We know that Democrats cannot stand Donald Trump. They don’t simply oppose him. They don’t merely dislike his policies. They actually loathe him with seething, all-absorbing white-hot hatred. They will never forgive a brazen, outspoken, intemperate reality TV star like Donald Trump for snatching from the clutching hands of Hillary Clinton that which was rightfully hers.
My prediction that Democrats would eventually get over it and revert to more traditional political opposition was flatly wrong. In many ways, Democrats are even more hysterical today than they were immediately following the election.
I have friends whom I would nominally believe to be right-leaning Republicans who are also not on board with Donald Trump. (Not many, mind you. According to any number of polls, Trump’s approval among Republicans stands somewhere close to 90 percent.)
But there are still #NeverTrump Republicans and I know some of them. When I press them as to why, given Trump’s undeniable successes, the answer almost always boils down to his tweets.
“Not presidential,” my friends say. “Beneath the dignity of the office.” “Sinking to the level of his critics.” OK, fine, let’s say they’re right. The question then becomes; outgunned as Republicans are, how else can one expect to win and then, more importantly, effectively govern?
Indulge me please, in a baseball metaphor as I say that every Republican administration starts with an 0-2 count. That’s because Democrats own – lock, stock and barrel – the commanding heights of the culture. They dominate mainstream media, academia from kindergarten through college, the permanent federal bureaucracy, movies, music, theater, book publishing, high tech and social media.
Most Republicans are no match. Most Republicans, being human, do what they can to avoid snarky criticism of the sort that Democrats never have to endure. It’s called ‘playing to not lose’ and too many Republicans engage in it. We all remember Mitt Romney politely standing there in the second debate in 2012 with that strained smile on his face as CNN’s Candy Crowley effectively ended his campaign.
George W. Bush, a thoroughly good and decent man, left office in almost total disgrace – with approval numbers in the 20s – for the simple reason that he took withering incoming from the media and the late-night shows and chose to never once even attempt to return fire.
Donald Trump is no George Bush and he’s sure as hell no Mitt Romney. Trump almost never throws the first punch. But if one is thrown at him, he very quickly punches back. Though some of his Twitter fusillades have been a bit much, overall they’ve been effective. For the first time, it’s Democrats dealing with incoming fire.
We on the right have never seen this and sometimes it’s a bit unsettling. But it’s nevertheless, long overdue. Conservatism works every time it’s tried. The problem has been that it hasn’t been tried all that assiduously in a while.
By fighting back, Donald Trump has changed that. That’s a new thing for Republicans – and well worth the occasional discomforts.