My Congressperson: Nancy Pelosi

23:32 Sat 14 Apr 2007. Updated: 00:36 01 May 2007
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The congressperson for my district is Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House. Despite my rather strong interest in politics, prior to her rising to that position I barely knew her name—and she’s represented the 8th District since 1987, well before I lived here. Even now, I don’t know much about her.

She is, of course, the first woman to hold the position of Speaker.

Her bio portrays her as leader for health care, women’s rights, the rights of people with HIV/AIDS, military intelligence, environmentalism, human rights, and anti-terrorism measures.

That’s quite a mix, and seems suspiciously like something that almost any Democrat’s PR team would write. A look at her Wikipedia entry reveals that she is often regarded as more conservative than her constituents, which sounds about right.

She’s demonized by the right as a “San Francisco liberal”, but that has little informational content. She’s certainly no left-wing leader like the late Paul Wellstone, for example.

One major area of concern is that her fund-raising committee was fined for exceeding their federal limits on accepted donations—given that no serious challenge to her seat has been seen for many decades, it’s not as if she needs the money for tough races. And, sadly, her list of 2006 contributors is 2-1 composed of business interests. At least labor unions aren’t completely eclipsed. But I find it demoralizing that her top contributor is Occidental Petroleum—although this doesn’t mean anything other than they’re giving her money.

I also find it demoralizing that her personal net worth is so high.

On the positive side, she opposed the 2002 resolution authorizing military force against Iraq. She seems to have a reasonable record on the environment and alternative energy.

Overall, the reading I get from her is that she’s a liberal-leaning Establishment Democrat: privileged and wealthy, with some social conscience. She’s also someone who knows how to get things done in D.C. But no critique of American imperial power, or America’s deep-seated problems with inequality, are going to come from her.

Incidentally, all three of my federal representatives, Pelosi and Senators Boxer and Feinstein, are women, which is pretty cool, and is sadly probably a very rare thing. I’ll cover Feinstein and Boxer in separate posts.

Would I vote for Pelosi in an election? Probably not, because I want to push her to the left(*), and so would support a candidate to her left as that’s more or less my only way to send such a message.

* Not that conventional “left” and “right” are great for describing my politics, but that’s another story.

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