Since Inauguration Day, that single word has become the mantra of much of the opposition towards the Trump administration. The American people have borne witness to protest after protest. They have listened to pundits and office holders vow to reflexively obstruct the Republican agenda. They still seem unaware of creating a path forward for the citizens that voted against Donald Trump.
The instinct to organize and protest has done little more than harden partisan lines. The Democratic Party has done a horrific job of distinguishing Trump’s most damaging tendencies from that of a mainstream right-wing agenda, expressing equal amounts of outrage at Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination, the immigration ban or Steve Bannon’s appointment to the National Security Council.
This is ineffective in two ways. First, it cloaks justified criticism of the Trump administration’s antics in an air of partisanship. Not only does this throw away an opportunity to unite with ideological factions across the aisle, but it also lowers what should be a universalized criticism of Trump’s darker tendencies to the realm of routine party politics. A sizeable portion of Americans can no longer be assumed to adequately appreciate the importance of a liberal democracy.
A civic restoration needs to take place that reinvigorates our governing institutions and reminds the population of the importance and origin of our shared constitutional liberties.
So far, the only person who has advanced this line of argumentation has been Utah independent Evan McMullin. The crises our nation might soon face rise above the Democratic and Republican parties, but if the American left cannot move beyond the self-satisfying posture of obstructionism the country as a whole loses.
While it might feel validating to jam the wheels of government as the GOP irresponsibly did for eight years, it gets the nation nowhere and lends the creation of a “boy who cried wolf” phenomenon when such united opposition is genuinely needed.
Secondly, the Democratic Party needs to resist the temptation to perpetually indulge in this posture of protest if it hopes to become electorally competitive again. Creating a party that doubles-down on progressively drifting further leftward will only continue to alienate independent voters.
Without a pursuit of the median voter, there is little hope to help Democratic candidates at the local level or change the fact that the only lever of “power” Democrats currently hold is a senate minority.
The Democratic Party needs to undergo an honest appraisal of what portions of its platform don’t sell to the average voter, and become the champion of universal American values.
We aren’t going to see that unification come from the White House.