According to Gallup, the average presidential honeymoon lasts seven months. This is a window when the losing party declares a partisan peace, allows the incoming president to pick his cabinet and launch the agenda his victory mandates. Presidential honeymoons are not only a venerable American tradition they are one of democracy’s pillars. For generations they have been ceremonial supports for the peaceful transition of power, and the peaceful resolution of partisan conflicts.
Not this election year. There will be no honeymoon. This year even before Trump arrives in the Oval Office, the opposition cry has been Resist! Block! Reject! It is not just anti-American radicals like Michael Moore, who has indeed called for “100 days of resistance” to the Trump presidency, but by the leadership of the Democratic Party which has vowed to fight Trump’s appointments, has attacked the election result as an expression of popular racism, attempted to discredit the Electoral College by falsely calling it a legacy of slavery, and even accused Trump of being a Russian agent, a pawn in the chess game of its dictator Vladimir Putin. It is a sad day for America when the world’s oldest political party, whose name proclaims it a partisan of democracy, comes out in force as a saboteur of that same system.
Nor is all this simply a fit of Democratic absent-mindedness. Instead, it is the culmination of a long developing shift in Democratic Party politics, a shift symbolized by the current favorite to become its next leader. Keith Ellison is a Muslim radical who spent his formative adult years as a vocal supporter of the anti-American, anti-Semitic racist Louis Farrakhan. Ellison reflects the power of the Bernie Sanders radicals in the Democratic Party who according to recent Gallup polls now represent its majority, even though they lost a rigged primary election which would have made him the party’s presidential nominee.
The face of this new Democratic Party was revealed during a seminal moment in the second Clinton-Trump presidential debate. It came when Trump turned to the cameras and said, “Hillary has tremendous hatred in her heart.” He was referring to her now notorious statement that half of Trump’s supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables,” which was followed by her iteration of those she had in mind: “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”
What made this moment pivotal was that the slurs were not an idiosyncratic tic of the Democratic standard-bearer and leader of the party’s “moderate” wing. They were the logical expression of the identity politics that had become the party’s creed. If every political issue and conflict is reduced to a conflict of races, genders and ethnic origins this inevitably leads to the demonization of the opposition as racist, sexist … deplorable. It is this mentality that has swallowed the Democratic Party and caused it to view politics not as an art of compromise but as a war against the indecent and the irredeemable. There can be no more succinct summary of what the Democrats’ rejection of the traditional presidential honeymoon is about.
Nonetheless, what was most significant in the presidential debate was Trump’s readiness to confront Hillary to her face and describe her attack for what it was: hate. It was the kind of indiscreet character description that had become a signature reflex of Trump’s campaign. Never before had one presidential candidate so bluntly confronted another. Never had any Republican dared to characterize a Democratic opponent in such damning moral terms before a national audience.
This why the attempt to reverse the election result, block Trump’s appointments and cripple his agendas will fail. Other Republicans faced with such extreme attacks on their appointments would have thrown many of them under the bus. But Trump himself has been the target of such attacks from the outset of his campaign. The reason he has been so attacked has been his readiness to confront head on what is called “political correctness” but what is in fact a party line demonizing anyone who challenges it as a racist, sexist, Islamophobic — deplorable.
This is the revolution that Trump represents. It will succeed or fail on whether the American people are ready to reject the racial, gender and ethnic divisiveness that has become the policy of the Democratic Party; whether they are ready to restore the American social contract that regards individuals on their merits, regardless of race, color or creed. In short it will succeed or fail on whether they are ready to make America great again.