Watch the full interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi above.
On Sunday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes, Leslie Stahl tried to press her on the rifts in the Democratic Party. There's tension between, as Stahl puts it, moderates and self-described socialists like New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michigan's Rashida Tlaib. Pelosi has said that she alone can unify those disparate parts of the Democratic party, and, Stahl wants to know, can she actually do it?
Pelosi: By and large, whatever orientation they came to Congress with, they know we have to hold the center, that we have to go down the mainstream.
Stahl: They know that?
Pelosi: They do.
Stahl: But it doesn't look like that. It looks as if it's fractured. You have these wings, AOC and her group on one side—
Pelosi: That's like five people.
Stahl: No, the progressive group is more than five.
Pelosi: Progressives—I'm a progressive.
To cut through the some of the labels here: neither "moderate" nor "progressive" have fixed definitions. The coalition that makes up the Democratic Party in Congress is very broad, covering democratic socialists like Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez to Minnesota's Collin Peterson and Texas's Henry Cuellar, both of whom have sided with Trump's positions in more than 50 percent of the votes they've cast in Congress. Who counts as "moderate" or "centrist" depends on the frame of reference: is it the Democratic party alone or Congress as a whole? Pelosi for example insists in this interview that she's a progressive, apparently along with the "five people" she brushed off, but even when she's supportive of progressive causes, she often hamstrings her party's ability to effectively address them. She agreed to forming the Select Committee on Climate Change but refused to give it subpoena power. And despite her history of pushing for expanded health care, when asked about Medicare for All in an interview with Rolling Stone, she rhetorically asked, "How do you pay for that?" (a common dismissal of progressive ideas) while her aides have reportedly assured insurance executives that they don't have to worry about Democrats pushing a single-payer health care system.
Earlier this month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the body in charge of getting Democrats elected to Congress, announced that it would cut off any dealings with firms that support or work with candidates who challenge incumbent Democrats in next year's primaries. Both Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts's Ayanna Pressely came into Congress by beating long-standing, entrenched incumbents, so the message the DCCC is sending is clear: Every safe Democrat goes unchallenged, voter enthusiasm be damned, and no more AOCs.
Of course, Pelosi has taken advantage of numerous photo ops with those "like five people," including posing with Ocasio-Cortez when the hosts of Netflix's Queer Eye toured the Capital and appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone with both Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. In this interview, the Speaker makes her politics explicit: under her leadership, centrism is the goal, following the lead of Republicans as they continue to pull towards the far right.