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What did Nancy Pelosi represent in US politics? | Moira Donegan

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To Republicans, Pelosi has long taken on a kind of mythic malice. But progressives, too, were not enamored of her

As the new House Republican majority stumbles into power, with all the chaotic, embittered bumbling of a rich man’s son who can only seem to fail upwards, another, peculiar kind of political transition is taking place: Nancy Pelosi, 82, is leaving the House speakership, almost certainly for the last time.

Perhaps no individual has come to symbolize the Democrats more to the people who do not like the party. To Republicans, Pelosi has long taken on a kind of mythic malice. To the Fox-watching white male, Pelosi symbolizes liberal elitism, a vague but totalizing specter of corruption, and that particular kind of liberal decadence that can be evoked by the name of the city that makes up nearly all of her longtime congressional district: San Francisco. She’s a woman in power, and she’s long been supportive of gay rights, and she opposed the Iraq war. She’s been a reliable opponent of conservatives’ favorite culture war crusades: she supports gun control and opposes Confederate statues. In an association facilitated by misogyny, her very face is a shorthand for liberal extremism, a visual code that denotes secularism, taxation and frightening new pronouns.

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