"I said yesterday we did not have the majority, but we have the gavel," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a press conference Wednesday. The ensuing laughter prompted the 72-year-old, who once served as the nation's first female speaker of the House, to reconsider her statement. "Excuse me," she said. "We don't have the gavel ... We have something more important, we have unity. We do not have the majority, we do not have the gavel, but we have unity."
Pelosi's second statement is correct: Democrats are the minority in the House, and they are now more unified than ever. Having shed the few moderates they had, they are more unified around a far-left ideology that has a proven track record of exploding the debt and sinking the economy.
Just look at Pelosi's record as speaker. When she first took the gavel on Jan. 3, 2007, the federal government was on track to spend just $2.7 trillion that year. The federal deficit was a mere $160 billion, and the cumulative national debt was $8.7 trillion. Only 7 million Americans were unemployed, and the nation's unemployment rate was just 4.6 percent.
Four short years later, when Pelosi handed the gavel back to the Republicans, the country looked a bit different. Spending had soared to $3.6 trillion. The federal deficit was $1.3 trillion, and the national debt was $14 trillion. Fourteen million Americans were unemployed, and the unemployment rate had almost doubled to 9.1 percent.
With this record in mind, it is not all that surprising that Democrats now have about 60 fewer seats in the House than they did after President Obama's 2008 victory. And the vast majority of those losses have come within the moderate wing of the Democratic Party.
When Pelosi became speaker in 2007, the fiscally moderate Blue Dog Caucus had 47 members. After last Tuesday's election, Blue Dog membership is down to just 14. Moderate Democrats, who promised their swing-district constituents fiscally responsible votes in Congress, found themselves unable to defend Pelosi's record.
Where Blue Dogs haven't been voted out of office in favor of more moderate Republicans, they have lost primaries to more liberal Democrats. Commentators focus on the Tea Party, but they're missing the same story on the other side of the aisle. Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., for example, was heavily outspent by the far more liberal incoming Rep. Gloria McLeod. Pelosi and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not lift a finger to help Baca.
It's not as if the DCCC didn't have any resources. According to the latest Federal Election Committee reports, the DCCC raised $152 million this election cycle, $25 million more than the National Republican Congressional Committee. And that is the real reason House Democrats kept Pelosi as leader: Liberals are addicted to her money-raising talent. Pelosi personally raised more than $85 million for other Democrats all by herself just this cycle. Over the last decade, she has raised more than $300 million.
But when you take her money, it comes at a price. Her brand of unrepentant big-government liberalism may be popular in her San Francisco district, in the Bluest part of Blue California, but it doesn't sell in the rest of the country. Until Democrats go with a more moderate leader, they will remain united, but they will never be a majority.