Smudged Legacy

A legacy is like a chalkboard; you write and write, you smudge and smudge, you dot the i’s and cross the t’s until you’re out of room. You’re left with a couple of options. Either you can leave the message–the lesson–up on the board and grant interpretation to the prerogative of the viewer Or you can erase it and start over.

And there goes your legacy.

Nancy Pelosi is choosing the latter. I wouldn’t agree that she’s been “the most effective Speaker in a generation” as many are claiming. I would assert, however, that she’s been one of the most principled. In a gridlocked Congresses, she’s often avoided compromise and negotiation. She’s taken on the challenges that are important to Democrats, fought for the fundamental missions of liberals, and has answered the toughest questions with a progressive answer.

Perhaps her deeply rooted self-confidence was a factor in the demise of her Democratic majority. Retrospectively, maybe she should have been less “out there” and pushed a less partisan agenda. But she wasn’t and she didn’t, and in her position as Speaker, she didn’t need to be less partisan. She had nothing to lose.

Well, she lost it.

Instead of walking away from the chalkboard and leaving her legacy to the analytical eye of history, she’s picked up the eraser. And assuming that she succeeds in becoming the next Minority Leader, she’ll erase that pristine legacy of principle. She’ll have everything to lose. She’ll have to transform herself from the bleeding-heart liberal she has always been into a centrist-leaning blue dog. That’s not who she is–that’s not what the chalkboard should say.

To maintain her legacy and honorably end a career of righteous conviction, Nancy Pelosi should drop the eraser and choose not to run for Minority Leader. After a career of steadfast loyalty to the left-wing, the next two years would become a smudge on her legacy.

Check Your Balances

“Only in Washington is it a radical idea to read a bill and know how much it costs before we agree to pass it.”

Who said this? Sen. Jim DeMint. Why did he say it? Because, today, his office sent a memo to Republican Senate staff, letting them know that he would be putting a legislative block on all bills on the Senate floor that he did not approve of.

Some say that he’s doing this in an attempt to usurp Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s power–perhaps trying to gain momentum, with the ultimate goal of taking over the role as Minority Leader. He’s already campaigned for several non-establishment Republican congressional candidates around the country which has been seen as a similar move. That’s politics.

But reading a bill and knowing how much it costs is not a radical idea in Washington. It’s a responsible idea. If only that was DeMint’s idea.

Perhaps the rules of the Senate need tweaking. But what Sen. DeMint is forgetting is that we already have a system of deciding what does and doesn’t pass in the Senate. It’s a system that’s worked for us for us for a little over two centuries. It’s called voting. When our representatives in the House and Senate think that a project shouldn’t be funded or that an amendment should be stricken from a bill, they don’t block it from coming to the floor. They simply vote “no.” Checks and balances are an imperative part of our governmental system so that one branch–or one person–can’t get too powerful, and so that the populace is represented based on the opinion of the populace and not the opinion of an old fart from Charleston.

It is unthinkably self-centered and ignorant for one man to think that he should be the author and editor of the entire congressional agenda.