Bervin was here first thing this morning as he had promised when he called me earlier in the week to arrange a time to come over and take care of our yard for Pretty and me – a job he has held at all four of the different places we’ve called home during the past 19 years. He met me at the door and said with a broad smile “those people in Congress look more like me and you now, don’t they?” Then we both laughed because Bervin is a very handsome middle-aged African American man and I am, well, an old white dyke; but our political beliefs have been as instrumental in keeping us together as the green grass in summer and the brown leaves in winter. This first week of 2019 brought joy to both of us.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is the best word I have for my feelings as the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, took the gavel from a group of Republicans who were clearly out of sorts at this peaceful changing of the political guard in the House of Representatives of the 116th. Congress in the United States of America on January 3rd. When she gathered her grandchildren and the children of other House members to the podium as she took the oath of office in that hallowed chamber for a second time as Speaker, she smiled and smiled and even giggled a time or two. Her grandchildren called her Mimi in an atmosphere one reporter called akin to the excitement of a first day in school. I sat glued to the tv – wondering if this woman of slight stature should have dropped from the sky holding an umbrella instead of a gavel.
I needn’t have bothered. Her first speech as Speaker was direct and unapologetic while offering olive branches to her colleagues across the aisle in an effort to raise the level of discourse between the two parties. She referenced the symbolism of her leadership in a year in which the country would celebrate the 100th anniversary of a woman’s right to vote, a year where more than 100 women had been elected to serve in the lower chamber. As she spoke, tv cameras periodically panned the audience of women, people of color, and people of different faiths now seated in positions of power. To quote my friend Bervin, these folks looked more like him and me than the usual Washington political crowd. They looked more like Americans really look. They looked more democratic with a small “d.”
Last night I watched Nancy Pelosi’s first televised interview as Speaker. The setting was a town hall meeting on the college campus she graduated from in 1962. She fielded questions from commentator Joy Reid and from students in the audience. The topics were as diverse as the real concerns of the American people: climate change, government shutdown, health care, immigration, border security, clean air, clean water, shrinking middle class, wealth disparity, racism, sexism, lgbtq rights and on and on. Speaker Pelosi was forthright in her answers and any Mary Poppins worries I’d had vanished.
Hey DC dudes, listen up – there’s a new nanny on Cherry Tree Lane and she’s no Mary Poppins. Here’s her first warning: “the culture of cronyism, corruption and incompetence in the federal government has to stop.”
Thank you very much. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Honestly, people, enough is way past enough.