Usually after a flood, a good housecleaning is in order. One might assume that after a flood of Biblical proportions, such as the one that swept over the Democratic Party last week, cleaning house would be the first order of business. But politicians, being politicians, seem to be much more focused on clinging to their bits of power than they are on creating substantive changes that might help protect the party (and the nation) from a future drubbing.
The Democratic Minority membership of the United States House of Representatives is a case in point. Democrats are currently scheduled to meet on Thursday morning to select (or more likely, confirm) their leadership. There is, however, some growing unrest in the party, and some have been putting forth the notion that the leadership elections should wait until after Thanksgiving so that members will have time to adequately review the situation and visit among themselves on the best ways for the party to go forward. The Black Caucus and others argue that there is no need to rush.
Today Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has agreed to let the Democratic Caucus in the House vote on whether to postpone leadership elections or not. (If one were predisposed to being cynical, one might reckon that Pelosi has the votes to keep the election on schedule, or she would not be promoting a plebicite on the issue.)
The current House Minority leadership appears to be the picture of diversity. The group of four includes a woman (Pelosi as Minority Leader), a standard issue white guy (Minority Whip Steny Hoyer), a black (Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn), and an Hispanic (Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra). Sadly, though, the group is not nearly as diverse as its yearbook photo would indicate.
None of the four, for instance, comes from a state that played a pivotal role in the Presidential election. Pelosi and Becerra are from California, with Pelosi doubling down on the Left Coast effect by being from the San Francisco area. Hoyer is from the Washington, DC, suburbs of Maryland, and Jim Clyburn, out of South Carolina, is the only member of leadership from the Old South. The group has no representation from the Midwest, the Rust Belt, or the decisive Battleground states.
The other area in which the Democratic leadership does not resemble all of America is in age. Three members of the incoming group are older than our next President - and he is old. Pelosi and Clyburn are both seventy-six, and Hoyer is seventy-seven. All should be retired and home raising peacocks - not trying to create and ramrod legislative priorities through Congress. Becerra, the baby of the group, is fifty-eight.
Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House, is likely going to be challenged for her leadership position, regardless of when the election is actually held. Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio has indicated an interest in running against her. Ryan, at age forty-three, is younger than all five of Pelosi's children. And while toppling the entrenched Minority Leader would be a long shot, just the act of mounting a challenge to her barnacle-like hold on power is healthy and reflects the spirit of democracy on which the Democratic Party is based.
We've suffered a flood, and the mud is up to our knees. This would be an excellent time to start pitching and cleaning. Change is often good - and often necessary.
Bring on those shovels and mops!