Scripps Presents: Nancy Pelosi to Students: “There’s a Special Place in Heaven for People Who Vote”

Nancy Pelosi and Vanessa Tyson

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi shared her trademark humor and pointed yet graceful conversational style while discussing a range of political and personal topics at a Scripps Presents: Conversations noontime event on February 18. More than 500 students and community members attended, erupting in appreciative laughter, particularly at her closing pronouncement that she believes “there’s a special place in heaven for people who vote.”

Vanessa Tyson, assistant professor of politics at Scripps, moderated the discussion with Pelosi, which took a lively path through the challenges of partisan politics, the Leader’s fight for bigger paychecks for American families, her success in raising federal emissions standards, and her hope for juvenile justice reform. Pelosi also shared how through her 28 years serving San Francisco for California’s 12th District in Congress she has been driven by her passions for justice.

“Coming here today, my daughter Christine reminded me to share with you how, when I first ran for Congress, the talk was ‘who said she could run?’ No matter what objections you face, you must be yourself—it’s worth it, and urgent for our country,” Pelosi urged the predominantly millennial audience.

As Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 114th Congress, Pelosi is considered one of the most powerful women in politics. She noted that although she originally had no ambition for elected office, she was driven to help alleviate poverty in the U.S. and realized how she could make a difference as a woman.

“In Washington, we don’t call it the glass ceiling, we call it the ‘marble ceiling.’ It’s harder!” she said, grinning.

She has long been a champion of rights for women as caregivers, and talked about the “four legs of the stool” for legislative reform needed in the areas of better pay, national paid sick leave, quality affordable childcare, and support for seniors, where women carry a disproportionate caregiver responsibility. Pelosi expounded on how the country is a better place for everyone when there are better support systems in place for women who are so often in traditionally unrewarded roles.

“When women succeed, America succeeds,” Pelosi stated.

Pelosi emphasized throughout her talk how every person brings something unique to the political process, citing the importance of diversity and representative voices in all phases of democracy. She spoke diplomatically about the difficulties of navigating would-be bills in the divided and often corrosive bipartisanship environment in Congress. When asked by Tyson where the political parties could find common ground, Pelosi grinned, tilted her head, and addressed the audience directly, saying: “It’s not good. But it’s not as bad as you think!”

Pelosi delighted many Bernie Sanders supporters in the audience by acknowledging his unique ability to attract new and younger voters during a discussion centered on the presidential election proceedings.

The program concluded with student audience members submitting their questions to Leader Pelosi.


For more about Scripps Presents programs, click here.