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    Now Is Not the Time for a Speaker of the House in Training

    By Andrea Shorter–

    The clouds have parted, the rains have come and the air has been cleansed, both literally and figuratively. Literally, after nearly two weeks of unhealthy smoke blanketed Bay Area skies from the nearby historic Butte County fires. Rains during the week of Thanksgiving thankfully helped to cleanse the air to safer breathability.

    Figuratively, three weeks after the midterm elections, we can also breathe a little easier after the Democratic Blue Wave that took back the House of Representatives. Then again, this welcome development is poised to have as literal of an impact as bluer, cleaner and less choky air.

    Unless, of course, a handful of the newly forming House majority manages to royally wreck and muck up this moment, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. In what should be clear blue skies from here to D.C., there remains a smoky haze hovering about the atmosphere. Quite plainly, the little band of newly minted and re-minted Representatives vowing not to vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House needs to sit down somewhere.

    Do we need a Move On-inspired campaign ( ) to address this situation?

    Yes, maybe for those that ran as lonesome blue dots in predominantly red states who felt the need to denounce or distance themselves from the former Speaker—the right’s manufactured villain and boogie woman—pledging not to support or be defined by Pelosi’s “extreme left” leadership.

    Okay, but hold up, partner. Unless you are or have someone seriously ready to step up or have an equally ready, willing and able contender to take up the full scope of responsibilities of this high post, then let us please move on.

    Like many Democrats, I too am very pleased and proud that we have voted in the most diverse class of representatives to the Congress. We’ve proudly and urgently voted in the most women, more LGBT people, people of color, veterans, immigrants and many other Americans ever to reflect the real and changing demographics and needs of our nation.

    And, yes, I also agree that there should be more leadership opportunities for additional Representatives to effect needed policy and social change, as well as to hone leadership capacities and skills to effectively lead the party’s direction. I’m totally down for all of that. But read the room. Now is not the time for a Speaker in training.

    As an African American lesbian who hails from the Midwest, I admit that I was glad to see Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio considering throwing her hat into the ring for the Speakership. I’ve appreciated her stalwart and diligent advocacy and leadership from the African American Caucus for elections reform. The fight against voter suppression demands serious chops, and Fudge brings those chops to the fight.

    While I was glad to see her at least being considered for the Speaker’s post, I, however reckon that the true angle of Fudge’s and several of the other vote blockers is to leverage and hold out for desired committee and leadership assignments. It perhaps took some gumption for Fudge to stand out as the lone contender. It didn’t, however, take much for Pelosi to remove her as a contender by her plan to appoint her as the Chair of the soon to be revived House Administration subcommittee on elections.

    As other such deals are made to elevate new leadership within the congressional and party ranks to arrive at the Democratic majority votes needed to secure Pelosi’s much-needed ascension to Speaker—and as importantly, if need be, second in line of succession to the Presidency after the Vice President—it protects the long game of standing up against, keeping in check and possibly removing a President leading us daily into despair, division and danger.

    Pelosi’s re-capture of the Speaker’s gavel should not, and cannot, be done with a single vote of the now Republican minority. This would not be an act of bi-partisanship. That would be an act of conceding precious power to this disaster of a President and a feckless GOP. An unnecessary assist from across the aisle to put Pelosi over the top would be “Exhibit A” of Democrats snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    So, tough it out and move on, Dems. This is our time. This is Speaker Pelosi’s time—again.

    Andrea Shorter is a Commissioner and the former President of the historic San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. She is a longtime advocate for criminal and juvenile justice reform, voter rights, and marriage equality. A Co-founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, she was a 2009 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.