Zealous tribalism is a fine strategy to entice billionaire donors to waste more money—but it won’t help Democrats win elections.
The leaders of the Democratic Party and nearly every Democratic organization have attempted to use Donald Trump’s presidency as a fundraising and recruiting tool. The Democrats formulated “The Resistance” in hopes of rallying their support base against the Republican party. Trump’s cabinet nominations incited outrage and immense criticism, but when came down to voting for or against these nominees, Democrats have rolled over on their promises to “resist” Trump.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, who is supposed to be leading “the resistance” against Trump, has voted in favor of every Trump nominee so far. “Progressive” icon Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown voted in favor of Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development Secretary, both providing optimistic defenses of their votes. Fourteen Democrats voted in favor of Trump’s nominee for CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, including Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine. Additionally, Nikki Haley, General James Mattis, and General John Kelly breezed through their nominations. Surely this isn’t the resistance Democratic Party supporters had in mind.
Though Democrats don’t have the votes needed to filibuster any of Trump’s nominees, the Democratic Party leaders built up an expectation that Democrats would oppose Trump’s administration at every turn.
Their votes in favor of Trump’s nominees nullify their “resistance” rhetoric, which was in part fueled by the perceived dangers of Trump’s nominees. Now Democrats are more worried about their wealthy donors and fellow elitist bureaucrats than their party’s supporters.
So far, the Democratic Party is as bad at opposing a Trump presidency as they were in trying to defeat him in the general election. The only qualifying resistance that Democrats have exercised is resisting reform in their own party from Bernie Sanders‘ progressives. Last weekend, the candidates for DNC Chair attended a private retreat with the top Democratic Party donors to develop a strategy moving forward. There was no input from the progressive wing of the party, and this is a recurring theme in State and National Democratic Party leadership elections.
As Politico reported, “Many of the party’s top players flew south to discuss the path forward, and they committed to investing more in opposition research initiatives and war rooms, to pay more attention to state campaigns, and—in a popular decision among a crowd full of Hillary Clinton supporters and absent much Bernie Sanders support—to avoid further acrimony within the party.”
If the Democratic Party can’t accept what a bad strategy it was to market Hillary Clinton during an election in which voters were seeking an alternative to the status quo, there’s little hope that Democrats will have the wherewithal to stand up to Trump’s administration and figure out how to recoup their losses in the Republican-dominated Congress. Zealous tribalism in the form of “resistance” is a fine strategy to entice billionaire donors to waste more money and incite outrage among the establishment’s support base—but it won’t help the party to start winning elections again.