The Democrats’ First 100 Days As The ‘Party of Never’
Without burning American flags or overturning a single car, Republicans over the last eight years were frequently lambasted in the media for opposing President Barack Obama’s agenda. Their tactic? Win elections and exercise constitutionally-allocated power.
Over the past 100 days, Democrats have similarly chosen to oppose a president of the opposition party. Since institutional leverage had been withheld from them by the electorate, their strategy has included protests on the floor of the Senate and House, weeping press conferences, quiet acquiesce to violent demonstrations and division based on race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin and gender.
The 100-day mark of a new presidency always engenders reflection from the political class critiquing the achievements and failures of the incoming administration. In addition, a report card could — and should — be made of the same time period for what has developed into the permanent opposition to President Donald Trump.
If the Republicans were called the “party of no” under President Obama, Democrats under President Trump have in a brief timeframe earned a new moniker as the “party of never.” Forming a perpetual and immediate impediment to the Trump Presidency — beginning with an election that was contested on every legal and extra-legal front possible — Democrats have shown that even when our political contests are decided they will roadblock not just a duly-elected president but two duly-elected chambers of Congress, the Supreme Court and the very document that gives each of them power.
Since January 20th, Democrats have become something they have often over the past half-century criticized the GOP for being: They have become angry. They are a party directed by rage and consumed with fighting the battles of elections past because of a disbelief that their agenda could possibly be rejected by the voters.
When Democrats won both houses of Congress in 2006, they were giddy with power and unafraid to wield it. When they couldn’t, President George W. Bush was a convenient foil. In 2008, as the party retained control of Congress and added the White House to the list, even Rahm Emanuel smiled briefly.
Before Democrats began the current unending castigation of Republicans wielding power in the same institutions, they would have been wise to glance towards their own manipulation of similar powers during those years when they possessed them. From President Obama’s overuse of executive orders as legislative tools to Harry Reid’s nuclear option on appointments in 2013, the devices utilized by the GOP today are a result, in many cases, of actions taken by Democratic leaders long before Donald Trump took the oath of office 100 days ago. The applause from the past has come back to haunt the present.
The tactic of the movement against Trump and the GOP can be summed up in one sign prominently displayed at the Berkeley riots in February that were initiated when a libertarian author had been invited to speak. “Become Ungovernable,” the sign read. Judging by the recent strategy of the Democratic Party, it’s as if they wrote it. The panorama of the left has become dominated by sanctuary cities, where laws can be replaced by feelings, and sanctuary campuses, where only like-minded thinking will be tolerated in safe spaces. Calls for impeachment from Reps. Maxine Waters and Keith Ellison have been a celebrated rallying cry for the left. While many of us have been taught it is not a good idea to make choices when we’re mad, Democrats are attempting to run the country that way.
Yet few decisions by the party since Trump took office show the utter hypocrisy in the party’s intransigence than the commitment to oppose and then filibuster the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. The choice encompassed all the Democrats had allegedly stood against since Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly in February of last year.
“The cases before the Supreme Court are too important to go months without a justice,” said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in March of 2016. “We owe it to the American people to hold hearings and vote on the nomination.” The obligation and demand that the Senate “do its job” — Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer were just two of many Democrats echoing the near-universal refrain — evaporated when President Obama left office. Despite their protestations of the upper chamber’s inaction in 2016 relating to the failed nomination of Merrick Garland, only three Democrats voted against a filibuster of Gorsuch in 2017. The Senators from New York weren’t among them.
Protestors can blame Russia or the FBI or Anthony Weiner for their losses last November but selecting Congressional leaders like Schumer and Nancy Pelosi is a continued reflection of the myopic and coastal-centered vision of a party that used to stand on principle but today just stands for power. Instead of figuring out a way to create a positive agenda for the future or a way to work with those who actually have power in Washington, they are doubling down on the rage. And the country is suffering for it.
In spite of the discord, party loyalists celebrate the friction conjured at every utterance of the president and congressional Republicans. Liberals are keeping track amongst their own as to who has and who hasn’t been punching their outrage ticket. The farthest reaches of the left, those who wield disproportionate influence in deciding their party’s nominees, seem poised to reward the obstruction in midterm elections just nineteen months away.
The average citizen, however, those who actually decide elections, isn’t so convinced. They tire of the drawn-out election cycle. They seek stability and even a brief pause in the tactics of the left for governing.
Although the political rewards for the type of conflict politics we have witnessed since mid-January will be shortsighted, they will, regrettably, continue. In the near, they will serve to rally the partisan crowd, reverberate in the echo chamber and win nominations. In the end, however, they will contribute to a continued loss of support in general elections where the voters think more about the future for their families and neighbors than 100-day scorecards.