Regardless of your politics, Nancy Pelosi is one of the most famous politicians alive. As the Speaker of the House of Representatives, she is one of the major faces of the Democratic party. And her political decisions have literally affected millions of lives over the years.
Despite being one of the biggest names in American politics, very few people understand who the real Nancy Pelosi is. But if you’d like to get a peek into the mind of someone charting the future of the country, we’ve assembled the most surprising facts about Nancy Pelosi. Keep reading to discover some fairly shocking stuff!
Her political career began in the ’60s
At times, it feels like Nancy Pelosi has been in office forever. And the reality is that this is basically true!
Born in 1940, her political career began when she helped fundraise for Democrats in the ’60s and ’70s. Eventually, she became the Chair of the Democratic Party of California in 1981. And just a few short years later, she began representing California in the House of Representatives in 1987. She has been re-elected to Congress ever since.
Now 81, Pelosi’s many years of service have solidified her as a force to be reckoned with, both within the Democratic party and the overall world of politics.
She is the first major female Congressional leader
Nancy Pelosi’s accomplishments would have been impressive enough if she was “only” serving in the House of Representatives. However, she also made history by becoming the first major female Congressional leader.
She became the House Minority Whip in 2001, and the House Minority Leader in 2004, making her the first woman to hold either position. As she gained prominence and power, she ended up putting her weight behind a number of initiatives. At first, this included attempts to bring Democrats and Republicans together, but the Trump administration ended up putting Pelosi more on the defensive against antagonistic political opponents.
It’s worth noting that in 2007, Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House, and she was re-elected to this position for the third time in 2019. This makes her second in line to the presidency after the vice president. Because of this, it’s fair to say that Pelosi is the one of the most powerful and influential women in the history of U.S. politics!
She made the Affordable Care Act happen
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been one of the most divisive political acts in history. But love it or hate it, we largely have Nancy Pelosi to thank for the ACA passing.
That’s because the ACA was contentious when it was first unveiled, and it looked like President Obama would not get enough votes to secure its passage. And he was willing to create a more incremental approach in order to court Republican votes.
However, Pelosi insisted on pushing a compromised version of the ACA through. While these compromises were not perfect, and some contributed to how divisive the act was, Pelosi single-handedly ensured that Obama had the votes he needed to pass the ACA in 2010.
Pelosi’s daughter has followed in her footsteps
While people mostly think of Nancy Pelosi as a politician, they often forget about her personal life. Born Nancy D’Alesandro, she married Paul Pelosi in 1963. They have five children and nine grandchildren. Her youngest daughter, Alexandra Pelosi, has followed her into politics, but not as a politician!
Instead, Alexandra became a journalist and renowned documentary film director. She has directed 12 HBO specials, including Outside the Bubble, a film that focuses on interviews with Donald Trump supporters from all across the nation.
But if Alexandra focused on Donald Trump in her work, she was only following in her mother’s footsteps.
She knew how to call Trump’s bluffs
During Donald Trump’s presidency, he saw Nancy Pelosi as one of his chief political enemies. And the reason for this is simple: she knew how to call his bluffs!
The best example of this came during the government shutdown that ran between December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019. Trump was demanding to keep the government shut down unless he got $5.7 billion of federal funding for his Mexican border wall (the same one he once promised Mexico would pay for).
Instead of caving in, Pelosi refused to allow Trump to give the State of the Union address while the government was shut down. Trump withdrew his request and the shutdown came to an end.
Trump refused to shake Pelosi’s hand
Over time, Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump became very bitter rivals. But Pelosi still tried to find little opportunities to extend civility towards the president. Sadly, she didn’t always get a civil response!
One of the better examples of this came during the 2020 State of the Union address. As the video above shows, Pelosi tried to extend her hand towards Trump for a handshake. But he ignored the gesture entirely, making the whole thing weird and awkward.
Her clap for Trump became a meme
Sure, Nancy Pelosi has countless political achievements to her name. But one of the most notable accomplishments came in 2019. That was the year that Pelosi became a meme!
In response to Trump’s State of the Union address, many in attendance were clapping. Pelosi clapped, but she did it in the most exaggerated way that many interpreted as sarcastic. Still, Pelosi claimed afterward, “It wasn’t sarcastic” (via USA Today).
Pelosi clapped after Trump asked everyone to “reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.”
Her applause was real, she says. “I wanted him to know that was a very welcome message.”
She ripped up Trump’s State of the Union speech
It seems like Pelosi and Trump’s biggest clashes occur during each year’s State of the Union address. And the 2020 address was certainly no different!
In a gesture of defiance, Nancy Pelosi tore up a copy of Trump’s speech right after he finished delivering it. This moment soon went viral and showcased exactly how Pelosi felt about everything Trump had to say!
Later, Pelosi said she had not decided to rip up his speech in advance, but did it in the moment after she could not find a page “that didn’t have a lie on it” (via Reuters).