Why Voting Third Party is Electoral Masturbation

Yeah. I said what I said. Voting for the Greens or the Libertarians or writing in some high-minded alternative candidate is a worthless gesture that serves only to pleasure the person doing it.

Somewhere, a hipster dude in a jaunty hat is sputtering “But, but, but you don’t know what point I am trying to make!” Let me assure you, I do know. And your point may even be a good one. But you tactic is useless and won’t advance your point in any way.

Let’s unpack this shall we?

Some people vote for the actual so-called third parties like the Green Party or the Libertarian Party because they swear up and down that they believe in the ideals of those two organizations. I say those two organizations are not really political parties and they are not really participating in the process of government. All they do is show up every four years and demand attention by mounting a weak candidate for president. If you really want to make a third party a national force, run for mayor as a Green. Run for city council as Libertarian. Develop a state-level organization and prove you have the chops to govern.

We have only two viable parties because all the other parties are spoiled babies who won’t put in the work to compete. Build a functional movement or get out of the way.

Some people say they hate the system of nominating candidates and want to change it by writing in their preferences. Except that your ballot is basically a scan-tron form that gets run through a computer and then packed away. Your name isn’t even on it. Only you know what you did.

No election official is reading your ballot and saying “Great Scott! This person has an incredible point to make about the structure of American elections! I must take this to the others so we can revolutionize the process!”

If you want to change nominating processes you need to lobby your state board of elections and state legislature for changes to the process for getting people on the ballot. The ballot itself isn’t a substitute for doing real, effective advocacy work.

Some people just haaaaaaate both candidate so much that they can’t deal with the idea of voting for either of them.

I wish I could remember where I saw this, but a Black woman addressed this point by saying something like “When exactly do you think Black women have had the luxury of being excited about a candidate? We always just suck it up and vote for the person who will do us the least harm.”

Now, you night say that your protest vote candidate is the candidate who will do the least harm and I say YEAH, BECAUSE THEY WILL NEVER HOLD OFFICE. They will never have the opportunity to make policy. A responsible voter will narrow the choices based first on viability, then assess which is the greatest threat to civil and humans right, and then vote against that person. An irresponsible person puts their own feelings ahead of the greater good and votes for that college professor they remember loving in 1994 or some equally self-indulgent thing.

There are a lot of ways to agitate for change in America and I’m a big cheerleader for protest movements, advocacy efforts, and policy making. But voting for a non-viable candidate is none of those things and it won’t accomplish anything at all. It won’t free detainees at the border, it won’t change criminal justice policy, it won’t protect Roe v. Wade, and it won’t address corruption in the federal government.

Your protest vote is just electoral masturbation and you’re the only one who will get anything out of it.

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

Memories of Debates Past

I wrote this in 2012 after the Biden/Ryan VP debate. It remains one of my favorite things that I have ever written.


Martha Raddatz: Welcome to the only vice presidential debate. This will be a discussion between two guys who will be one bullet away from the Presidency. What they say will probably never matter. In an ideal world everyone will be polite and no one will indulge in Palin-esque winking. We have a lot to cover tonight so I hope both candidates can stick to the time limits for answering questions. Agreed?

Joe Biden: Not a chance

Paul Ryan: Yeah, there’s no way.

MR: OK, then. Let’s get started. I’d like to talk about foreign policy…

JB: Booyah! Foreign policy! Bring it! I chaired the Foreign Relations committee for a long freaking time! I related to foreign countries while my “friend” here was learning about them in geography class!

PR: Did you just use air quotes when you said friend? So uncool.

JB: Whatevs. I’ve been in the situation room. I get CIA briefings. I’m a foreign policy badass. You look like a white kid with a Eurail pass and a backpack trying to score with hot Scandinavian girls.

PR: Sha. As if. Your foreign policy is a hot mess. You won’t even call people terrorists. What kind of American doesn’t accuse anyone and everyone on foreign soil of terrorism?

JB: I’m over here.

PR: I know. But the camera is over there and I need to gaze into it with a sincere look on my face.

MR: Gentlemen, let’s move along to unemployment. It’s a big problem facing our nation, you know.

JB: Is this where I talk about being from Scranton?

PR: Yeah, and I bring up Janesville.

JB: No one knows where Janesville is. Everyone knows about Scranton because I’ve been name dropping it since you were in diapers.

PR: Name dropping it hasn’t fixed its unemployment rate. Janesville has less unemployment than Scranton.

JB: Because of the shit-ton of stimulus money you begged for. You’re welcome, by the way.

PR: I’m not a hypocrite!

JB: Did I say you were?

MR: Next up, let’s talk a little about entitlement programs. Social Security and Medicare. What’s next for those programs?

PR: Slash and burn them! Private sector! Vouchers! Money money money!

JB: What the hell was that? Was that like supply-side fugue state thing? You make no sense and you’re pulling the plug on grandma only not grandma today, grandma 30 years from now.

PR: No, I’m not.

JB: You totally are.

PR: Nuh-uh. I’m doing what Reagan did.

JB: Dude. I was in the room when Reagan did his Social Security thing. Remember? Oh right. You were at recess. Or was it snack time at your elementary school?

MR: ::eye twitches:: Maybe we should talk about the wars…

JB: My son fought in the wars.

PR: ::mutters:: We know. Is he from Scranton too?

JB: Shut up or I’ll bring up my late wife and daughter who died in a car wreck.

PR: Fine. Let me tell you about my trip to Afghanistan where I met with many generals and learned many important things about military strategy. I also learned how to pronounce the names of many Afghan towns and regions. I’ll recite them all if you want.

JB: I know them already. Because of all my foreign policy experience.

PR: Well, those places are dangerous. We need more troops there!

JB: You are a fucking idiot. You want to send more Americans to be killed in a hostile environment in a country that doesn’t want us there and is actively killing our personnel? Fuck that noise. We’re out in 2014. End of story.

PR: Why do you hate the military?

JB: Why are you hell-bent on killing them off? You want to go to war in Syria and Iran and stay in Afghanistan.

PR: We believe in peace through strength.

JB: Nice talking point, bro.

PR: Thanks. Wrote it myself!

JB: Figures.

MR: Ok, we’re almost outta time. And I need a drink so let’s talk religion and abortion for a minute then hit the bar across the street.

PR: I love Jesus and hate abortion.

JB: I also love Jesus. But I love getting the women’s vote too so I’m down with legal access to abortion even though I don’t like abortion myself.

MR: And closing statements.

JB: You cannot elect this clown and his buddy Mittens. They suck. Barack and I get you. We do. Really we do. I’m from Scranton and know people just like you. So, I know what you want and I’ll make sure Barack does it. It just might take a while.

PR: Mitt and I will make you totally rich if you vote for us.

MR: Thank you and good night.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Donald Trump And The Existential Fear Of Being A Loser

There was an article in the days before the 2016 election that described Trump, sitting on his plane, watching the coverage of the race and saying only “I’m going to win.”

That phrase – I’m going to win – seemed to me like the main motivator for Trump. It was the winning that interested him. The role of president, the opportunity to serve, the responsibility to the American people, even the power were all secondary to winning. He is a trophy collector and he believed that the White House was the ultimate trophy.

Four years later, he still doesn’t care about the work or the responsibility of the job. That has been made abundantly clear by his utter failure to engage in stopping a pandemic from killing our populace. I do think Trump has developed a taste for the power of the presidency, especially the parts that translate into dollars or accolades. However, I think the winning is still the driving force for him. The need to be a winner is hardwired into his sense of self like no other impulse.

The fear of losing, of being a loser, and having to admit it is the impetus behind everything Trump is doing and saying right now. I believe when he envisions a loss on November 3, Trump doesn’t think about how it will feel to turn over the reins of the country. He won’t feel regret about things left undone. He just doesn’t want to be the loser in a contest or give up a prize he believes he deserves.

That idea of “presidency as prize” is the reason he has been so bad at the job. The substance of it never occurred to him. He is not a student of history or government and he has no innate drive to be a public servant. He wanted it like he wanted a golf trophy. A shiny object, something he could show off to others whom he wanted to impress. Unfortunately, “others” ended up meaning Putin. That’s who he wants to impress and also who he wants to emulate. An unquestioned leader who gets his way simply by virtue of holding the title

Today, four years since he got the win he wanted in 2016, Trump has come to believe that the trophy of the presidency is his by right. In some ways, I think he is genuinely surprised that someone is trying to take it from him. Democratic and meritocratic principles have never applied to him before and he is shocked that they might apply to him now. The result is that he sees the election as an attempt by Biden to steal something to which he is unquestionably entitled. He wants to keep his shiny object. He wants to say he is the reigning champion of elections.

In Trump’s mind, his efforts to suppress votes, challenge voting results, and bully officials into granting him a victory don’t equal cheating in an election. He sees it as a way to keep something that is rightfully his. He doesn’t believe he is wrong; he believes we who would vote against him are wrong for taking away his hard-won presidency. He is not stealing the election; the election, the victory, should be his by fiat. In his view, his opponents are stealing all of that from him.

Other have suggested to me he fears that he will face legal consequences if he returns to the ranks of average citizens. I’m not convinced that really haunts him. He has been running afoul of the law for his entire career and has never faced consequences. Why should be believe that he might face them now? I suspect that in his darkest moments he isn’t thinking that he will lose an election and go to jail. He is only thinking that people might call him a loser and that is more than he can bear.

This is all why he is so hellbent on winning this election. It’s not the power or the glory that motivates him. It’s not even the concern that his lawbreaking will catch up to him at long last. It’s his sense of entitlement and his desire to win things that is driving him. He will throw any elbow into any face to win this game, even going so far so throw an elbow into the face of democracy itself.

Photo by Shamia Casiano from Pexels

The Inherent Worth And Dignity Of Every Person

Susan B. Anthony went to my church.

I went to the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY when I was growing up. Susan B. Anthony went there, too. Not at the same time, of course. Not even the same building, which was constructed long after her death. But the same congregation. I grew up seeing her noble profile in the portrait that hung in the church lobby.

Susan B. Anthony organized women to fight for their right to full participation in American democracy. She was beaten. She was belittled. She was jailed.

She prevailed. She didn’t live to see it but she prevailed.

I wonder if she ever thought about giving up. If she ever considered cashing in her privilege as a white northerner of some means and walking away from it all to live a life of ease. Just give up fighting for the rights that so many people didn’t seem to care about acquiring.

The thought of surrendering crossed my mind last night when I learned that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died and the Republican-led Senate is prepared to rush a replacement into her seat on the Supreme Court. The battle is all but lost and I should just stop fighting for the rights so many people seem prepared to relinquish.

See, I’m fine. My family is fine. I’m not lacking for rights or privileges. My kids aren’t underserved. My husband is a successful white man. We have resources and options. We won’t suffer in the corporate oligarchy our country is on track to become. I could walk away from any fight I want and not lose a damn thing in the process. I don’t have to care about other people.

But here’s what Susan B. Anthony and I both learned at at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester: the first principle of our religion is respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. She never forgot that and neither can I. I am called by faith to care about other people.

I don’t know what exactly to do next but I do know which two groups have blazed the trail we must follow in this next phase of the American experiment: those who fought for all kinds of civil rights and labor organizers. They were all beaten, belittled, and jailed like Susan B. Anthony was but they all prevailed eventually. Their history is our guidebook for the future.

Book Review: ‘The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes’ by Elissa R. Stone and ‘The Comeback’ by Ella Berman

For more about what I read and mini-reviews of books, follow me on Instagram at WhatRebekahReads!

I don’t think anyone can deny that there is something facsinating about looking int the lives of the rich and famous. Even the most sophisticated intellectual has seduced by tabloid headlines or documentaries about popular culture figures.

That’s why the The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Stone & The Comeback by Ella Berman, which are both about the far side of the fame machine were both so appealing. The look behind the curtain of Hollywood is irresistible and always satisfying.

That’s not to say that these are happy stories. They aren’t. Both books deal with the ascent of the most fragile of famous creatures: teen girls being packaged for mass consumption.

The Comeback is the story of a young actress named Grace who was created by Hollywood, by one powerful man in particular, then broke down at the peak of her career. The plot sounds like a long-form redemption story you would find in a magazine but it gets to so much more. It’s about the way young people are turned into products by the show business industry. How their humanity is diminished and their whole beings become the property of the people who rely on their very existence to make money. Berman gives us a character who is desperate to reclaim herself from her Hollywood juggernaut past while never being sure if she wants to exit the industry or not.

The Unraveling Of Cassidy Holmes is an inside look at the 90s phenomenon of girl groups. Told in the present after Cassidy’s death and in the past during her rise, the book tells the story of Gloss, a group that started organically enough but morphed into a pop product once the music industry got involved. It manages to be character driven while also exploring the minutia of the process of creating a pop culture phenomenon.

What Cassidy Holmes doesn’t do is convey any joy. The story of how Cassidy Holmes came to join a singing group, become a worldwide star, develop complicated relationship with her bandmates, and navigate Hollywood is strangely bereft of any sense of why she is doing it. Whereas Grace in The Comeback has the desire to be in movies and loves the creative process, Cassidy lacks that motivation. The atmospherics of the story all work but throughout it, I kept asking myself why is Cassidy even here? What did she want from this? Does she love music? Love of music usually pervades stories like this – think Almost Famous or Daisy Jones And The Six – but music is notably missing from this story. Tours, videos, costumes, and meetings take the place of actual music.

And maybe that is why these books are ultimately so very sad: they are both about the industry, not the art.

Presidential Cruelty

As I type this, the Republican Party is beginning the third night of their convention. I’m no Republican but I’m not usually averse to watching political spectacles no matter who is putting them on. Well, I wasn’t averse to it until 2016.

These days, I can’t watch Republicans speak, and I particularly can’t watch Donald Trump speak. I don’t have the emotional strength to sit and listen to the cruelty he passes out with both hands.

I’m not being a snowflake here. I don’t shy away from constructive criticism and I don’t mind honest disagreements about ideas or programs. But that’s not what the Trumpian discourse is. He’s just a mean old man surrounded by other mean people and all they do is stand around being as mean as possible. Trump is the ringmaster of a circus of cruelty and watching anything he produces is like signing myself up to be verbally abused.

No, thank you.

During the Democratic Convention last week the party was bending over backwards to show what a nice guy Joe Biden is. It was actually pretty corny the way they were portraying this grinning older man as the nicest uncle who ever pulled a quarter out from behind your ear. In a normal political cycle we all would have been rolling our cynical eyes at all of it. But in 2020? Damn, y’all. It was just such a relief to spend a few hours where everyone was working their tails off to say nice things for two hours per night.

Imagine four years of the politics of nice. Can you even?

I, like so many of you, am tired from hearing my beliefs belittled in the public square. I’m beaten down from the effort it takes to keep speaking out about what I think is right when at every turn there is a bully in a pulpit calling my entire ideology fake news. Twitter used to be fun but now it’s the place I go when I want to be called a “libtard” or worse. The chattering class is the jeering class and the jeering is mean and petty and small. It’s also exhausting, just as it’s meant to be.

And that’s why I’m not listening to the Republicans tonight. They have shown me who they are and I don’t want to spend my time on them. Trump and his flying monkey followers have been trying and trying to smash our collective emotional resistance so we will eventually just give up and let them do what they want. And maybe if we listened to them all the time we would.

But this is still America and in America, the off button on the remote still works. I would rather sit in silence than listen to the litany of presidential cruelty coming from the RNC.

Photo By Nicolas Pinault, Voice of America – Day 4 of the 2016 RNC in Photos; Full-resolution photo, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55113089

School In The Time of Corona

School starts in less than a week here. It’s all going to be online and there are some tech issues that are already driving parents batty and – no joke – the Board of Ed literally voted on the bell schedule this afternoon. Teachers are going into their third day of in-service planning for the year and they didn’t know the bell schedules until a text alert hit all our phones 20 minutes ago.

To say this year is going to be weird as hell does a disservice to weird shit.

Since the spring, I have been calling for punk rock parenting where we all agree to just tear down all the expectations and assumptions we made before the very act of leaving the house was a high risk plan. These are the days to let the screen time flow like milk and honey and maybe not care so much if your kids take up swearing.

Now that school starting, it’s time to get into feminist punk rock parenting. What’s that, you ask? That’s where you dismantle the old systems and build them back with an intersectional intentionality. Or, to put it in simply, fuuuuuuuck grades. And benchmarking. And test scores. And all that stuff that the system has been trying to impose on young brains for generations.

Half of education is spent checking to see if kids learned stuff and then quantifying that data to present to someone else. That someone else – a school system, a government agency, what have you – does not know your child. In fact, they can’t identify your child inside the mass of data they are wallowing in. They like aggregates and those aggregates are NOT GOOD FOR INDIVIDUALS. And in this inequitable learning environment, they’re junk data anyway. Too many variables in the delivery of curriculum. You cant aggregate that which is disparate.

So buh-bye data. Hello parent-informed individual educational goals. Figure out what you want your kids to get out of this school year and concentrate on that part of it all.

Yes, there are basic things kids are supposed to learn at a particular time and you should probably pay attention to that. I really do want my daughter to exit third grade knowing how to do multiplication. But there are other things that will be just as important, such as her emotional maturation and well-being that no benchmarking test will ever measure. I, however, in my new role as full-time-volunteer paraeducator to her can measure it and that will be my focus for the year.

Do I care what her test scores will look like? Nah.

Will a college admissions officer ever look at her 3rd grade test scores? Also, nah.

Let’s use this moment in education to change how we look at measuring what children learn. Let’s stop trying to standardize everything for these unique and special little people. Let’s make school about learning and growing instead of grading. We have the opportunity so let’s seize it.

Dafuq You Been, Feminist?

Y’all. This pandemic is hard. It’s hard on everyone.

I’m like the rest of you, walking around in a fog of Zoom login info and virtual learning schedules and trying to remember what seemed so great about baking bread once upon a time. I stare out the same windows onto the same view hour after hour and wonder why I can’t stop doomscrolling long enough to phonebank for the Biden campaign.

OK, that one has an easy answer. I hate everything about talking on the phone and making even one call requires a day of pep talks. Phone banking is not in my nature. I’ll just send Joe some more money or something.

The thing is I WANT to be the person I was before life shut down. I like being a human who can do something other than read escapist fiction and sometimes do a load of laundry. I want to have Big Thoughts about Big Issues. I hoped that the stress if the shutdown would relent and I could get my cognitive faculties back by now. However, since public health efforts are failing, I need to seek mental health help for myself.

I have ADHD, which is not really a revelation. I’m open about it. I also have depression. I had to quit ADHD meds to take depression meds a few years ago. Luckily, ADHD and depression can all be happening in the same part of the brain so the depression meds helped with focus and I was all good.

Until the pandemic. Then my ability to focus left along with any hope of seeing live theatre or sending the kids back to school. Gone. Buh-bye!

It only took me five months of wandering through the mental cobwebs to make the phone call (see above about phone calls) to get an appointment to talk drug cocktails with a mental health pro. I’m hopeful that she and I can coax my brain back into a higher state of functioning and I can do the high-level things I like again, like writing and activism.

Hell, I might even bake some bread.

So I’m back. Or almost back. Or at least I have a map that will lead me to back someday. And that is good enough for this week.

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Book Review: The Grace Year By Kim Liggett

I love a good book about a misogynist religious dystopia. For real. It’s one of my favorite genres. I think it’s because I read The Handmaid’s Tale when I was about 13 and it made an indelible impression on me.

I also love speculative fiction where people have magical powers. That’s why the description of The Grace Year by Kim Liggett first caught my eye. It’s a story about a highly religious society that sent their 16 year old girls into the wilderness for a year to release their magic before returning to get married.

Dystopia, misogyny, religion, and magic all in one book? What’s not to love about that?

Turns out I loved nearly everything about the book. I blazed through it in under 24 hours then got sad because it was over.

The book takes place in a primitive world that has vaguely Scandinavian overtones. The closed-off society the protagonist Tierney James lives in follows a religion with a Christian vibe, but more Puritan than Evangelical. Women who disobey are often sentenced to death. Women who do obey can become wives when they turn 16. Or, if they’re not chosen as brides, they go become laborers or are cast out to become prostitutes in the encampment outside of the walls of the main society.

But first, the girls must be dispatched to an island to release their magic in a year-long ordeal that is shrouded in secrecy. Women never speak of their grace years so the girls only know that they are being sent away and may not survive to return.

That’s all I can tell you about this story without spoiling the rest of the book.

From the outset or the story, Tierney is a likable character who is buffeted by the forces of her society. Each time she thinks she can wrest back some control of her life, she is dragged back to heel by someone or something stronger than she is. She’s easy to root for and readers will enjoy her earnest desire to not make her fellow female exiles her rivals. For all her good intentions, she isn’t a Mary Sue who’s too sweet for the circumstances. Tierney is no optimist and she knows when to cut her losses and look out for number one.

Tierney’s grace year experience manages not to drag into tediousness, even as she has to literally struggle to stay alive in a hostile environment. Liggett manages to convey the urgency of the fight against the wilderness without lingering over the minutia of the skills for survival.

The supporting characters have depth and complexity as well, leaving all the relationships in the book equally deep and satisfying to experience.

One element of this book that struck a chord in me was the idea that change is a legacy process that happens over generations, handed from mother to daughter. Liggett doesn’t tell the story of a revolution here, however satisfying it might have been to see Tierney burn it all down. While the ending is indisputably hopeful, it is also an ending only of Tierney’s grace year story, not the end of the change for the world she inhabits.

This is the kind of book, which like The Handmaid’s Tale, could shape a young woman’s view of the world and literature. Read it yourself and share it with younger readers as well.

Book Review: Pelosi by Molly Ball

Pelosi by Molly Ball

First, I need to share a couple of points just for full transparency. My husband is acquainted with the author of this book and he and I were able to join a Zoom book launch party when it first came out.

But the fact that I drank wine on my couch while Molly Ball answered questions about her writing process isn’t the reason I loved this Pelosi; it’s because it confirmed everything I have believed to be true about Nancy Pelosi and I am JUST SO GLAD someone is laying it all out in plain language.

It’s impossible to follow Congress and not have a sense of Pelosi’s history. Ball takes readers back to Baltimore and the Democratic machine her family ran in the city of Nancy D’Allesandro’s childhood. She was witness to both the overt power of her father’s political offices and her mother’s more discreet behind-the-scenes operations as a Democratic party organizer.

Both of those experiences informed how Pelosi would rise through Democratic politics to become the most powerful woman in American history.

She used the backroom networking skills she learned from her mother and put them to work as a fundraiser for Democrats in California. That took her on a road to hyper-local politics (the board of a library) to state politics (California Party chair) to Congress, just like her father before her.

Pelosi entered politics in spite of being a woman, not because of it. She wasn’t there to stake out power for the sake proving that women can thrive in the boys club of Washington. She had a constituency to serve and that was always her focus. But she also never forgot that being a woman made her “other” in the Capitol and making sure her colleagues didn’t dismiss her was a constant struggle. She recalled being at a dinner with several other Representatives and all the men in the room were discussing their wives experiences with childbirth. They all chuckled and shared stories and never once asked the women at the table – all of whom had given birth themselves – to weigh in. Pelosi tolerated that in social situations much better than in Committee or on the Floor of the House, where she never backed down.

The Pelosi this book describes is very much like the image of Pelosi I have always carried. I observed her from the vantage point of an advocacy professional in the early Obama years and I admired how deftly she managed her caucus during the crafting of the Affordable Care Act. She was negotiating a bill with a lot of competing priorities in a highly charged political environment. It was a challenge for any leader but this challenge was made more difficult by the loss of a bargaining chip: earmarks. Congressional leaders used to be able to buy votes from Members by promising funding for pet projects back at home. That practice fell out of favor after years of being called nothing but pork, which left Pelosi shepherding a bill through Congress without any way to reward her members for taking tough votes.

But, unlike Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan who would follow her in leadership, Ball describes all the ways that Pelosi had spent her career forging personal relationships with the Democrats in the House. They all could speak her her attention to their needs, her capacity to listen, her assistance at fundraising, and the hand-written cards she sent for birthdays, marriages, and deaths. Those relationships were what positioned Pelosi to manage the ups and downs of a nascent law that was as despised as it was needed.

Ball points out that Pelosi’s successes and skills only became truly evident when they were compared to the disastrous Speakerships of her two successors. Boehner and Ryan fought against intransigent Tea Party insurgents and Trumpist separatists. Over and over again, they barely got bills passed and usually only managed passage by offering concessions to Democrats so that Pelosi would deliver the votes in the final hours. Seldom has a minority leader been able to get as much as Pelosi could get for her own priorities.

The book takes us through the first two years of the Trump presidency and Pelosi’s re-asscention to the Speaker’s chair. By now, her strength and calm are familiar hallmarks in an otherwise chaotic Washington. We all think of Pelosi in her red coat, stalking out of the White House as Trump seethes or of her standing in a room of men, the only woman to breach the halls of power. Where in past years, her effectiveness was questions, now there is little dispute that she may be the greatest Congressional leader of a generation.

This is the book to read if you have ever wondered why Democrats keep turning back to this tiny, elegant woman for leadership, if you have ever been tempted to underestimate her, or if you have ever wondered what it takes to thrive in the cutthroat atmosphere of Congress. I highly recommend it, just as I have always highly praised Pelosi herself.