This book seeks to understand Nancy Pelosi, not just as a Speaker of the House, or even as its first female Speaker, but also as a reflection of a new era in American politics. This chapter maps the terrain and introduces the themes that guide the narrative. Pelosi’s story opens a window on social, political, and institutional forces that have framed her career, shaped her leadership, and transformed the context within which the speakership has evolved. These trends are labeled as the “New American Politics.” Since Pelosi is the first woman to serve as Speaker, the chapter specifically explores the gender dimensions of this new incarnation of the political system. Finally, it turns to the implications of these trends for the speakership itself.
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