Congress’ double-standards



Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California (left) and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York (right) hold a press conference advocating for net neutrality in May 2018. (AP Photo)

Brock Doemel, Columns editor

Pundits on the political left, right, and center just can’t stop bashing Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi (D-California), the former and incoming Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is the highest-ranking female in the history of our nation’s government. She ensured the passage of key bipartisan measures during her first two terms as speaker (2007-2011) that were signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Free college tuition for veterans, a federal minimum wage increase, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill, an economic recovery package that lifted the economy out of the recession, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the Affordable Care Act were all measures passed under her leadership.

Despite a proven record of bipartisan legislative success, there’s no one Republican lawmakers enjoy hating more than her (except for Hillary Clinton).

In addition, even after her party retook control of the House in the midterm elections last month, she had to fend off attacks from both moderates and progressives in her party who claimed that Pelosi is ‘a corporate shill,’ ‘too old,’ ‘too unlikeable,’ and much more. This came even after a slate of Democratic House candidates, with Pelosi as their national figurehead, picked up 40 seats.

Meanwhile, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) oversaw the net loss of two Democratically-held seats in the U.S. Senate. Schumer’s nationwide approval ratings are similar to Pelosi’s. Schumer is only ten years younger than her, and is certainly no more progressive than she is on the issues. Where are all of the left-wing critics calling for Schumer to step down as Senate leader? Schumer, not Pelosi, was the one who lost an election after all.

Pelosi’s high-profile critics— even those on the left who claim to support gender equality— are subconsciously biased against the idea of a strong woman occupying a position two heartbeats (or indictments) away from the presidency. If they weren’t, the milquetoast Schumer would be the one facing leadership challenges, not the dynamic, battle-tested leader in Pelosi.

This bias isn’t a personal problem for these critics; American culture holds its archetypes of leaders in high value. For example, think of what a successful CEO looks like. Picture them in your head. More than likely, the picture in your head is of a white man in a suit.

The same principle applies to our culture’s archetypes of politicians. Bias against Pelosi and other female leaders is a cultural issue that each individual needs to address with themselves and work on improving, regardless of their politics.