Young people packed the Grand Hall of the Crowne Plaza on Friday night in Indianapolis, but they weren’t waiting for Lizzo or Taylor Swift. They were waiting for the first female Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to speak at the Young Democrats of America National Convention.
Pelosi discussed the future of the Democratic Party, long-awaited progressive legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives and the historical importance of Democrats as a whole.
“One thing about her is that she loves investing in young people,” said Rep. André Carson, D-7th District, who introduced Pelosi. “And now may I introduce the Beyoncé of Congress.”
Pelosi opened by drawing a parallel between the moon landing and the heart of the Democratic Party to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing Saturday. She cited former President John F. Kennedy’s promise to get America to the moon before anyone else despite the idea seeming impossible.
“That’s what this Democratic Party is about, honoring the possibilities of the future,” Pelosi said. “There is no institution that has come up with better ideas, creative thinking or challenges of the conscious of our nation than us.”
She said she was grateful for young peoples’ fresh and creative thinking, citing progressive legislation being pushed by young Democrats such as the Save the Internet Act, raising the minimum wage and gun control legislation.
“I know people describe you as the future, but you are the present,” Pelosi said.
Dana Black, deputy chair for engagement for the Indiana Democratic Party, also spoke at the event. She talked about the potential for young people with electrifying energy, keeping the audience on its feet nearly the entire speech.
“As long as you are working to improve the lives of your fellow citizens, as Democrats we will rise,” Black said. “You all are our hope, you all are our future.”
Although she was met with great enthusiasm, Pelosi’s appearance caused turbulence among some of the attendees at the conference. Some disapproved of her agenda — calling it less than progressive — and hesitance to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
“She has a hard time transitioning and seeing where the future of the party is going,” said Noah Davidson, an attendee of the conference and a member of College Democrats at IU. “I have so much respect for her, but she could be doing some things a little differently.”
Davidson said Pelosi is stuck in her own ways, and representatives should not enter Congress learning the rules of a broken playbook.
Davidson’s disapproval is reflected across the nation. Pelosi remains at a 37% approval rating, according to the most recent RealClearPolitics poll.
After the tumultuous week following President Trump’s tweets suggesting four congresswomen of color “go back” to their countries, Pelosi put emphasis on the power of diversity within the party.
“We should take pride in the fact that we’re so different than each other,” Pelosi said. “We are not a monolith, nor do we want to be, our diversity is our strength, our unity is our power.”
During the rest of the speech, she touched on the importance of passing climate change legislation, claiming Americans have a “moral obligation for our future generations.”
She said Americans need to hold President Trump accountable for his actions, which received an uproar of applause from the crowd and one of many standing ovations throughout the speech.
Pelosi ended her speech with a message of unity but stressed the importance of the Democratic Party winning the 2020 election.
“We will go fight our fight that honors the values of our founders, then we will win that fight,” Pelosi said. “But in order to do that, we must win the next election.”