The chatter at Netroots Nation, a progressive gathering that attracts thousands of people each year, was expected to be on the rising influence of the left on the 2020 presidential election. But frustration with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, once considered an avatar of San Francisco liberalism, has emerged as a constant theme ― centered on her recent criticism of progressive members of her caucus.
“She doesn’t act this way when Blue Dogs say stupid shit about other Democrats and about the party and constantly criticize the party,” said Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the popular liberal blog Daily Kos, referring to a group of conservative House Democrats. “For some reason, she’s singling out these four for a special brand of conflict. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Progressive discontent toward the California Democrat has been simmering for months, with the feeling that the speaker has been putting the interests of the more conservative members of the caucus over the priorities of the left. She has pushed off pursuing impeachment of President Donald Trump and been slow to embrace ideas like the Green New Deal and “Medicare for All.”
But it burst into the open when Pelosi gave an interview to The New York Times, dismissing the power of four of the biggest progressive stars in the House: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.).
The four women believed a House measure to provide emergency funding for the migrant crisis at the border didn’t provide sufficient restrictions on how the Trump administration could spend the money. They were further incensed when the House later passed the weaker Senate version of the bill, after moderates signaled that they would provide the votes to support it.
Omar said a vote for the bill was “a vote to keep kids in cages and terrorize immigrant communities.”
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got,” Pelosi said when asked about some of their comments, expressing her displeasure that they voted against the emergency funding legislation ― and then chastised colleagues who did back it.
Omar, Pressley and Tlaib, along with Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), spoke on a keynote panel Saturday morning and received a boisterous standing ovation.