Despite a slim majority and vocal in-party opponents, Representative Nancy Pelosi managed to maintain her role as Speaker, something Rep. McCarthy can no longer claim. People gave their opinions on what created the stark difference and how it magnifies the disparities between Republicans and Democrats in general.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
The Duck Wrangler
From 2021 to 2023, Nancy Pelosi managed to “keep her ducks in a row,” as one commenter put it, despite a slim majority in the house similar to what Republicans have today.
Like McCarthy, Pelosi also dealt with a significant in-party divide. As one commenter noted, “2006, 2008, and 2010 wiped out a lot of congressional centrists in both parties. The parties are more divided than they have been.” Yet, McCarthy lost his position, and Pelosi did not.
As one person pointed out, the rules for McCarthy weren’t the same as those for Pelosi. “The assigned Speaker rules under Pelosi’s leadership were not set so that any one representative could call a vote to remove the Speaker. That was a concession set by McCarthy and the first (and hopefully only) of its kind.”
Still, many thought Pelosi would have managed to maintain her position under the current rule book. “Nancy Pelosi is one of the most effective legislative leaders ever,” one commenter said. “She grew up counting votes for her father, the Mayor of Baltimore, and then built a political machine in San Francisco. She’s EXTREMELY good at what she does.”
Working Behind the Scenes
Many also cited examples of how Pelosi’s leadership style was more effective than McCarthy’s. “Pelosi is more of a behind-the-scenes worker,” said one person. “There was talk of electing a new speaker in 2018. By the time the vote came, she’d met with each member of ‘the squad’ and made them feel heard. There was no second vote.”
Other commenters were less sure that it had to do with Pelosi or McCarthy as leaders. They thought other factors were at play. As one user said, “I would guess the reason is that Democrats have more ability to punish fringe members (the progressives) than the GOP does.”
One person pointed out that progressives don’t pull in as much fundraising dollars as those on the far right. So, while Democrats can push the squad to vote with them, establishment Republicans have a harder time controlling the Freedom Caucus.
Many commenters believed the difference in Pelosi vs. McCarthy’s terms came down to a distinction between Republicans and Democrats overall.
Want To Govern
“The ‘squad’ of AOC and her aligned group still want to govern and are ultimately team players,” one user said. “They may lodge a protest statement, even a protest vote, but they’re not going to sabotage the rest of the party just out of spite.”
Chaos and Destruction
A few commenters mentioned that more extreme members of the GOP, like Rep. Gaetz, had a very different idea on how to get their way. “The far right in the GOP will do anything to humiliate or obstruct the more moderate wings of their party,” one person said. “Even if it means bringing the whole party down.”
The Art of Compromise
“The mainstream Dems will throw the progressives a bone, too. They actually compromise on stuff,” one user noted. Many echoed the same idea and pointed out that establishment Republicans seem less willing to compromise with representatives like Gaetz and Greene.
A Party That Stands Together
Others thought that Democrats were simply more serious about their jobs. “There is only one serious party in the US, that’s the Democrats. That’s the only party that actually cares about winning,” one user said.
A few mentioned that establishment Republicans like McCarthy have hurt their credibility, which gave more power to the far-right element. “The Republican Establishment was discredited by the economic policy, corruption scandals, and the Iraq War,” one user noted. “The Democratic Establishment hasn’t lied to Democrats over key issues and thus has credibility.”
A Matter of Perspective
Many users thought the difference between the speakers’ respective terms came down to perspective. “In general, Democrats see the federal government as the means to solve problems, while many Republicans see the federal government as the problem that needs to be solved,” one user noted, which inherently gave Pelosi more control of her party.
Others thought the Democrat’s tendency to stick together despite disagreements had less to do with philosophy and more to do with fear. “We are all terrified of the other side,” one noted, referencing many Democrats’ concerns surrounding Trump and far-right Republicans.
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