In Pelosi's shuttered view, the fact that only four Democrats out of 435 elected representatives in the lower House had chosen to honor the interests of immigrants, human rights activists and the liberal left in opposition to her "go along to get along" edict made them personae non gratae.
"If the left doesn't think I'm left enough, so be it," she griped to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in July, over an intimate San Francisco brunch.
Fast forward nearly four months, though, and Pelosi has done a complete about-face regarding the value of actual people and the wants and needs of the actual public.
Summoning a gaggle of elite columnists to her inner sanctum on Monday, Pelosi carefully positioned herself right beneath the bust of Abraham Lincoln in order to solemnly announce that "public sentiment is everything."
|Corny Propaganda Or Whatever (staged photo credit, NY Times)|
With no apparent self-reflection and without any sense of irony, Pelosi was almost plagiarizing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who had responded to Madam Speaker's belittling July Maureen Dowd column by retorting in a tweet: "The public 'whatever' is called public sentiment. And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve change in this country."
But Nancy Pelosi wasn't talking about the traumatized caged and abducted children to her elite press couriers on Monday. She apparently ignored a shocking new report by the American Civil Liberties Union, which now places the total number of migrant children victimized by Trump at over 5,400 and still counting. This is about five times the tally admitted to by the Trump administration, which continued its family separation policy even after a federal court ordered it stopped, and even after he flourished his own executive pen to pretend to stop it. The photo-op of a Trumpian antic was completely due to the widespread public backlash that Pelosi later derided as the "public whatever."
Nor did Pelosi react (on the record at least) at her closed press gathering on Monday to the Trump administration's own admission last week, after the release of the ACLU report, that Homeland Security and ICE cops had started caging kids - including 207 under the age of five - even before issuing his "zero tolerance" policy, in which anyone crossing the border without authorization would face prosecution.
Public sentiment about the plight of powerless kids and refugees doesn't count. But public sentiment about the plight of the National Security State does count. And it is for Trump's egregious attempt to abuse the national security apparatus for his own political gain and to damage a Democratic rival (Joe Biden) in the process that public sentiment must be aroused, by any artificial means necessary.
It must not be aroused to achieve the meaningful structural change that AOC and Bernie Sanders call for, but aroused simply to give legitimacy to elite efforts to remove the current oligarchic placeholder known as the president of the United States.
As New York Times columnist and Pelosi invitee David Leonhardt (who just last week did the party's bidding through his column about "taking to the streets" to demand Trump's impeachment over UkraineGate) writes:
Public sentiment is going to determine the outcome of the impeachment inquiry. If Democrats can persuade even a small share of President Trump’s supporters that he shouldn’t be president, he will almost certainly lose the 2020 election. If Democrats can persuade a modest share of those supporters, he will be at risk of losing the support of congressional Republicans and being removed from office by the Senate.It's the same old story. It's all about the liberal political and consultant class winning power and keeping power. Trump must be brought down, not only because it is the morally right thing to do, but because it is the politically expedient thing to do.
Amazingly enough, though, the usually compliant Leonhardt has a tiny little bone to pick with Pelosi:
The battle for public sentiment explains why Pelosi and other House Democrats changed course yesterday and announced that they would hold a vote on Thursday to “affirm” their impeachment inquiry.The language of the resolution is a bit too clever for my tastes: The Democrats insist that this is not a vote to authorize an inquiry. And, legally, they don’t need to take any vote. The Constitution doesn’t require a vote to open an inquiry, and a federal judge recently upheld the legality of the inquiry.It's the same old story. Democrats find it more expedient to be perceived as doing the right thing rather than be caught doing the right thing. This "vote to affirm" is a staged gambit to fool the public into believing that Pelosi's meaningless, superfluous gesture is tantamount to doing the right thing and allowing the public to finally get a glimpse into the still-secret impeachment "inquiry" - which, for now, is restricted to a closed room.
But Trump and congressional Republicans were winning the public debate over the lack of a vote. It made Democrats seem sheepish about the inquiry. So I think they’re right to hold a vote of some kind, in which each House member will go on record as supporting or opposing the inquiry.
Pelosi was meeting with us columnists, from several publications, to explain her thinking on impeachment. I asked her how she planned to make the case that this Trump scandal was different from all of the others that have failed to move public opinion; she said she would have an answer when the inquiry was complete. She promised that it would revolve around “simple and repetitive clarity about the Constitution of the United States.”And complicit stenographer that he is, Leonhardt left it at that. There was no follow-up, no push-back from him against Pelosi's deflective non-answer to his very simple question. There were no questions at all, apparently, about the plight of the tens of millions of "lesser people" suffering in media-imposed silence through the Trump regime. He dishonestly claims that "public opinion" has not been moved by such things as pediatric concentration camps. I guess he wasn't paying attention to all the ad hoc protests by regular citizens at the concentration camps, or to the occupation of Pelosi's office a year ago by the independent Sunrise Movement agitating for a Green New Deal to combat the climate crisis. (which Pelosi later derided as the "green dream or whatever." The woman not only can't seem to keep her disdain for people to herself, she also has a very limited vocabulary.)
Nancy Pelosi and her crew of media stenographers are living proof of what French political philosopher Simone Weil described as the main function of any political party: to generate "collective passions" and to indoctrinate voters on just what these collective passions should be limited to. That's because the ultimate goal of any political party is not to protect the public good, but to achieve growth of itself without limit. Political parties are thus microcosms of capitalism itself.
This not only explains Pelosi's non-answer to the complicit David Leonhardt's procedural question, it explains why Trump's impeachment will likely not center around his institutional child abuse, his racist incitements to violence, his misogyny and reputed history of serial sexual predation, his cruelty to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Ricans, his planned cuts to food stamps and government health insurance, or his deadly assaults on the environment.
As Simone Weil wrote, amidst the last outbreak of global fascism, in "On the Abolition of All Political Parties":
"In principle, a party is an instrument to serve a certain conception of the public interest. This is true even for parties which represent the interests of one particular social group, for there is always a conception of the public interest according to which the public interest and these particular interests should coincide. Yet this conception is extremely vague.... No man, even if he had conducted advanced research in political studies, would ever be able to provide a clear and precise description of the doctrine of any party, including (should he himself belong to one) his own.... A doctrine cannot be a collective product."There's the public (non-elite) sentiment and the private (elite) sentiment. Or, as the possible 2020 Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton once assured Goldman Sachs bankers in a paid speech, there is a "public position and a private position."
Pelosi's task, and that of her media couriers, is to meld the public with the private just long enough to gain back the power they crave. And then it's back to The Same Old Story.
So wouldn't it be great if people took the streets and expanded the elites' astroturfed movement for Trump's impeachment into a general strike to stop capitalism right in its tracks, even if for only a day or a week?
They're doing it in Hong Kong, Haiti, Chile, Bolivia, France. They're doing it all over the world. So how about we give non-sanctioned political protest a chance here as well? It seems like it should only be a matter of time before most of the people here in the USA get miserable most of the time, with no longer even a moldy old couch to be a potato on, or a smart TV to absorb claptrap from. Suddenly and magically they will discover that not only do they have feet, they still have brains that function independently.