Who Exactly Is “The Resistance”?

A certain brand of liberal chest-beater has proclaimed him or herself ready and willing to “resist” Trump. They are in no mood for compromise or collaboration; their posture will instead be rather warlike, where they oppose Trump at every juncture without compromise. What form this “resistance” will actually take remains unclear. Will they resort to extra-legal methods? Will they go outside the normal parameters of US politics?

Because that’s what “resistance” connotes. If your plan is to “resist” Trump by calling on senators to filibuster his legislative proposals, vote down all his cabinet appointments, and rally the “base” to frenetically object every time he does something, no matter how banal — you are basically describing the GOP’s posture toward Obama circa 2009–2010. That was an unusual strategy in certain respects; you might even term it “massive resistance.” But it all fell well within the bounds of ordinary US politics. Or at least, it didn’t transgress “norms” in the sense of introducing methods of “resistance” that weren’t already available.

“Resistance” gives the impression of being willing to lay oneself on the line for one’s ideals. If I join “The Resistance,” I would seem to be accepting a level of personal, physical risk, but because I am so devoted to my cause, I am at peace with this. Is that what Neera Tanden, for instance, is trying to communicate?

If you go around proclaiming yourself “The Resistance” but you’re not willing to incur any actual personal risk — you’re just going to continue angrily tweeting, for the most part — then you’re just a vapid grandstander. And you don’t really believe your own rhetoric, which has long been a truism when it comes to the contradictions of many anti-Trump advocates.

Neera Tanden makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year running a Think Tank that was this close to serving as the White House-In-Waiting. She just spent years as a high-level advisor to Hillary, and her organization incubated all the policy functionaries that they were just sure would soon fill the incoming administration. I don’t think Neera Tanden is the type of person who’s going to be out at the forefront of any resistance movement. She’ll live a pretty comfortable life, Trump or no Trump. Rather, I think she’s the type to appropriate the iconography and rhetoric of “resistance” to give herself a sheen of populist anger, when in actuality she represents the exact opposite.

Neera is the avatar of a failed liberal establishment — she’s the one who needs to be “resisted.”

None of this is to say that Trump’s authoritarian excesses ought not to be counteracted — of course they should. But doing that effectively requires rationality, circumspection, and diligence. Neera embodies none of those traits. If she’s the one leading any “resistance” movement, then “The Resistance” is going to get steamrolled.

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