Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi could be on her way to Speaker of the House by dinnertime Tuesday in San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

By Colleen O’Connor

What rewards do conquering heroes or heroines usually receive?

Applause. Lots of money. Near boundless power.

And, if enlightened, these leaders are allowed to lead. Think Revolutionary War General George Washington who went on to become the first President. And World War II General Dwight D. Eisenhower — another President.

But, Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the one who delivered some of the largest Democratic House wins in almost half a century, the one who turned the entire Northeast and reactionary Orange County blue — what does she get?

A challenge by a bunch of wannabes.

Pelosi, much like the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, in her classic rendition of R-E-S-P-E-C-T—seriously deserves some.

That Grammy award-winning song—as with Pelosi herself — “has passed down through generations, crossed cultural divides and volleyed through” multiple campaigns—from Vietnam to Trump—and all the wars in between.

Why is Pelosi being challenged and by whom?

Why? Perhaps, because she led too well. She has raised too much money for the party coffers. She has stood up and defeated a President while too many Democrats and Republicans cowered.

She has delivered a blue wave that drowned not just GOP members of the House, but conveyed a serious blow to the President’s “winning bigly” ego.

However, in the “Me, Myself, and I” era that is upon us, some Democrats have begun to imitate the lesser qualities of Trump: derision for the hands that fed them.

It has to be greed. And it seems infectious.

So, who are these challengers—willing to give aid and comfort to the Republicans—in the midst of a triumphant Democratic election?

The bi-partisan “Problem Solvers Caucus” that has never solved a problem is one.

Then there is the six-term congresswoman from the fly-over state of Ohio who has declared herself a better choice than Pelosi.

So, who is this woman saying she has received “wonderful support” since announcing her willingness to “stand up” for the speakership.

Marcia L. Fudge, 66, is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Her talking points? She is black and a female because the opposition wanted a woman in the “year of the woman.”

Maybe the optics are better, but does she comprehend Pelosi’s role in history?

Who was there for the civil rights battles? Nancy Pelosi.

Who was there pushing and defending women’s rights, workers’ rights, and LGBTQ rights before most other members of the House? Nancy Pelosi.

And, who has been there for all of the grievous environmental struggles still in play? Nancy Pelosi.

Even the youngest, newly elected member of the House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, gets it.

While joining a climate change protest outside Pelosi’s office, she remarked, “we’re here to back her up in pushing for 100 percent renewable energy and we’re here to support that kind of bold, progressive leadership.”

Pelosi has delivered entire states (not the least of which is California) into the Democrats column—without which Ohio would remain in limbo.

Fudge risks being labeled someone willing to aid and abet the Republicans currently in retreat.

Granted, Pelosi remains the odds-on favorite to win the Speakership again.

And that she has the gravitas and experience to outwit the President (as already amply demonstrated) plus an iron-clad pledge to “remain as long as Trump does.”

But, she still faces a lack of R-E-S-P-E-C-T among those drooling over the unopened Christmas packages and committee assignments that Pelosi has delivered.

So, challengers, do what Pelosi advised all those Democratic nominees to do during their campaigns: “Just win, baby.”

They did. And she will continue to lead.

Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.