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AOC Wants to Change the World Through Action. Nancy Pelosi Wants to Do It Through Pithy Phrases

I’m bored with the folk tale of Nancy Pelosi in which she drives the aspiring tyrant Donald Trump mad by using ironic turns of phrases such as 'self-impeachment' while providing him more money to mistreat kids

“That public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.” (Photo: Screengrab/C-Span)

“That public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.” (Photo: Screengrab/C-Span)

In her column “It’s Nancy Pelosi’s Parade,” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd argues this week that Nancy Pelosi has “offered a master class, with flair and fire, on how a woman can spar with Trump.” But how true is that assertion?

An ageing president with increasing displays of cognitive decline is presently shepherding in a far-right future for the United States, complete with concentration camps reportedly housing migrant children in conditions no human being should have to endure. As Trump does all of this with the sort of bellicosity expected of an entitled narcissistic bigot with a lifelong chip on his shoulder and penchant for grifting, there is Nancy Pelosi… not even taking a stand with an impeachment inquiry.

But we needn’t go there to counter the narrative Pelosi’s purported mastery of Trump—just look at her recent handling of $4.6 billion package intended to deal with the border crisis that is an invention of the Trump administration’s incompetence and cruelty.

The bill has been criticized for failing to set standards for the humane treatment of migrants held in federal custody. After all, why would anyone trust Trump and co with money designed to benefit migrants not from Norway? When asked about the criticism about the bill — namely that four first-time House Democratic women with national profiles voted against it — Pelsoi elected to be dismissive of Alexander Oscaio-Cortex, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaid. She was dismissive not only of their concerns, but the platforms each of them have built by virtue of speaking truth to power in ways Pelosi appears to have struggled with.

“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi explained to Dowd. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”

Nancy Pelosi had no problem posing with some of these women when it was time for a Rolling Stone cover story that boosted her legacy. Heaven forbid some of them now fail to bend the knee when it comes strategy on how to best handle children locked in cages by a demagogue she’s too afraid to impeach.

This is not the first time Pelosi has taken a shot at AOC or failed Omar, but it’s still disappointing to see her ridicule the nonwhite women in her caucus more than the man they’re all supposed to oppose.

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As for the president, Pelosi says that on the daily, Trump “practically self-impeaches by obstructing justice and ignoring the subpoenas.” Spoiler: self-impeachment is not a thing and Trump has just reached the highest approval rating of his presidency. Pelosi and the Democratic leadership’s shared failure to paint in plainest terms the damage Trump has done to this country to the public — crimes, human rights abuses, corruption, and other malfeasances — is to help normalize them. Merely saying “this is not normal” does nothing if one’s actions don’t lend credence to cries of urgency.

Meanwhile, the women Pelosi snidely mocked for having “their public whatever and their Twitter world” continued to prove that they are fast becoming the moral compass of the Democratic Party.

“You know, people like us, people like me and Ayanna, Ilhan and Alexandria, we’re reflective of our nation in many ways,” Tlaib said in an interview with ABC News’ This Week. “Guess what? We know what it feels like to be dehumanized. We know what it feels like to be brown and black in this country. And I’ll tell you right now, we’re not going to stand by and sit idly by and allow brown and dark-skinned children to be ripped away from their parents to be dehumanized.”

"All of us have these experiences that I think have been missing in the halls of Congress. Honor that, respect that, put us at the table. Let's come up with a solution together," she added.

“That public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.”

Omar co-signed the sentiment on Twitter, noting, some are just “salty about WHO is wielding the power to shift ‘public sentiment’ these days, sis.”

Indeed, for months now we’ve heard about moderate Democrats upset that they’re being overshadowed by nonwhite women commanding disproportionate amounts of national attention.

I’m bored with the folk tale of Nancy Pelosi in which she drives the aspiring tyrant Donald Trump mad by using ironic turns of phrases such as “self-impeachment” while providing him more money to mistreat migrant kids he has ordered to be ripped out of the arms of their parents. I’m tired of acquiescence and appeasement being portrayed as audaciousness. Find cowardice a more fitting costume already.

Granted, Nancy Pelosi used to be that person. As Maureen Dowd notes, “in her first moments on the floor of the House in 1987, as the plague decimating gay men raged, she defied the advice of Democratic elders and sang out that she had come to Washington to fight AIDS.”

That was a long time ago, though. Now she is a Democratic elder denigrating the young women following in her footsteps by daring party leadership to be bolder in its approach and to fight harder and smarter for those in need. Unlike Pelosi, they are not interested in catering to the interests of centrist white folks while migrant kids sit in a cage soiled in urine. If she can’t see why their perspective matters and learn to treat the nonwhite women leading the future of the Democratic Party with greater respect, she should go and find a more appropriate place to be a relic.

Michael Arceneaux

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard University-educated writer currently living in Harlem. He often covers issues related to culture, sexuality, religion, race, and Beyoncé.

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