Why Nancy Pelosi is good for America

As Nancy Pelosi takes charge of the House of Representatives, she is making history in more ways than one. N...

Posted: Jan 4, 2019 8:05 AM
Updated: Jan 4, 2019 8:05 AM

As Nancy Pelosi takes charge of the House of Representatives, she is making history in more ways than one. Not only is she the first woman to be elected speaker of the House in two stints; not only has she stood up successfully to President Trump in the Oval Office with cameras whirring; not only did she deftly compromise with dissidents in her ranks in order to retain power. Nancy Pelosi is also the woman now at the forefront of a potential revolution in American politics.

Despite her unpopularity in GOP districts around the country, Pelosi has become the central player in an unfolding drama, the plot of which centers around one question: Whether the flood of new women into Congress this year can begin the renewal of the badly broken political system that is increasingly holding back the country.

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Since the election of Donald Trump, women of all ages and backgrounds have become more civically engaged, especially on the Democratic side. In the 2015-2016 political cycle, for example, fewer than 1,000 women called Emily's List, an organization that seeks to elect Democratic women to office, for help in launching political bids from city halls to Congress. In 2018, more than 40,000 called Emily's List interested in a political run.

It cannot be stressed enough that, so far, Democratic women have been winning many more elections than Republican women. Indeed, Democratic women have increased their numbers in the House from 64 two years ago to 89 today, while the number of Republican women has decreased from 23 to 13. Smart Republicans are now scrambling to have more women join the parade.

Regardless of the paltry GOP representation, the fact is that women across the nation are opening the door wide so more of their numbers can, in the words of "Hamilton," "be in the room where it happens." Their arrival is welcome news for the future of politics.

Better at leading?

Social science studies and public polling over the past several years indicate that women being in these halls of political power will likely bring positive changes in governance. In fact, a large increase in female leaders could be a saving grace for the country's hyperpolarized, venomous politics. They may just be better at leading than men.

Barbara Kellerman, a faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of several books on leadership, writes about effective leadership as a system in which the strengths of leaders, the needs of followers, and the demands of context all align properly. At this moment, women in leadership roles fit extremely well with the country's needs.

When it comes to the respective leadership strengths of different genders, it's hard to be sure what is absolutely, verifiably true. But research suggests women possess two leadership qualities that our country needs right now. In her book, "Women in the Club," Georgetown University professor Michele Swers explains that women are able to influence change in oft-ignored policy arenas. She writes, "Women are able to leverage their gender to influence policy debates on a range of issues from health care and education to abortion rights and pay equity."

But women in public office don't just bring needed attention to these issues. They also have distinct enough experiences from men that female elected officials bring new ideas on how to fix problems in essentially every realm, from foreign policy to the economy. Given the gridlock slowing down Washington, the looming threat of climate change, and an economy at risk of tanking, all of which place stress on Americans and their families, fresh ideas and a new agenda are critical for correcting the current government malaise.

As critical as new policies are, the country needs more than just ideas. It needs elected officials who will rebuild faith in government. Fortunately, women tend to bring something as leaders that is sorely lacking in Washington: Ethics and integrity. Alice Eagly writes in "Through the Labyrinth" that women are seemingly less likely to encourage unethical practices when on corporate boards or other positions of leadership than men.

Ethics and empathy

Although research confirming Eagly's findings remains limited, people who work with women who lead agree that they are more likely to be ethical and honest than men. A 2012 study by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, published in the Harvard Business Review, found that employees of female leaders rate the average female leader significantly higher than the average male leader when asked to what degree the leaders display "high integrity and honesty."

While the context in Washington is ripe for the strengths that female leaders would bring, the same question that has long held female leadership back remains: Is the electorate ready for women to lead? The recent election and polling suggest that Americans now want what they believe women bring to the table.

Pew reports that 61% of Americans believe women are more likely to be compassionate and empathetic as political leaders. It also found that Americans overwhelmingly believe female leaders are more likely to stand up for what they believe in and do so in a civil way than male leaders. Americans' faith in female leadership is critically important given people's lack of trust in government. Electing women, then, seems like a logical first step toward restoring that trust. The context, followers and leaders seem to have aligned.

However, Pew also found Americans hold a lingering stereotype that might prevent them from voting for women: They believe women are less willing to take necessary risks compared to men. But this stereotype is inaccurate, as recent events have shown. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has fearlessly led in Europe, often making decisions that were politically unpopular, including allowing millions of migrants into the country. Sen. Lisa Murkowski just months ago proved willing to risk her political standing to vote against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Most recently, Pelosi proved herself as risk-taking and strategic as any politician these last few weeks in her showdowns with the President and members of her own party.

Social science and national need suggest this new class of women in Congress -- which will be the largest in history -- should be just the beginning of a new political movement. Looking toward the future, there's one last finding from the Zenger and Folkman study that might be relevant to Democrat voters and leaders come February 2020 when the presidential primary begins: The closer men and women get to the highest levels of power, the more their employees believe women are better leaders than men.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1112735

Reported Deaths: 17652
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1450832237
Lake721711247
Allen66684881
Hamilton50838487
St. Joseph49493645
Elkhart40079546
Vanderburgh34553496
Tippecanoe30654274
Johnson27559465
Hendricks26181383
Porter25556386
Madison21002452
Clark20146278
Vigo18966309
LaPorte17115261
Delaware16666300
Howard16666313
Monroe16556220
Kosciusko14216167
Hancock13061185
Bartholomew12894190
Warrick12152190
Wayne12036268
Floyd11968226
Grant11901242
Morgan10360192
Boone9815122
Noble9234122
Henry9142167
Marshall9062147
Dearborn8923100
Dubois8815139
Shelby8210129
Cass8134127
Lawrence8018185
DeKalb7761108
Jackson764093
Huntington7601113
Gibson7074118
Montgomery7052123
Harrison6923100
Knox6896115
Steuben665889
Miami6563111
Whitley655360
Putnam641584
Clinton624579
Wabash6182111
Jasper610892
Jefferson5796104
Ripley555893
Adams540581
Daviess5062117
Scott488280
Wells4814104
White475669
Greene4680100
Clay462862
Decatur4597110
Jennings448867
Fayette448396
LaGrange425990
Posey407544
Randolph3908107
Washington389856
Fountain373464
Fulton362474
Spencer360747
Starke353574
Owen351277
Sullivan347554
Orange329172
Jay328850
Rush306832
Carroll294239
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Tipton250066
Parke249630
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Brown176150
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Benton166517
Martin151820
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Warren135316
Union121016
Ohio92113
Unassigned0592

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1708292

Reported Deaths: 26587
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1785651827
Cuyahoga1669492640
Hamilton1132851528
Montgomery801921395
Summit715401199
Lucas627081020
Butler56598805
Stark535121171
Lorain41895642
Warren35785412
Mahoning35635771
Lake32124495
Clermont31120363
Trumbull27130616
Delaware27046182
Licking26528336
Medina25825351
Fairfield24511287
Greene24265372
Clark21980387
Portage21117281
Richland20947340
Wood20015246
Allen18870320
Miami17196348
Columbiana16795332
Muskingum16644206
Wayne15664306
Tuscarawas14329360
Marion13250194
Ashtabula12618232
Erie12602198
Scioto12416184
Pickaway12208153
Ross11639225
Hancock11448173
Geauga10863175
Lawrence10617172
Belmont10416234
Huron9765158
Jefferson9601227
Union954075
Sandusky9272166
Seneca8853157
Knox8761170
Washington8675158
Darke8365180
Athens835396
Ashland7956149
Auglaize7897117
Shelby7459133
Defiance7331115
Crawford7233150
Fulton7167112
Brown7135115
Logan6975108
Guernsey691484
Mercer689998
Highland6718119
Clinton6493106
Madison648089
Williams645199
Preble6243140
Putnam6220120
Jackson578896
Champaign578487
Perry564979
Coshocton5623104
Ottawa561999
Morrow515264
Fayette492170
Hardin485999
Gallia469678
Van Wert465693
Pike463476
Adams4569109
Henry432378
Hocking407193
Holmes3989140
Wyandot374973
Carroll363978
Paulding323851
Meigs304959
Monroe235561
Noble219647
Morgan215238
Harrison210953
Vinton186937
Unassigned06
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