In fifth grade, prior to the 2008 election, I was nearly sent to the principal’s office for calling another student a sexist when he declared, “My dad says Nancy Pelosi is bad.” How I was able to articulate sexism as a fifth grader is beyond me. I was the kind of kid who dreaded the possibility of being sent to the principal’s office–but that was the first time that I stood up for something I cared about, regardless of the punishment. It felt good; and I was relieved that I was able to gloat about the Democratic victories just a few weeks later.

Nancy Pelosi is a woman who breaks glass ceilings and accomplishes the seemingly-impossible. She has been fighting for progressive feminist values her entire life, advocating for LGBTQ equality, racial justice, and women’s rights. Without her, there would be no Affordable Care Act to protect. And she just led her party in winning back nearly forty seats in the House of Representatives, the biggest Democratic pickup since Watergate.

Nancy Pelosi is objectively considered one of the most effective Speakers in United States history, which is why Republicans have used the vilification of her as a campaign tactic for over ten years. In the 2018 House elections, they made her a top campaign issue, forcing Democratic candidates to run against her so that they’d be less likely to support her once they were elected. Keeping Nancy Pelosi out of power, whether Democrats control the House or not, has always been one of the GOP’s primary objectives, and they’ve played off the disappointing fact that people are quick to believe the worst about a successful woman.

There is a reason I say that much of the vitriol against her is grounded in sexism. Criticisms of Nancy Pelosi are not based on her positions, but rather her personal traits: her age, her tone, her dedication. It reminds me of the way people talk about Hillary Clinton. In contrast, the lead up to last week’s vote for Senate Minority Leader saw virtually no public criticism of Chuck Schumer, who was easily re-elected to his post despite the recent loss of four incumbent Democratic Senate seats.

And yet, a small contingent in the House remains dead set on stonewalling Nancy Pelosi, a progressive and forward thinking leader.

These are no ordinary times to be serving as Speaker of the House. President Trump is facing serious investigations into his electoral, personal and financial dealings with foreign powers. We need an experienced Speaker at the helm who can bare the brunt of any impending storm and do what needs to be done despite criticism from the right. That could mean filing articles of impeachment, or, as third in the line of succession, it could mean assuming the role of president herself.

But it’s not just about the worst (and by worst I mean best) case scenario. With the White House and Senate still controlled by Republicans, the House is our only leverage over an administration that seems hell bent on stripping people of healthcare, attacking immigrants, and skyrocketing the deficit. Remember when Republicans used to complain about the deficit? What happened to that?

Playtime is over. Trump cannot pass a single piece of legislation without Democratic support, and Nancy Pelosi is a leader who can keep her caucus in line.

Democratic control over a branch of Congress is not just simply about stopping Trump. The American people overwhelmingly elected Democrats because they support a progressive agenda. We have a chance to pass voting rights protections, improvements to the Affordable Care Act, protections for Title IX, and student debt relief. Yes, some of our initiatives will face a tough battle in the Senate, but if we even want a chance, it’s important to have a Speaker who is skilled at whipping votes and working in a divided government.

We already know that the Republican Party leadership has very little respect for women, so why would we allow them to control the narrative around one of the most successful and effective Democratic women in history? It is beyond time for Democrats to stop repeating GOP talking points and elect Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. I can’t wait to see her scare the hell out of the Republican Party.

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