The Democratic reaction to Nov. 8 has featured three successive, overlapping phases.
First, an emotional meltdown somewhat akin to a child throwing a temper tantrum; second, the cobbling together of a psychologically congenial narrative to explain it all (racism, sexism, Comey, the Russians, etc.); and now, with Donald Trump actually having assumed the presidency, efforts to construct a mass-based resistance, a left-wing version in some respects of the Tea Party.
The problem comes in seeing how any of this is actually helping, in the sense of either hurting Trump or enhancing support for Democrats. Indeed, and as many have noted, so much of the liberal reaction to Trump's victory can be used to explain why he won in the first place.
Even if Trump were the misogynist, racist monster of leftist depiction, what, apart from providing us with an example of petulance and bad manners, was accomplished by more than 60 Democratic members of Congress boycotting his inauguration? And how did that make Democrats look better and Trump worse?
Trump isn't an "illegitimate" president for the simple reason that he won by the rules that everyone knew were in effect before Nov. 8. That he carried Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by only 100,000 cumulative votes doesn't matter. Nor does Hillary Clinton's popular-vote margin or any personal loathing for the new president many of us might share.
Like it or not, Trump is now "our" president in the same sense as George W. Bush and Barack Obama were and there is no political advantage to be acquired by pretending otherwise.
Those of us who didn't vote for him, and probably never will barring the invention of personality transplant technology, can understand the pain, but boycotting the inaugural is less a gesture of opposition to Trump than an expression of disrespect for the office of the presidency and the broader American democratic process that determines who occupies it.
As citizens we have the privilege of voting in elections, but after those votes are counted, the winners don't become legitimate or illegitimate depending upon whether we like them or not. And one cannot embrace democracy on a selective basis, accepting it when it produces results we favor but rejecting it on the occasions it doesn't.
In purely political terms, one also has to wonder how Democratic actions since the election enhance the party's appeal among those 63 million voters who cast their ballots for Trump. If Democrats need to improve their performance in places like Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, how does boycotting the inauguration of the president those states gave their electoral votes to help?
If disdain and contempt for those who don't agree with them is a great liberal weakness, to the point of contributing to the election of Trump and the devastation of the Democratic Party at all levels of government in recent years, why are liberals now so eager to double down in their expressions of disdain and contempt? And is the degree of obliviousness so great that they are incapable of understanding that when you call a man a fascist you are calling his supporters fascists as well?
As bad as Trump can be, the hunch is that most Americans, even many who didn't vote for him or belonged to the "Never Trump" camp from the beginning, are appalled when Madonna talks about blowing up the White House and airhead celebrities drop "f-bombs" at protest marches.
Even the term "resistance" is inappropriate in the present context because it suggests the kind of lack of rightful authority found in dictatorships and thereby corrodes the civic bonds that should unite all Americans, regardless of partisan loyalties. Whatever else it is, the Trump administration most certainly isn't the Third Reich, and Americans are not living in occupied France circa 1942.
People have historically staged protests against dictatorships or rigged elections, but it is unprecedented to see them occur in a stable democracy before the moving vans have left the White House and for the sole reason that the protesters' candidate didn't win.
For my part, I am far less terrified of a President Trump, appropriately and thankfully hemmed in by our system of checks and balances, than I am by a hysterical "resistance" to him that suggests power should be shifted from the ballot box to unsavory mobs in the streets.
In the end, the "not my president" campaign can only be explained by liberal vanity; more precisely, the liberal need to demonstrate moral superiority and prove that they are above the unwashed clingers in flyover country. However self-defeating its results, it is more about "virtue signaling" to other members of the tribe than about public policy or even politics, traditionally defined.
Having lost its grasp on all the levers of political power, and with no actual program or ideas to advance, the left is left only with futile posturing.
So by all means, go ahead and oppose whatever Trump does, regardless of its merits. And keep marching and waving those "not our president" placards.
Your liberal friends will admire you.
Then you can all sit back and watch Trump get re-elected and the Democratic Party lose another thousand or so offices across the country.
Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.
Editorial on 01/30/2017
Print Headline: How to re-elect Trump