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Why is Pelosi burning social capital with progressives in 2019 she may desperately need in 2020?

3 min read

Nancy Pelosi refuses to let impeachment move forward and is using every tool in her arsenal to hold it back. The two sides are completely talking past each other. The anti-impeachment group is saying that Trump will never be convicted so why bother. The impeachment group is saying that there are other types of justice besides retributive justice that we need to be aware of. There is also distributive justice that involves fairness and maintenance of social relationships. There is a third justice, an ethic of care, that in this case we use laws to protect those we care about from menace — a menace that does not come from any individual but when members of a social group do not fulfill their social/global responsibilities to protect those they (supposedly) care about (see Nuremberg and Arendt’s banality of evil). It does not help that retributive justice tends to be more male oriented while distributed justice and especially an ethic of care tend to be more female oriented (which is why I think we see more females forcefully arguing for proceeding with impeachment).

The anti-impeachment people claim the middle of the roaders will hate impeachment. The impeachment people claim that it is demanded by the base, the people who come out and vote in the rain and wait hours in line. Both sides have their points, but we are way past that. At this point Pelosi’s refusal to consider impeachment and her inability to articulate why she is working so hard against it is frustrating and angering progressives. My sense is that with each passing day they are trusting Pelosi less and less. I do not believe she deserved the high reserves of social capital with progressives but I can see it dissipating day by day. This might not have consequence EXCEPT….

We may be looking at complete chaos at the democratic convention in 2020. What happens if Biden has a plurality of delegates but Warren and Sanders together have more delegates than Biden. There will be no winner in the first vote where delegates are bound to their candidate and super delegates must stay on the sidelines. Enormous damage can be done before the second vote. Delegates are still pledged to their candidates but super-delegates can enter the fray.  The mainstream media will be screaming that the dissension is hurting the party and they must come together around a candidate NOW!  Progressives will be screaming to wait for the third vote when Warren or Sanders can release their delegates.  Let’s face it, Biden is by nature and generation a backroom politician and his people will be working hard to convince super-delegates to come over. Nobody will trust anybody. It could be in those moments between the first and second vote when we may lose the election (and our entire society). We need somebody who is trusted by both sides to maintain a semblance of peace and goodwill. Who is that going to be? Who has that type of power and respect to hold things together, to keep them from spinning out of control. It won’t be Obama. I think he is too smart to enter on the side of Biden and too loyal to speak against him. For better or worse until we have a nominee Pelosi is the party leader. If she has burned through her credibility with progressives she will be useless (she had already put a finger on the scale by saying the candidate shouldn’t be too progressive). 

Pelosi should move towards impeachment now no matter what she herself thinks (and give up the myth of being a political genius) in order to maintain credibility with the progressives for when she really needs it.

Of course is Warren sweeps Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada this is all kind of moot.

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