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Opinion | Seth Moulton

Seth Moulton on Pelosi battle: ‘Tough conversations make us stronger, not weaker’

US Representative Seth MoultonPatrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

‘Take back the House.”

That’s been Democrats’ call to action since 2016. You heard it every time President Trump ignored the rule of law, every time there was another preventable mass shooting, and every time Republicans tried to take away your health care. On Nov. 6, it worked: Democrats took back 40 seats in the House, including record numbers of victories for women, people of color, and veterans — even in traditionally Republican districts.

But now that we’ve gotten that vote of confidence from the American people, the question is: How are we going to use it?

This was a change election, but 2008 was a change election too, and so were 2010, 2014, and 2016. To make this change stick and have a lasting impact on the country, we can’t allow ourselves to rubber stamp anything — not a speakership or a chairmanship or an issue position.


That’s why our party has spent the last month debating who will lead us and where we’ll take the fight first. This has been a contentious process, with some members advocating for action on specific issues and others calling for new leadership in the top three positions of our party. I’ve been a part of the latter group. After working to elect candidates across the country for the last year, I want to make sure the new generation of leaders in our caucus gets a chance to actually lead.

These conversations have been difficult, but we’re stronger because of them. A month ago, there was no climate change subcommittee or voting rights subcommittee. There were no deals between party leadership to ensure that progressive members are proportionally represented on committees or rule changes to allow bills to come to the floor more democratically. And there were no commitments to explore lowering the age of Medicare or legislate on gun background checks. All of that has now changed.


My goal has been to have party leadership that reflects the new generation of Democrats in our country and represents the people who voted for change on Election Day. With the above measures, we’ve done that — and the term limits that Nancy Pelosi has committed to pursuing are just as important.

With these changes, the leaders of our caucus will no longer be determined by tenure and loyalty but by frequent and open elections, giving us a better chance to change and evolve as the country does. They will also incentivize those in power to build our bench, something our party has struggled with for years. That’s progress.

Ultimately, this leadership battle has given us the time to choose who we want to be as a party, and not to let inertia decide for us. Nancy Pelosi has shown real leadership by coming to the table with us for these reforms and agreeing to limit her own term as speaker. That’s leadership by example. Now it’s time to move forward united.

But there’s also a lesson in all of this: Tough conversations make us stronger, not weaker, and we need to keep having them if we’re going to deliver on the change that we’ve promised the American people. Because for most people, it’s not about which party has the gavel but what we do with it.

We should always strive to be better, even when it’s difficult and even when we disagree. That’s what we’ve been doing as a party for the last month. And now, even more than we were on Nov. 6, we’re ready to do it for the country.


US Representative Seth Moulton represents the Massachusetts Sixth District.