Things fall apart
Question: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week confronted a dilemma faced by many leaders: whether to step aside when things go wrong. What should be the criteria guiding such a decision? Did Pelosi make the right choice? Should she have offered to resign but let her caucus make the decision? What about Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid?
The following responses come from six of the fellows that make up the Coro San Francisco 2011 class.
A Change looking forward
How can Congress make the best use of the next two years? To answer that question it is important to note that the interests of the Democratic Party should not supersede the interests of our nation. Rather, our next minority leader must further bipartisan decision-making. As such, there is no need to look at whether Speaker Pelosi is the best person for the Democratic Party. The more important question is: who is the best person is for ensuring collaboration with the Republicans? Leaders are marked by their willingness to do what is best for the greater good. In a time where the importance of cooperation could not be more important, my fear is that Ms. Pelosi will further the polarizing effects she has had on Congress. As the Democrats attempt to rebuild, a fresh face will be more conducive to positive results and Speaker Pelosi should weigh her personal desires against the demands of the greater good. --Kimya Saied
Stick with what works
How is it that Democrats could ask Nancy Pelosi, perhaps the most effective leader and lawmaker in recent history, to step down when she is the only steadfast and very public champion for the Left? Her ability to manage the party and get the votes necessary to make law is what separates the Obama presidency from political failure. Additionally, while Democrats faltered across the board and saw district mandates slip or vanish, Pelosi actually made gains.Yes, it is true that she remains a lightening rod; however, Republican politicians who used the past two years of just-say-no politics would be remiss to forget that, with a majority, voters will demand action. Rather than just blocking legislation, they will be expected to make it. Rather than criticizing bill proposals, they will be expected to submit their own for public scrutiny. This is a process that Speaker Pelosi is all too familiar with. Given the opportunity to act as the leader of the opposition, Democrats should relish Speaker Pelosi's hunger to continue the fight. Party leadership should recognize it as an act of "true leadership" that assures that the promise of Democratic renewal that began in 2008 did not die in 2010. --Edit Ruano
The question's authors, like many Americans (and apparently the Los Angeles Times), falsely assume that the Democratic Party lost seats because, "something went wrong" with our country under Democratic control. Interestingly, we don't remember that the Republican Party was already marketing this message before the current president was even sworn in; and at the end of two years, they will do no better. New Republican legislators will go into Washington with lofty ideas and promises, but will have little lasting impact on the direction of the country. Yes, if something goes very wrong, a leader ought to consider stepping aside; but I don't think this is the question that crossed Speaker Pelosi's mind. If anything, this election was a wake-up call for stronger, more unified leadership for the Democratic Party moving forward, and Speaker Pelosi will fill this role perfectly. --Daniel Cheung
The competitive 'Angle'
Under pressure and time constraints, material lacking oversight slips out. Sharron Angle came under scrutiny for what some regard as racist comments in her statement to Rancho High School Hispanic Student Union as well as an ad released addressing Reid's stance on immigration. Although some may attribute these incidences to the lack of viability of the Tea Party, I would instead attribute it to its youth as a movement. The party's message and stances on issues may be too young to have crystallized to a point where they can capture middle America. That's where competition comes in. If competition can put party leaders in positions where they are vulnerable, then asking Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi to step aside borders on the ridiculous; because ultimately, their resistance to being ousted by their opposition will lead to more effective messaging and stances on issues in both parties that will appeal to the majority of Americans. I say let Angle come back, hone her message, and show America what's she's got. Just don't expect Democrats to get out of the way. --Alexander Tran
Leadership and failure
Leadership requires being able to move an organization though failure. When things go wrong, leaders should ask themselves two critical questions: "What could I have done differently?" And, "Am I the best person for the job?" In answering these questions leaders need to be honest, and should seek outside opinions to mitigate their own biases. The second of these questions is the most critical. Effective leaders refocus their organizations on the future to help them overcome new challenges. The validity of Pelosi's and Reid's choices, if they retain their leadership positions, will be measured by their ability to advance the Democrat's goals over the next two years. --Matthew Podolin
Getting things done
Spending too much time dwelling on past failures can be the downfall of any leader. Reflection is necessary, but only to find ways to improve and accomplish future goals. Nancy Pelosi got things done in her position as Majority Leader, but Democratic seats were lost under her leadership. She pushed forward the policy agenda set by the Democratic Party, but contributed to one of the most partisan Congressional environments in decades. So moving forward she needs to consider how to hold on to Democratic seats and foster bipartisan decision; not waste time regretting past failures and looking for somebody better for the job. --Ikenna Acholonu
November 9, 2010; 4:10 PM ET
Category: Accomplishing Goals , Congressional leadership , Government leadership , Leadership personalities , Leadership weaknesses , Making mistakes , Political leadership , Politics , Succession , Women in Leadership Save & Share:
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