I’ve written before about the incredible potential the 2012 US elections showed – namely that a huge (and growing) coalition of various social groups working in solidarity with each other can and will win elections. Earlier today, Representative Nancy Pelosi announced that she would attempt to represent that coalition in the House of Representatives. She held a press conference surrounded by newly elected women, many of whom I’ve already gushed about – like Representatives Tulsi Gabbard, Kyrsten Sinema, and Tammy Duckworth.
(Nancy Pelosi, speaking earlier today. Originally from here.)
Like those three, many of them were more than some of the first women ever elected to the national stage by their districts or states. But many were also the first of another marginalized social group, whether a religious minority, LGBT* person, or disabled person. In running to be the representative of this mixture of identities unified by a need for society to finally acknowledge them and address issues significant to them, Pelosi was taking a stand about what kind of a political force the Democratic Party could be, should be, and if she has her way, would be.
And then Luke Russert asked the question that’s still setting the blogosphere ablaze:
“Mrs. Pelosi, some of your colleagues privately say that your decision to stay on prohibits the party from having younger leadership. It hurts the party in the long term. What’s your response?”
Yes, he actually said that. We can of course break down the sexism embedded in that – that he avoided calling Pelosi by her earned title, that he presented his opinion as factual (“It hurts the party” not “allegedly hurting the party”), and that there’s a clear political message sent in highlighting the age of a female politician (which is clearly lost on Russert).
But what’s more, it treats the diverse coalition that Pelosi has spent years building as a stage prop. It’s not of importance, unlike the ostensible House Minority Leader’s age. The ally that Pelosi is for people of color, to LGBT* communities, to disparate religious groups, and to disabled people is frankly irreplaceable for the time being, but apparently that fact is like so many irrelevant to Luke Russert. In fact, the only portion of the coalition that Russert potentially even belongs to is the “young” as he’s not even thirty years old. And lo and behold, it’s the issue that he raises – age!
What we have here is the antithesis to the solidarity-focused politics of the Democrats. In Russert’s mind, evidently, when these sorts of issues of systemic power matter tends to be when they affect him specifically and directly. When they don’t though, they’re irrelevant or something he can perpetuate without a thought. It’s the opposite of solidarity. It’s narcissism. This wasn’t a mistake, but Luke Russert saying all too clearly what he really thinks.