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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke to College and Kennedy School students about the upcoming midterm elections and the Democratic agenda Tuesday, predicting significant gains for her party.
Pelosi’s remarks emphasized unity, mobilization, and transparency in government, asserting that those principles “are important to anyone who takes public service seriously in our country.”
Caroline B. Kennedy ’80, former U.S. ambassador to Japan and honorary chair of the IOP’s Senior Advisory Committee, introduced the discussion with Pelosi and moderator Mark D. Gearan ’78, director of the Institute of Politics.
Pelosi expressed confidence in a Democratic victory in the November midterm elections.
“If the election were today, we would win the majority,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi emphasized the importance of organizing one’s own agenda before worrying about opponents, repeating multiple times that Democrats “don’t agonize, we organize.”
The Democratic leader also praised the slate of Democratic candidates running for Congress this year.
“They know their why. They know what their vision is about America. They know their subject matter, whatever it is that drew them in: whether it’s climate, LGBTQ, women’s right to choose, gun violence, immigration,” Pelosi said. “These candidates are authentic. They know who they are, why they’re running, what they’re talking about, and how to do it.”
Pelosi also addressed plans for the Democratic agenda if her party retakes the House. According to Pelosi, Democrats plan to “rebuild our agenda by consensus,” welcoming the “revitalization” brought by new representatives.
She predicted the first bills likely proposed by a Democrat-controlled House will concern campaign finance reform and increased openness and accountability in the House. Other priorities Pelosi highlighted included lowering healthcare costs, developing climate-friendly infrastructure, protecting DACA recipients, and establishing “common sense background checks” to prevent gun violence.
Throughout the discussion, Pelosi emphasized the importance of voter mobilization and encouraged students to get involved in campaigns.
“Uncross your fingers and ring a doorbell. Take action instead of hoping that others will,” Pelosi said.
Students who attended the discussion said they were motivated to take action in this year’s midterms.
“I really liked when Nancy Pelosi tells people to uncross their fingers and ring a doorbell,” Katherine K. Roberts ’22 said. “It was a cool way to explain how to not just sit in your room and hope the election goes well but to get out and get people active.”
Attendees also highlighted Pelosi’s focus on the significant number of female Democrats running for Congress.
“In her speech, Leader Pelosi encouraged women to own their power and run for office themselves, which is a message that is empowering for all women at Harvard, regardless of political affiliation,” Olivia M. Ferdinand ’21, chair of the Women’s Initiative in Leadership at the IOP, said.
Pelosi, who will face reelection to become speaker of the House should the Democrats retake the chamber, said she was aware of potential challengers within her party.
“It’s the Democratic Party, it’s what you expect, the vitality. None of that frightens me. It’s what I anticipate, what I expect, and what I thrive on,” she said to applause. “I’ve said to my colleagues, ‘Do what you have to do. Just win, baby.’”
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