There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it?
Liberal tears following Donald Trump’s ascendency to the presidency have turned into progressive outrage as the brash billionaire’s band of outsiders starts implementing a policy program that has so far lived up to his promise to “disrupt the system.”
This includes the banning of immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, the nomination of a conservative judge for the U.S. Supreme Court and the dismantling of several Obama-era regulations.
Of course, none of this should come as a surprise. Trump at one point or another literally said he would do everything he has done thus far. From his perspective, he’s just fulfilling campaign pledges. And a small sampling of reaction from his base has been positive.
For the left, such swift action that’s antithetical to everything they stand for is perhaps punishment for not taking Trump seriously prior to the election.
Yes, Trump was reviled by liberals, but not to the extent that could have helped mobilize efforts behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Her victory was in the bag, they thought. And in some quarters, it did not even matter who won. Bitter with how Sen. Bernie Sanders was treated in the Democratic primary, many progressives lamented that Clinton, a center-left technocrat, was no better than Trump.
Less than three weeks in, those folks just look silly. Clinton, for all her flaws, would not have issued a sloppily-written executive order banning immigration from certain countries. Nor would she have encouraged the repeal of Obamacare. And, she definitely would not have placed a white nationalist on the National Security Council. The list could go on and on.
Now, liberals — and all Americans for that matter — have no choice but to take Trump seriously. He is the president of the U.S., the most powerful man in the world, after all.
But those who have been paying attention may have noticed something: the shock is starting to wear off. The sadness is starting to subside. It’s giving way to anger.
To sum up the feeling of progressive America right now, it would be “mad. As. Hell.”
This is a president they view as illegitimate given Russian interference in the election. This is a president they view as, given his own words, a sexual predator. This is a president they view as a fundamental danger to democracy.
So less than three weeks into Trump’s presidency, millions across the country and around the world have taken to the streets to protest against him. First it was the Women’s March, which some have called the largest protest in American history. Next was a spontaneous gatherings at the nation’s airports to protest the immigration ban.
And perhaps less visible but extremely important, calls have flooded senate offices urging senators to vote against Trump’s cabinet nominees. In addition, congressmen have had to duck out of town hall meetings where angry constituents are demanding answers on the GOP’s plans for Obamacare.
There has been an awakening. Democrats are mobilized and organized. Too late to prevent Trump’s win — and it cannot be said enough that this was the biggest upset in American political history — but perhaps just in time to scuttle some of Trump’s agenda.
There have already been results: instead of outright repeal of Obamacare, Republicans are now talking of ‘repairing’ the healthcare law. Armed with record amounts of donations, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has successfully blocked Trump’s immigration ban in several courts around the country. And perhaps sensing a tsunami of backlash, the Trump Administration reneged on plans to rollback Obama-era protections for LGBTQ Americans.
Of course, this movement will not be able to stop everything. Republicans still control all three branches of government. With that will come the gutting of several environmental, financial and other ‘burdensome’ regulations.
And for all tough talk coming from the Democratic base, it is highly likely that Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, will be extended the courtesies Merrick Garland was denied, which in turn will lock in the court’s conservative majority for perhaps another generation.
But the power of an organized, lockstep minority cannot be underestimated. The only real comparison I can think of right now as the Tea Party’s opposition in 2009 to President Barack Obama’s agenda. They prevented a popular president with strong majorities in both the House and Senate from attaining many key campaign promises. And in 2010, they voted and managed to create a wave that rocked Washington.
It’s early, but there’s a similar feeling afoot on the other side of the aisle. The progressive movement has not been this organically energized in a long, long time. Heck, not even during the height of the Bush Administration’s failings were liberals this pissed off. Quite simply, they want blood.
Will this be a sustained effort? Will it ultimately achieve results at the ballot box?
These are important questions moving forward and will determine if this is a left wing equivalent to the Tea Party, which achieved massive success during Obama’s first term, or if this will be another Occupy Wall Street, which fizzled under its lack of a unifying message and disorganization.
Right now, the safe bet is on the former. The left may be a patchwork of factions and interest groups constantly at war with one another, but as Republicans learned under the Obama-era, a common enemy is as good an antidote to party disunity as anything.
United in their hatred of Trump, the progressive movement has found its voice once more. It may not be so obvious just yet, but it will be.