What many Democrats have feared since the beginning of the presidential election has come to be: we are now living in Trump’s America. The controversial yet popular president has taken charge of the White House just as the House and Senate have come under complete Republican control. For Democrats, and those who lean left, this means existing in a political sphere that is almost entirely single-party and conservative. This means that the Trump administration, and the GOP for that matter, have a tight grip on the government and will have little resistance when it comes to policy making.
Many Democrats, especially those who have been in the party for the majority of their lives, are feeling forlorn. They have endured the controversies of Bill Clinton, the triumphs and missteps of Barack Obama, and the strife and failure shared equally between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. They have seen it all, but whatever changes they created will be put into question as the GOP begins to reintroduce itself to the White House. Our new president is not like presidents of the past; it seems that President Trump has thrown caution to the wind.
In the few days after the inauguration Trump’s administration fervently begun to push for reforms. Since taking office, Trump has initiated multiple executive orders that coincide with his “Contract with the American Voter” plan, which was introduced last October and detailed the first 100 days of his presidency. Many of these orders, such as repealing the Affordable Care Act and expediting the approval of the Dakota Access and Keystone Oil Pipelines, have left Democrats feeling uneasy. Trump’s presidency already appears to be undoing many of what the left consider to be Obama’s shining achievements.
This rapid transformation the government is experiencing has jilted the left and offered them a minute amount of spaced to operate within. So what is next for the American Democrat?
Democrats first and foremost need to focus on the good of their country instead of on the good of their party. Controversy rocked the left during the primaries as they focused too intently on political ties and etiquette instead of on which candidate would be best to seek the presidency. In the end Clinton received the nomination but the division between her supporters and those who still endorsed Sanders was palpable, and the cracks in the party stood in stark contrast to the semi-unified Republican base. Yes, Trump was a controversial nominee, but Republican and swing voters flocked to him like no other candidate. This led many Democrats to focus entirely on the strength of their party rather than the decisions that it was making. This heavy focus on the party’s reputation alienated many Democrats who wanted to deal with the rising threat from the right, especially after Clinton’s campaign went into full swing. The Democratic Party made some decisions that not every leftist agreed with, such as promoting Clinton as the “lesser evil” instead of acknowledging her flaws and moving forward. It felt too forced, too much like the party was taking the easy route. This left a bad taste in the mouths of voters.
Focusing on the good of the country instead of the reputation of the party will eventually cause the Democrats to rise in popularity. Although Clinton received the majority of popular votes, her campaign focused on Trump’s weaknesses more than her strengths, and certainly more than explaining or apologizing for past issues. Her campaign avoided acknowledging more than just the email scandal, and this created an air of dishonesty that the nominee could not shake. Now that Trump is in office, the Democrats need to focus on rebuilding the trust many voters lost for the party.
This means that the left only needs to vote against a policy or bill if it truly is not in the best interest of America, rather than voting against it for the primary reason that it was pushed by the GOP. This also means that those who are against Trump need to stick to protesting and defying only what truly needs to be overturned, and (hopefully) not every decision the president makes will call for those measures. Political activism is one of the greatest things about our country, but Trump’s presidency has just begun. Becoming jaded so quickly about anything and everything will leave no energy for the time, if it comes, that the administration really begins to cross the line. This does not mean that giving up is an option, however. If Trump truly is committing the moral and political horrors that many Democrats have claimed, then the left and its allies need to push back during the entirety of his presidency. If his administration is hurting Americans, or damaging the American spirit, then Democrats need to do what is best for their country. They need to leave the party etiquette and reputation obsession behind to protect the values of America, and only if the values are truly in danger.
The space that Democrats have to work in might be small, but together they can rebuild their party and push back against Republican policies that do not represent the best interest of the people.
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