiency standards, and attempted to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act, blocked by Republicans – “a comprehensive bill to create clean energy jobs, combat climate change, and transition America to a clean energy economy.” Pelosi even has her own namesake amendment, which is “a global tool to assess the potential environmental impacts of development.”

44th President of the United States Barack Obama calls her “an extraordinary leader for the American people," as do many SUA students, staff, and teachers. Mr. Porter thinks that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the kind of dynamic “nasty woman” that Hillary Clinton, along with countless feminists, took pride in being. “Any time a woman takes over a role that has not traditionally been a role for women, that is a great thing.” However unlike Hillary Clinton, Pelosi has not been given any intentionally demeaning nicknames by Donald Trump. To Jane Pauley, that means that “either he doesn’t regard you that seriously that you need a gotta-cut-her-down nickname ... or that he has some respect for you.” Pelosi disregards the comment altogether, though: “What matters to me is that [Donald Trump] recognizes that the Congress of the United States is the first branch of government, that we are a coequal branch of government, and that we represent the people, and that when we go to the table to speak with him, we are respectful of the branch that he represents, the office of the president, and we want him to be respectful of the branch of government we represent. Coequal.”

Pelosi was herself the daughter of Congressman Tom D’Alesandro, and, while involved in politics all her life, did not have her own political career until she was 47. Hesitant to run for Congress while her oldest daughter Alexandra was still a senior in high school, Pelosi had to ask if it would be okay, to which she received the loving response, “Get a life, mom.”

From there on, Pelosi has been “the most galvanizing and polarizing figure in politics” according to Pauley. To that, Madame Speaker says this: “You go into the arena and you understand that you will be a target, and that isn’t anything that should keep you out of the arena. I always say to women, just be yourself. [....] If you’re effective, you’re a target. There’s just no question. So they have to undermine - but that doesn’t bother me. That’s their problem.” This message resonates with senior Abbie Weidner, who knows that “there have been women in the past who have deserved the position, but it wasn’t socially acceptable yet.” Now, though, with more representation in the government, “it is becoming part of our culture that women get positions of power.” Seniors Ella Becker and Sophie Bernloehr agree, respectively, that “this is a game changer,” “especially for women in politics.”

As the most powerful woman in America, three times over, Nancy Pelosi is, without a doubt, changing the tide of gender misrepresentation in the government. Whether she is talking about these kind of inequalities, reforming the healthcare system, or creating millions of American jobs, though, Pelosi sees her role “as more of a mission than job tenure. And when the mission is accomplished, then [she] can have that satisfaction that when [she] was needed to get the job done, [she] was there to do it.”


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