It’s hard to remember Nancy Pelosi before she became the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives once again, and thus the leader of the opposition to Donald Trump.
The importance of her presence and decision-making power are such today that some forget that she came to Congress more than thirty years ago representing California’s 12th District, that she is the only woman to be Speaker of the House, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the country, and that she is the first former Speaker to return to the seat since Sam Rayburn in 1955.
It seems like it was decades ago when Republicans used her image in denigrating advertising, and it also seems like many years have passed since the then minority leader in the House gave an eight-hour speech, at age 77 and in two-inch heels, sharing the stories of hundreds of DREAMers threatened by government policies.
Since the midterm elections, Pelosi not only took over the leadership of the Democratic Party, but also has shown how you keep steady the helm of a government.
Many of the new legislators in the House were looking forward to a change in leadership that would demonstrate the new progressive values of their electorate. And this could make sense in theory. But to face such a difficult moment and with so much at stake for the country, objectivity, experience, strategy, and much, much patience were needed.
When our Founders wrote the Constitution, they suspected we might one day have a rogue president. I doubt they thought we would have a rogue president and a rogue leader of the Senate at the same time. #DefendOurDemocracy pic.twitter.com/Qnm3lnIBtH
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 19, 2019
“Nancy,” as the President calls her, delivered. Her new term as Speaker opened with the government shutdown sponsored by Trump’s refusal to sign any funding that did not include money for his border wall with Mexico.
Remember that historic meeting in front of the cameras between the President, Pelosi ,and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer?
The headlines not only highlighted the president’s temper tantrum, but winked at the Democratic leader’s exit from the White House, always impeccable, with sunglasses and that air of security, sophistication, and confidence of a woman who knows what she’s doing.
At this stage of the game, no one can doubt it.
What a country in the hands of an impulsive, inexperienced president — with a clear tendency to abuse his power — needed was a government branch that would place boundaries. In the case of Donald Trump, known for his questionable relationship with women, the fact that the leader of the legislative branch was a woman is a beautiful irony.
After two years with Paul Ryan cheering the President on in his speeches on the floor of Congress, seeing Pelosi behind Trump in his State of the Union address was comforting.
Moreover, seeing the female Democratic Representatives flooding the room in white was a sign that, under the right leadership, no one would ever again question the strength of women in this country — least of all Donald Trump.
Pelosi’s applause, meanwhile, sealed another moment in America’s visual memory.
The Democratic leader has impeccably managed the influence of social media and the immediacy of information. While younger representatives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know the channels and digital traffic when it comes to responding and sending videos, Pelosi knows how a wink, a piece of clothing, or a round of applause can completely change the narrative in national politics.
On Wednesday, in what the Speaker called “a sad day for America,” her presence was more important than ever.
Yes, it’s true that for many in her Party to approve the impeachment articles against Donald Trump was a matter of celebration. But for those who know about leadership, history is diachronic, and the past weighs heavily when it comes to enforcing the Constitution.
Don’t get me wrong. We all love the pre-Socratic ethics of an Adam Schiff, but Pelosi’s symbolic mourning, upon which she wore a brilliant brooch, proved our argument.
The Speaker of the House decided to use the Mace of the United States House of Representatives, “the long, blunt battle staff that has embodied the legislative branch’s authority since 1789,” Vanessa Friedman explained in her column for the New York Times.
A mace with 13 bundled rods representing the original 13 states and that emulated a dagger, the Roman symbol for strength, crowned by a globe with an American bald eagle on top.
This is a lesson in history, leadership and the use of symbolism in non-verbal language that any president, whether in office or yet to come, will have to strive for eons to outstrip.