By Buddy Early, March 2021 Issue.
Some time ago, I ignited a firestorm on social media when I said I would most appreciate a viable presidential candidate under 50. Holy smokes, did I get roasted for being ageist! How could I possibly just write off an entire generation of hard-working, experienced Americans when it comes to our nation’s highest office? I was even called part of “the entitlement generation” by one particularly triggered individual.
Now, while I stand by my belief that a fresh, energetic change-maker would’ve best served our country’s needs during this messed up time, I’ll also accept that dismissing a large portion of our population in that way was a bit harsh. Maybe it’s because I will, in fact, turn 50 this year, and I certainly don’t want to be overlooked in favor of some young whippersnapper who wears skinny jeans and Converse and understands Bitcoin – and that goes for any upcoming presidential race or a game of dodgeball. But back to my point: I was wrong.
Ironically, most of the folks who tried to cancel me for my ageist views are the same folks on the progressive left who wanted to run Nancy Pelosi out of her House leadership because she is out of touch with young folks. (This is called a segue.) Pelosi will turn 80 this month, and in her more than three decades as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives has been elected four times to the position of Speaker. Prior to taking on that role she was tapped as Minority Whip and then Minority Leader by her Democratic colleagues.
Essentially, Nancy Pelosi has earned and has long had the respect and appreciation of her peers. Those who have worked with her in Congress, people inside the beltway, and pretty much everyone who has followed national politics for the last few decades know her as a leader, a tough negotiator, and an effective policymaker. Even opponents on the other side of the aisle who hate everything Pelosi stands for would not argue she hasn’t been good at her job.
We can and should expect Republicans – particularly the current brand that has no integrity or morals, and relies on lies and conspiracy theories to inform its actions – to balk at the things Pelosi tries to accomplish. What we shouldn’t have to deal with is members of the Democratic Party disrespecting her accomplishments and experience. Even more dispiriting, I’ve noticed, is the manner in which many members of the LGBT community have decided Pelosi is ready for the trash heap. It’s not just disrespectful; it’s ignorant.
Nancy Pelosi has been there for us, time and time again. During her first speech on the House floor in 1987, she made it clear that fighting AIDS would be a top priority. And she has stayed true to that promise: challenging President Reagan to step up in the fight; securing AIDS funding first for her home district then subsequently through the Ryan White CARES Act and even across the globe; and she was instrumental in bringing the AIDS Memorial Quilt to Washington and increasing awareness when most Americans were still clueless.
On the political front, Pelosi was among the first members of Congress to support same-sex marriage, joining an underwhelming minority in 1996 to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act. She’s supported our community on every issue facing the country. She lent her name to and was present at major LGBT events, including the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights.
Despite any missteps or occasions where Pelosi had to be educated about an issue, and despite any time she had to compromise to get shit done, I will always love Nancy Pelosi.
If I’m being perfectly honest, I might be more closely aligned politically with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez than I am with Nancy Pelosi. I’m somewhere in the middle right now but becoming more progressive with each passing year. AOC’s role as an ally to the LGBT community is unmatched. She is uncompromising, unflinching, and you can be damned sure she will never sell us out. Beyond her support for gay and lesbian equality, she has been vocal about the rights of Trans Americans more than anyone else ever in Congress.
I am thrilled that AOC and other young progressives like her are making waves in Washington. While I may not be on board (yet) with every aspect of her agenda, nothing she is proposing would bring harm to America. She has a vision of an American utopia that doesn’t deserve to be disrespected by older, more conservative members of her own party.
And I like that she scares the shit out of the likes of Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, and Josh Hawley.
Even in scenarios where her approach may not be incredibly wise, or she may shoot herself in the foot with her own actions, I will always love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Nancy Pelosi and AOC are two sides of the same coin. They will have battles, for sure, and some may even argue they will ultimately “fight for the soul of the party.” But they support us and will go to the mat for us; the last thing they need is for us to pit them against one another. We need both of them.