At its most recent monthly meeting, San Francisco’s Democratic County Central Committee adopted a resolution on Venezuela diametrically opposed to the stance taken by the city’s top Democrat, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who represents the lion’s share of the city’s voters. The resolution opposed “any military intervention in Venezuela; all covert interference in that nation’s affairs; the use of economic sanctions and assets seizures designed to further immiserate its people; and all further measures designed to impose so-called ‘regime change’ from Washington.”
Pelosi, on the other hand, in a statement remarkable for its similarity to one issued by Donald Trump, explicitly endorsed the President’s call for regime change, announcing that she supported “the decision of the National Assembly, Venezuela's sole remaining democratic institution, to recognize Juan Guaidó, President of the National Assembly, as the Interim President.” The second part of the Democratic Committee’s resolution, calling upon the city’s “elected representatives in Congress to vigorously oppose such policies,” would appear, then, to fall on deaf ears in this instance.
While far from the first time that the Committee—the Democratic Party’s official voice in San Francisco—has been at odds with Pelosi in this realm, the gap yawned particularly broadly this time, as the resolution passed 17-0, with eight abstentions. And only two of those eight came from members actually voted onto the committee, the other six being the proxies of elected officials, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, who serve ex officio. No proxies for Pelosi or the city’s other Representative, Jackie Speier, were in attendance.
A rise in the awareness of the disastrous nature of our foreign policy seems inevitable.
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The fact that discussion of an upcoming dinner honoring Pelosi was also on the group’s agenda that evening lent a certain irony to the proceedings—as well as highlighting the intertwined strands of unity and conflict extending throughout the Democratic Party. On the one hand, Pelosi has garnered national, even global attention as a leader of “the resistance” to Donald Trump. On the other hand, her failure to sponsor single payer, Medicare-for-all legislation, her less than enthusiastic response to the Green New Deal, and her retrograde, interventionist foreign policy ideas put her sharply at odds with the bulk of those at the core of that “resistance.”
Traditionally, our foreign military adventures have not been a matter of great domestic concern, at least when there are few American casualties involved—but that could be changing. When Common Defense, a group of anti-Trump military veterans, launched its “End the Forever War” campaign, they immediately secured the support of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. With the two left-most Democratic presidential candidates now pledged to “fight to reclaim Congress’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight of U.S. foreign policy and independently debate whether to authorize each new use of military force, and act to bring the Forever War to a responsible and expedient conclusion,” a rise in the awareness of the disastrous nature of our foreign policy seems inevitable.
And meanwhile, back in San Francisco, it seems clear than when Nancy Pelosi speaks of the “San Francisco values” that she represents, this does not extend to foreign policy.