Pelosi rebuked to her face during Oxford debate after condemning Americans clouded by ‘guns, gays, God’

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Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was rebuked as an “elite” during a recent Oxford Union debate, where she argued that populism in the United States is a threat to democracy.

Pelosi — a self-described “devout” Catholic — said during the April 25 debate that certain Americans, whom she considered to be “poor souls who are looking for some answers,” refuse to accept the answers Democrats give them on particular topics due to their beliefs about “guns, gays, [and] God.”

Challenging Pelosi’s position in the debate about populism, Winston Marshall, a musician who was once a part of Mumford and Sons and now hosts the “Marshall Matters” podcast for The Spectator, spoke in opposition to the Oxford Union motion that “This House Believes Populism is a Threat to Democracy.” 

The Oxford Union at the UK’s famed university holds itself as a defender of free speech, and has hosted events with numerous U.S. politicians in the past, including former Republican House Speakers Newt Gingrich and Kevin McCarthy.

Marshall argued at the April 25 debate that the meaning of the word “populist” has been changed by “elites [who] have failed” to align with their own narrative.


Pelosi – a self-described “devout Catholic” – claimed that populism is a threat to democracy and appeared to suggest that certain Americans refuse to accept the answers Democrats give them on particular topics due to their beliefs about “guns, gays, [and] God.” (Getty Images)

“‘Populism’ has become a word used synonymously with ‘racist.’ We’ve heard ‘ethno-nationalist,’ we have ‘bigot,’ we have ‘hillbilly,’ ‘redneck,’ we have ‘deplorable,’” Marshall said. Pelosi had argued in her remarks that contemporary American populism currently had an ethno-nationalist character. 

“Elites use it to show their contempt for ordinary people,” Marshall said.

Marshall argued that the change in meaning of the word “populist is “a recent change,” and pointed to a 2016 speech delivered by then-President Barack Obama, who he said “took umbrage with the notion that Trump be called a populist.”

“If anything, Obama argued that he was the populist. If anything, Obama argued that Bernie was the populist,” he said. “Something curious happens. If you watch Obama’s speeches after that point, more and more recently, he uses the word ‘populist’ interchangeably with ‘strong man,’ ‘authoritarian.’ The word changes meaning. It becomes a negative, a pejorative, a slur.”

Pelosi bristles at the comparison between January 6 and the Portland BLM riots

Highlighting the Capitol riots on January 6, 2021, which he believed to be “a dark day for America, indeed,” Marshall said: “I’m sure Congresswoman Pelosi will agree that the entire month of June 2020, when the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, was under siege and under insurrection by radical progressives, those, too, were dark days for America.”

At that point, Pelosi raised her hand and said: “There is no equivalence there. . . .  It is not like what happened on January 6th, which was an insurrection incited by the President of the United States.”

“My point, though, is that all political movements are susceptible to violence and, indeed, insurrection,” Marshall said. “Populism is not a threat to democracy. Populism is democracy. And why else have universal suffrage if not to keep elites in check?”

Marshall said he was “rather surprised” that Pelosi was arguing in favor of the motion as he thought “the left was supposed to be anti-elite” and that the “left was supposed to be anti-establishment.”

“Today, particularly in America, the globalist left have become the establishment,” he continued. “I suppose for Mrs. Pelosi to have taken this side of the argument, she’d be arguing herself out of a job.

Marshall went on to claim that “populism is the voice of the voiceless” and that the “real threat to democracy is from the elites.”


Winston Marshall

Winston Marshall claimed that “populism is the voice of the voiceless” and that the “real threat to democracy is from the elites.” (Getty Images)

“Now, don’t get me wrong, we need elites. If President Biden has shown us anything, we need someone to run the countries,” he said. “When the president has severe dementia, it’s not just America that crumbles, the whole world burns.”

Marshal shifted his focus to examining the elites, saying he believes that Trump should have accepted the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“So should Hillary in 2016, so should Brussels and Westminster in 2016, and so, too, should Congresswoman Pelosi instead of saying the 2016 election was, quote, ‘hijacked.’”

“It was,” Pelosi interjected, drawing laughter from those in attendance.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t accept the results of it,” she added.

During his speech in opposition of the motion, Marshall also took aim at the social media companies that suspended Trump from their platforms following the January 6 Capitol protests and the mainstream media.

“Mainstream media elites are part of a class who don’t just disdain populism, they disdain the people. If Democrats had put half their energy in delivering for the people, Trump wouldn’t even have a chance in 2024 … you’ve had power for four years. From the fabricated Steele Dossier, to trying to take him off the ballot in both Maine and Colorado, the Democrats are the anti-Democrat party,” he said.

“Populism is not a threat to democracy. But I’ll tell you what is: It’s elites ordering social media to censor political opponents,” Marshall said. “. . . It’s Brussels, D.C., Westiminster, mainstream media, big tech, big Pharma, corporate collusion and the Davos cronies.”

Delivering remarks prior to Marshall, Pelosi said, “Democracy is the rule of law, democracy is free and fair elections, democracy is about independent judiciary, it’s about freedom of the press to have transparency and to have accountability of elected officials to the people.”

“It’s about all of that, and that is everything that the populist regime in Washington, D.C., is against,” she added. “Ethno-nationalistic populism, as is the threat to democracy, is about threatening what they call elites, a free press,” she said. “It’s about fighting issues that relate to free and fair elections, where we have voter suppression to the nth degree under this regime and its resistance to passing the Voting Rights Act, the John Lewis Act, all of that.”

At one point, while speaking about those who may consider themselves a part of the populist movement and/or are “poor souls who are looking for some answers,” Pelosi said, “We’ve given them to them, but they’re blocked by some of their views on guns – they have the three Gs, guns, gays, God, that would be a woman’s right to choose — and the cultural issues cloud some of their reception of an argument that really is in their interest.”

The motion debated by Marshall and Pelosi ultimately received a passing vote from those attending the Oxford Union event, 177 to 68.

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