On its face, Pelosi’s stated approach — “To meet voters who don’t see the world the way I do,” and ascertain “what we can learn from listening to our fellow Americans” — has a positive, even hopeful ring to it.
“I may live in liberal America, but I know that this is not the only America,” she explains at the outset.
Yet Pelosi’s strategy involves breaking key issues into segments — guns, women’s issues, jobs, the environment, race, immigration — and tackling them individually, traveling to Texas, Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and so on.
What that formula misses is the way such matters are interrelated, divorcing the extent to which someone who advocates “‘god control,’ not ‘gun control,'” for example, might have those views informed by attitudes regarding race and abortion.
Pelosi’s main question — why these people, many of them Evangelicals, support President Trump — keeps coming back to religious faith, yielding responses about Hurricane Harvey being “a wakeup call from God” or the Bible teaching that women should be submissive to their husbands.
Pelosi’s gentle sparring with her subjects, however, seldom has much depth to it. When a Southerner suggests that Confederate statues were erected by grieving families after the Civil War — and that removing them would “erase” history — there’s no mention that many rose decades later, as states enacted Jim Crow laws that disenfranchised African-Americans in the 20th Century.
The most questionable segment comes at the end, when Pelosi interviews a confrontational immigration activist who refers to counter-protestors as “Nancy Pelosi’s grandchildren.” The Democratic congresswoman’s daughter then proceeds to introduce the guy to her own kids — that is, Nancy Pelosi’s actual grandchildren — which could be construed as paying a dubious price in terms of privacy to register a point about seeing one’s political “enemy” as people.
Pelosi’s Emmy-winning breakthrough “Journeys With George,” in which she traveled around with then-candidate George W. Bush, came when the nation was plenty polarized, but the tenor of the debate has changed in the last few years. In addition, there has been no shortage of reporting in outlets such as the New York Times attempting to get inside the minds of Trump voters — much to the chagrin, it’s worth noting, of many progressives.
Pelosi is known for a genial touch. As employed here, though, her travels “Outside the Bubble” conspicuously feel as if she’s touring a shifting political landscape using an old, once-over-lightly road map.
“Outside the Bubble: On the Road With Alexandra Pelosi” premieres Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. on HBO.