Eight newly elected representatives in the US Congress are probably already awake from their jobs. They stand for a difficult choice. They are Democrat. Early next year, the House of Representatives will vote on the new chairman, and in practice it means that the party that has the majority appoints the leader of the own party in that post. So Nancy Pelosi will have to be. But: the majority of Democrats in the House is not huge. And those eight have solemnly promised their voters not to vote for Pelosi.
That is not because the 78-year-old party leader has done her job badly. In the eight years that the Democrats were a minority party, they kept things together. She collected millions of dollars in donations for the party. Her strategy during the elections – not to scold Trump, but to hamper the preservation and improvement of the health care system Obamacare – proved successful.
But these eight Democrats felt forced to lose weight. In their district, voters also looked closely at what the Republicans had to report. And they made Nancy Pelosi the figurehead of everything that is bad about Democrats throughout the country. She was shown in one of the fourteen Republican TV ads. That was an effective strategy – presumably that is the reason why Donald Trump suggested on Wednesday that if in January she had some Democratic votes, a few Republicans would have to vote for her.
The expectation in Washington is that Pelosi will get the presidency without Republican help, even if only because the group is mumbling that it is time for rejuvenation, but has not yet reported a challenger.
With that, Trump gets an opponent who will not be tempted to play after the election campaign. Pelosi will try to do business with the businessman in the White House.
Declaration of war
The question is whether he is prepared to do so. In the past two years it sometimes seemed a bit like that. Together with Pelosi and her colleague faction leader in the senate, Chuck Schumer, Trump signed an agreement in principle last September on legalizing ‘Dreamers’, undocumented foreigners who came to the US as a child. But he quickly came back to this after protests from advisers and Republican Congressmen.
On Wednesday, Trump said during a press conference that he wants to work together. But he also said that he would declare war on the Democrats if they used their majority in the House to investigate his trade and walking, as president and as candidate.
Pelosi will not succumb to that blackmail, she made clear after the elections. She spoke about ‘supervised responsibility’ and promised that ‘we will not shoot with hail’. In other words, the Democrats will not eagerly go after every possible scandal.
But for a mild approach from the president, her group members do not have to be afraid. Pelosi knows that she owes her majority to the wide disgust among many groups of voters of the person and the ideas of the president. She does not have to interpret those feelings, but she can not deny them. After Trump sacked his Justice Minister Jeff Sessions, she twittered immediately:
“It is impossible to see this as anything other than a brutal attempt to undermine and end the investigation of special prosecutor Robert Mueller.”