Why Do People Dislike Nancy Pelosi
In December 2019, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was re-elected to her position as speaker for a record 13th time, there were plenty of people who didn’t like what they saw. She had just become the first female speaker in U.S. history and the most powerful Democrat in Washington DC, yet more than half of Democrats said they would rather see someone else take over. And it wasn’t because they disagreed with her party leadership on issues. It was because many of them thought that her leadership style was annoying or abrasive.
Pelosi has been called “the consummate legislator,” but there are reasons why others don’t think so. In fact, some have argued that Pelosi isn’t really all that great at being a legislator; she may be able to get things done, but maybe not quite as well as some other politicians could.
As the head of the largest political party in the United States, she also wields tremendous power — both within her caucus and beyond it. On top of that, she’s known for having a reputation of often being difficult to work with. But do these two things make her unpopular? Not necessarily.
“It’s almost certainly true that [she] gets results, but I’m skeptical about whether that makes up for the annoyance factor,” says Aaron Scherb, a professor of politics at Villanova University. He points out that while some might dislike how she does business, there are plenty of examples of legislators who aren’t beloved by their colleagues but still manage to get good legislation through Congress.
So what exactly can you say about this woman that makes people want to avoid her like the plague? Here are 10 potential answers.
1. She’s overly aggressive
One thing that stands out about Pelosi is that she doesn’t hold back from speaking her mind. When she wants something passed into law, she’ll demand it. This approach can alienate members of her own caucus, but it’s often seen as effective in getting bills across the finish line.
When she became speaker, critics accused her of becoming too much of a bully. One example came during the 2018 midterms where a group of progressive freshmen lawmakers walked off the floor of the House after Pelosi refused to allow a vote on Medicare for All. Another instance happened earlier this year when Pelosi pushed forward with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump even though some of her members opposed her decision.
2. She won’t apologize
Even if Pelosi did engage in bullying behavior, that doesn’t mean she should apologize for it. As far as apologizing goes, Scherb says that there’s no evidence that doing so helps anyone. The best way to deal with criticism is to address it directly instead of trying to sweep it under the rug (or fake it until you make it).
While it’s possible that Pelosi knows she’s wrong, apologizes for her actions, and then changes them later, Scherb thinks that’s unlikely. If she knew she was wrong, he argues, she’d know how to change her tactics without needing to actually apologize.
3. She’s arrogant and dismissive
The biggest complaint people seem to have about Pelosi is that she seems arrogant and dismissive towards those who disagree with her. For example, in June 2020, CNN published an article titled, “Pelosi dismisses concerns about impeachment inquiry.” In the piece, author David Sanger wrote that Pelosi appeared to brush aside his questions regarding the process of impeaching a president, saying, “I’m very confident that we will prevail and that the facts will speak for themselves.”
According to Scherbs, Pelosi’s arrogance comes from believing that she’s always right. Even if she’s proven otherwise, she’s going to continue talking down to those who oppose her.
4. She’s condescending
A common argument used against Pelosi is that she’s condescending towards those she serves. That’s especially true when she discusses the need to bring more women of color into positions of power, often using words and phrases that suggest that white men are the only ones qualified enough to run the country. Her defenders argue that she’s simply giving young women advice on how to succeed in male dominated spaces, and that’s really offensive!
YouTuber Jimmy Smits recently posted a video attacking Pelosi for her comments. In the video, he calls her a hypocrite since she herself is a mother and grandmother. He accuses her of creating a hostile workplace for working mothers and claims that she’s never once mentioned misogyny or sexism in her career.
But, according to Scherb, these criticisms miss the point. While it’s important to listen to women and people of color who face unique challenges, it’s equally necessary to give everyone the same respect and opportunity.
5. She’s divisive
If you’re looking for a politician to unite the nation, look no further than Nancy Pelosi. Although she’s been criticized for dividing Americans along partisan lines, she’s also helped bridge gaps between different groups. According to a poll conducted by Harvard/Harris Poll in September 2020, 66 percent of respondents viewed her favorably, including majorities of Republicans, independents, and Democrats.
However, it’s hard to ignore that Pelosi hasn’t done anything to help end the divisiveness around race, gender, and religion. Instead, she’s made it worse. Just last month, she infamously told Rep. Marcia Fudge, a black member of Congress, to sit down before addressing the Congressional Black Caucus.
6. She’s obsessed with money
Some people hate Pelosi because of her role in passing H.R. 1, better known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. They believe that she put corporate interests ahead of the American public, and that she’s responsible for the tax bill that disproportionately hurts lower income families.
Others criticize her for taking large amounts of stock in companies such as Aetna and Blue Cross. Again, she has defended herself against accusations of greed, arguing that she needed to pay taxes and that it’s unfair for her to be criticized for wanting to keep her investments private.
7. She’s a control freak
Those who despise Pelosi cite her strict rules as another reason she’s disliked. For example, she reportedly keeps track of everything that happens in the House chamber and is known to yell at staff members who misbehave. However, these accounts vary depending on who’s spreading the rumor.
For example, one staffer claimed that Pelosi yelled at him for eating candy in the office. Other sources claim that Pelosi’s yelling is more related to making sure staffers follow her orders. As far as keeping tabs on the chamber, it’s likely that she’s just concerned about security. After all, she’s the highest ranking Democrat in government.
8. She’s just plain old stubborn
People don’t like Pelosi because she’s obstinate. She’s willing to fight to defend her beliefs, and sometimes refuses to compromise. During the coronavirus pandemic, she famously declared that the House wouldn’t pass any relief package unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to negotiate on health care reform.
This refusal to budge ended up costing her dearly in the polls. According to a July 2020 NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, 70 percent of voters opposed her handling of the crisis.
9. She uses Twitter poorly
Pelosi’s use of social media has been a source of controversy. First, there was her tweet supporting former Vice President Joe Biden in November 2020. Then, in February 2021, she responded to a New York Times opinion columnist in a now deleted tweet, calling her a liar and accusing her of racism. Finally, in March, she tweeted “Fraud” at journalist John Podhoretz.
In response to her tweets, conservatives claimed that she was destroying democracy and labeled her a dictator. Some liberals complained that she was violating free speech.
Despite these controversies, Pelosi continues to use Twitter, posting photos of meals she cooks and sharing links to stories she finds interesting. So, it’s worth noting that her bad tweets don’t reflect on what she’s capable of accomplishing as speaker.
10. She’s too friendly with the press
Last but not least, Pelosi is hated because she’s too nice to the press. Whenever she speaks to reporters, she’s usually quick to correct mistakes and praise journalists. Critics find this tactic disingenuous and manipulative.
Of course, it’s impossible for anyone to please every single person. No matter how you feel about Pelosi, she’s accomplished a lot for herself. She’s served in congress for 36 years, spent 13 terms as speaker, and led the Democrats to historic wins in 2006 and 2010. Despite her faults, she’s clearly earned her spot among the pantheon of leaders who’ve shaped America.
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