Time for Rep. Shuler to step into the spotlight

I read with interest the press coverage of yesterday’s vote count for Speaker of the House. If you didn’t catch it in The Hill, you need to study the implications of what those votes that were cast AGAINST Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) meant for her future as the Democratic leader in the House.
 
All told, 18 of the 193 Democrats voted for someone other than Pelosi. Historically, the minority party knows it cannot possibly nominate its choice for Speaker, so they all throw their vote behind their best choice. One-tenth of her caucus voting against her in a process that actually means nothing says something.
 
Rep. Heath Shuler out of North Carolina received the most votes. This is consistent with his candidacy to replace Pelosi as the new leader of Democrats for the 112th Congress. Now it’s time for Shuler to continue his role through 2011 and beyond. 
 
Even if he lacks the authority to move his fellow members through the muscle of committee assignments, etc., Shuler has the power to force the media to take note when many join him and buck their current leader.
 
And make no mistake, Democrats — feeling the heat that is sure to come in 2012 — will be presented with many opportunities to buck Pelosi. Nothing about her liberal agenda has changed. And she is unapologetic. That sets the stage for some major internal strife and struggles with her colleagues, many of which we may never see.
 
Enter Shuler. He can openly work with Republicans and Democrats alike to form mini-coalitions and move specific items of legislation. Mind you, this is not meant to backstab Pelosi, but rather execute what virtually every rank-and-file Democrat knows in his/her heart — they must change the way this process is running. For if they don’t, they’ll be run over. 
 
Rep. Shuler must seize this moment, and think creatively of how he can delicately work across party lines to push for meaningful legislation. I believe Republicans will be open to such gestures, for the onus is on them to actually pass bills. Shuler’s glory will come, if he doesn’t worry about who gets the credit. But right now, he’s the only Democrat I can see who has any respect from a silent majority of his caucus to take up this mantle. 


Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arightside, and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/arightside.