Opposition to Trump is NOT Partisan Bias
He’s loathed because he’s ruining the American Presidency.
Donald Trump has been described as the Teflon President. From the moment he announced his candidacy on June 16th, 2015, he has been strangely immune to the fallout of his own behavior. During his campaign, many remarked on this bizarre ability to evade consequences. They noted that any one of Trump’s scandals would have brought down any other candidate in the running for the Presidency, and they weren’t wrong. Entire campaigns have collapsed over orders of magnitude less.
Trump’s ability to shed even the most valid criticism remains a potent reality of his tenure as President so far. He has shredded norms, vilified legal residents, mocked the disabled, impugned longstanding American institutions, insulted the intelligence community, denigrated members of the United States military, vilified Gold Star families, lamented America’s free press, personally profited from the Office of the Presidency, committed adultery numerous times, and committed a litany of serious blunders too numerous to list — all with few consequences. The President is mired in scandals that should crater public opinion about him, and yet his approval rating hovers at around 40%.
There is seemingly nothing that Donald Trump can say or do that will reduce the right’s opinion about him, even as he constantly lowers the bar on what it means to be “presidential.”
Respect, Decorum, Prestige, Civility, Dignity…
These are words that cannot be associated with Trump’s Presidency. The man is fundamentally not Presidential. To his supporters, that’s his biggest selling point. They have championed his ability to “tell it like it is”, lauding antics from a sitting President that would be more at home in a children’s schoolyard. There is little consideration from these loyalists about the precedent Trump is setting. He has changed what it means to behave like the leader of the free world to such an extent that anyone who follows him is now effectively immune from any criticism, and he has diminished America’s standing in the world as a direct result.
Gone are the days when a President had to be stable. Consistency is no longer customary nor required. There is no expectation for wisdom, intelligence, or even a moments regard for any decision being made. Subordinates are fired on a whim, even via Twitter. Policy decisions are announced without consulting the rest of the White House. The Presidency has been reduced to a misogynistic wet dream, where being reactive is more revered than any well considered response. This evaporation of basic decorum is the single most off-putting thing about Donald Trump as President, and while it should garner universal condemnation, it too is ignored by the vast majority of the right.
All Criticism is Partisan Criticism
Trump’s ability to evade consequences is a side effect of our extremely divided political reality. The overwhelming majority of the right automatically presumes that anything that goes against Donald Trump must be rooted in partisan bias. It doesn’t matter that classic debates over policy aren’t the reason for most people’s disdain. (For the most part, we aren’t debating policy at all.) Valid questions about the legality of Trump’s past and his strange subservience to Russia are dismissed outright as the unfair criticisms of a Republican President.
In effect, Trump wields his “Republican” party affiliation like a shield, using it to deflect valid criticism as irrelevant partisan noise. To his proponents, it isn’t that he himself has a history of grifting and wrongdoing that goes back decades. His potential for criminality to preserve his own lucrative interests isn’t a factor. In their minds, unreasonable partisans are unfairly attacking him for purely partisan reasons.
It’s a strange sort of amnesia to have about a man like Donald Trump. We’ve known who he was since at least the 1990’s. Nothing about his decades worth of history in the public eye ever suggested a man who would be capable of being a good President. He was a womanizing opportunist who made his fortune screwing over anyone he could, lauding as virtue a trait he revered as “The Art of the Deal.”
Trump Still Has Widespread Republican Support
Trump’s ability to deflect all criticism among the right isn’t a small factor, and it makes the notion of an “inevitable” #BlueWave extremely dangerous. If even the most valid criticism is chalked up as the unhinged ravings of partisans, then Republicans will still show up to vote for Trump and any candidate that supports him. Recent special elections prove this. Democrats have won on razor-thin margins, even as the GOP’s point-loss as compared to 2016 gives the left a palpable sense of dangerous overconfidence.
If those interested in stopping Trump want to remove him from office, they will need to stop resting on dated laurels. To most people on the right, it is not obvious that Trump is an unalloyed danger to America, especially among those who still believe that Democrats are even worse.
Ratcheting up the hyperbole and divisive rhetoric might feel good in response to that, but it only adds to the partisan noise. If we can focus instead on Trump’s lacking fitness for the Office of the Presidency, that might go much further toward showing people that it isn’t the Republican in Trump that we despise. It is an endless myriad of behaviors that are fundamentally unbecoming of the President of the United States. ■