Just How Destructive Is “The Resistance,” Really?
A couple of items in the national commentary caught our eye this morning; both are warnings that the far left “Resistance” is making the Democrat Party unelectable by the stridency and clownishness of its actions and statements.
After all, it will be difficult to sustain the Trump Derangement Syndrome that his “shock and awe” behavior has inspired. “Whether intended or accidental, Trump’s barrage of initiatives is thus far, by sheer volume and audacity, having the effect of confusing and overwhelming his opponents,” said Benjamin Ginsberg, a political scientist at John Hopkins University.
But the confusion is only making it more difficult for Democrats to think strategically. Even the Trump executive order temporarily banning travel from seven Muslim nations wins support from about half of the American people, despite a rollout that many — including National Review editors — criticized as botched. Support for building a wall along the border with Mexico hovers at an approval rate of 50 percent or higher.
But for now, such practical considerations are being pushed aside in the rush to portray Donald Trump as some kind of “fascist in chief” occupying the White House. In California, Democratic assembly member Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles has predicted that the anti-Trump resistance will be “a looming, long, ferocious and hard-fought legal war with bloodshed stretching from the Golden State to Washington D.C.”
If Democrats believe that this kind of hyper-partisan opposition will carry the day or appeal to moderates, I say, “Good luck with that.” Donald Trump has a knack for alienating many voters and saying stupid things. But his biggest asset may be that his over-the-top adversaries are even better at painting themselves in negative terms.
And Democrat pollster Doug Schoen, who has long counseled his party against radicalism, in the Wall Street Journal…
Mr. Schumer isn’t alone in feeling pressure from the left. His party is deeply divided between pragmatic politicians and an activist base that styles itself “the resistance.” The minority leader may feel his survival depends on adopting the activist approach. But outside the heavily blue coasts, it could consign Democrats to permanent minority status, continuing a trend that has cost the party the White House, both houses of Congress, 13 governorships and nearly 1,000 state legislative seats in the past eight years.
There may be more losses to come, especially in the Senate, where 10 Democrats are up for re-election next year in states Mr. Trump carried. They’re unlikely to win through unyielding resistance.
Total noncooperation with Mr. Trump’s agenda isn’t viable in Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia, all of which Mr. Trump carried with more than 55% of the vote. Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were closer, but Democratic senators in those states surely realize anti-Trump intransigence will not persuade the thousands of Trump voters they need.
Mr. Trump’s executive order on immigration draws furious opposition in blue-state cities, but its reception in Trump country is likely to be different. Quinnipiac polling after the election found 48% nationwide support for Mr. Trump’s policy of “suspending immigration from ‘terror prone’ regions, even if it means turning away refugees from those regions”; only 42% were opposed. Polls taken after the executive order showed levels of support ranging from 42% to 52%, depending on how the question was framed.
If the Democratic Party’s activists cannot accept that victory requires selective cooperation with Mr. Trump as well as protection of their core values, the party itself could be condemned to further weakness, irrelevance and even obsolescence—beginning with the 2018 election.
Schoen is almost surely correct, as is Fund, that in the near future the all-out “resistance” is a loser. By 2018 it’s entirely likely that the economy will be doing better than it is today, and the electoral map for that mid-year cycle is a disaster for Democrats. They’re forced to defend more than half (25 of 48) of their Senate seats, including these 10…
- Joe Manchin in West Virginia
- Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota
- Bill Nelson in Florida
- Jon Tester in Montana
- Claire McCaskill in Missouri
- Joe Donnelly in Indiana
- Debbie Stabenow in Michigan
- Sherrod Brown in Ohio
- Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin
- Bob Casey in Pennsylvania
…which went for Trump in the 2016 elections. In addition, Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota and Tim Kaine in Virginia are not completely out of danger, and opinion polls in Massaachusetts even found that Elizabeth Warren is underwater as to approval rating and could be vulnerable to the right Republican challenger.
Republicans only have eight seats up for re-election. Jeff Flake in Arizona and Dean Heller in Nevada are the only remotely possible Democrat pickups.
Democrats have to be seen as a viable alternative to Trump and the GOP. That’s hard to make happen when your people are rioting over conservative speakers on college campuses and showing up on the Washington Mall in vagina hats. The “resistance” is going to be very costly in 2018 for that party; this much is certain, and should Republicans pick up eight seats they’ll be at 60, which will make for a filibuster-proof majority with respect to legislation – if that number is achieved it’s within the realm of possibility that the near-total dissolution of the federal regulatory state, or at least its reduction back to levels commensurate with a return to mostly-unfettered capitalism, could come. So could a flat tax, and even meaningful entitlement reform. Trump could be in a position starting in 2019 to fulfill the policy dreams of the Right in much the same way the Left hoped Barack Obama would fundamentally transform America following his election in 2008 with the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate under Democrat control.
And at the state and local level there is no particular prospect of a Democrat comeback based on “the resistance” starting riots and protesting at airports and other public facilities – normal Americans weren’t impressed with left-wing politics when Democrats controlled the country for eight years and voted against it in elections for everything from state representative to U.S. Senate, with the only real exception being Obama’s 2012 re-election, and where “the resistance” is a winner is in places Democrats already completely control.
But here is the concern. It’s not that “the resistance” will bring Trump down or make his presidency a failure. Trump will succeed or fail on his own merits, and if he implements popular or meritorious policies in a competent fashion he’s likely to be successful – perhaps wildly so – no matter how much a bunch of out-of-power Social Justice Warriors screech.
No, the concern is that the pendulum always eventually swings the other way. Reagan and Bush 41 begat Bill Clinton, who begat Bush 43, who begat Obama, who begat Trump. At some point the Democrats will be in a position to retake political power. And what’s most worrisome is the effect the “resistance” is going to have on the Democrat Party. If the threatened primary challenges to the McCaskills, Stabenows and Manchins of the world, who out of a sense of political survival can’t afford to stand in the way of much of Trump’s agenda – after all, most of the voters back home want the things he’s proposing, actually bear fruit and wipe out a lot of the more moderate Democrats before Republicans even have to beat them, who’s going to be left to take the reins of power when the current Republican moment wears thin?
That’s what’s terrifying about “the resistance,” and it’s why the ongoing battle for the chairmanship of the Democrat Party is so unnerving. There are no responsible candidates for that job, and that party will be chaired by a radical. And if the only elected officials it turns out are the Nancy Pelosis, Barbara Boxers and Sheila Jackson Lees of the world, whose insane leftism matches that of voting majorities in political-outlier coastal states, when that pendulum does swing back to the Left we might look to Obama as a centrist in comparison.