On an MSNBC panel I joined yesterday, there was talk – yet again – of sexism in the midterm elections. I participated with members of the media establishment who jointly agreed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) low approval numbers among independent voters (8 percent) are a function of sexism that continues to taint politics.

I’m not going to say sexism doesn’t still exist in the political arena. Certainly female candidates face unique challenges, and many are forced to defend personal decisions – about marriage, relationships and children – that male candidates do not. In fact, there’s perhaps no other place where women’s proper role in society is scrutinized more than in the political realm.

But let’s be clear about two things:

First, the dissatisfaction with Nancy Pelosi is not driven by sexism. Ironically, it’s driven by her objectively successful legislative record. People aren’t upset that a woman is powerful. They’re upset by what she’s chosen to do with that power and the content of her achievements. While the Obama-Pelosi-Reid trifecta ran as moderates – as fiscally responsible, no less – they governed from the left. Despite campaign rhetoric, Pelosi became a near-caricature of a tax-and-spend “San Francisco Democrat” (to borrow a phrase from my old boss). She helped push through a $700 billion TARP bill, a $787 billion stimulus bill and the centerpiece, a $1 trillion healthcare overhaul – a legislative accomplishment nearly 60 percent of Americans rejected when it passed.

Second, the sexism Nancy Pelosi experienced ain’t nothin’ compared to the abuse suffered by Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaign, or Christine O’Donnell, Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, Nikki Haley and Sharron Angle during the midterms. What’s more, the nasty attacks on these conservative women didn’t come from men in a smoky backroom, as was implied on the show. Rather, the most venomous bites often came from supposed feminists – like Maureen Dowd – as my IWF colleague Charlotte Hays has written plenty about.

Yesterday voters made their voices heard; the election was a rebuke of President Obama’s first two years in office and a rejection of failed Democratic policies spearheaded by Pelosi and Reid. Labeling policy disputes as sexism is both wrong and offensive. And if Democrats choose to believe otherwise, they’re going to find 2012 an even more difficult election.