Just How Progressive Is Nancy Pelosi?

Creating a histogram in Excel is a huge pain in the ass. And when you’re done, you can’t adjust anything. You take what they give you and that’s that. Either that or else I missed some big button labeled “Modify Chart Here.” But today I needed a histogram, so you get what Excel produced for me.

Anyway, on to the subject at hand. I keep hearing a lot about the newly elected progressives in the House Democratic Caucus refusing to commit to Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House—and, you know, I get it. The Democratic leadership is getting pretty long in the tooth: Folks like Clinton, Sanders, Biden, Pelosi, Hoyer and so forth really do need to step aside for a younger generation sometime soon. That’s one of the main reasons I voted for Kevin De León in the California Senate race: sure, he’s Hispanic and he’s more progressive than Dianne Feinstein, but the main thing is that Feinstein will be 91 when she finishes her term, and really, that’s just too old. It’s time.

But that aside, what about Pelosi’s ideology? Maybe this is just because I’m a dinosaur myself, but I sure remember when Pelosi was the very model of a “San Francisco liberal,” a creature feared far and wide among the conservative set. And look at her voting record—which, unfortunately, is best shown on a histogram. Using the DWNOMINATE ranking she scores -0.49, which puts her in the third bucket of liberalness. She’s not most firebrandy liberal in the world, partly due to the demands of her leadership positions, but she’s pretty damn liberal. It’s hard to see how anyone who understands the constraints of effective leadership would consider her “not progressive enough.”

For comparison, the current Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, scores 0.556, which puts him only in the sixth bucket of conservativeness. In other words, Pelosi is a lot more liberal than Ryan is conservative.

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