In the days and weeks following the election of Donald Trump, a massive groundswell of anger against the new administration swept the nation. Since then, the opposition has had a hard time organizing. Numerous competing groups are vying for the political power that comes with such an intense level of emotion.
Perhaps the largest and most powerful of these groups feeding off the opposition is the Democratic Party. The party seems to want to harness it to regain some of the thousand seats they have lost in the past decade with their “#Resistance.”
Yet, the Democrats may be poor stewards for such a movement. In many ways they offer little change from the Republican line. For example, they accepted without argument a nearly $700 billion defense budget proposed by the GOP last September. And this is to say nothing of their wholehearted if not extremely vocal support of corporate welfare in the form of things like stimulus packages and institutions like the Export-Import Bank.
Not only that, but the Democrats seem to hold a disturbing tendency to back out of controversial Progressive commitments when the chips are down. This was proved when Baltimore’s Mayor Catherine Pugh ignored a campaign promise to support a living wage by vetoing a $15 minimum wage bill last March.
But the issues do not stop with their present policy; the Democratic Party seems to be headed in the complete opposite direction of forming a “Resistance.” This was indicated as early as this February, when the party declined Senator Bernie Sanders’ challenge to move left by appointing the corporatist Tom Perez to chairman over the progressive Keith Ellison. However, this move was loudly and clearly determined as early as the 2016 Democratic National Convention when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer outlined the party’s electoral strategy.
“For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia,” he declared in a clear challenge to the Sanders supporting faction, “and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”
The opposite, of course, proved to be true. “Moderate Republicans” voted with the real Republicans and many blue-collar Democrats, abandoned by their party, were left with no one to vote for at all. Thus, Trump carried working class districts even in supposedly deep-blue states.
This decision to pursue mythical Republican moderates instead of left-leaning Democrats or independents is frankly what produced Trump in the first place. How exactly can a party resist something that they themselves were complicit in creating? Furthermore, how can they defeat Trump without addressing the internal failings that allowed him to win in the first place? They cannot and they will not.
If this tendency continues, the United States will see progressive organizations eclipse the Democratic Party as the effective “Resistance” to the Conservative government, as groups ranging from the Democratic Socialists of America to the Green Party absorb the disenfranchised base of the old party.
At the moment it seems these progressive groups remain fractured and without serious direction. However, should these groups find some sort of unity and common direction they could prove to be a revolutionary force in American politics, providing something not seen in nearly half a century that the establishment simply cannot deal with: a truly different sort of political perspective.