This morning, I read an incredibly shrewd and astute piece in the Washington Post by Tom Nichols. In the column, Nichols eloquently argued that the left’s collective meltdown over every action taken by President Trump, as well as their subsequent methods of opposing whatever the latest outrage is, are actually harmful to the very goals which they hope to achieve.
There is plenty of fuel for the president’s critics in these actions, yet Trump’s opponents — especially in the media — seem determined to overreact on even ordinary matters. This is both unwise and damaging to our political culture. America needs an adversarial press and a sturdy system of checks and balances. Unmodulated shock and outrage, however, not only burn precious credibility among the president’s opponents, but eventually will exhaust the public and increase the already staggering amount of cynicism paralyzing our national political life.
In a single paragraph, Tom Nichols successfully conveys exactly what many of us have tried to tell our friends on the left. However, the question remains: will they listen? It is too early to tell.
During the Obama years, the term “Obama derangement syndrome” came to be applied to many of us on the right when we would disagree and argue against something that then President Obama did. The term applied to how no matter what Obama did in office, the right would be blinded by their dislike of him and therefore oppose any action taken. It hindered our ability to effectively oppose President Obama on several of his more controversial policies and moves, as we were viewed as crying wolf.
Today, the left is in the exact same position.
Everything President Trump does or touches, in the mind of the left, is somehow dastardly or sinister. Every single policy proposal or nomination he makes is somehow unacceptable. On top of that, his actions are dangerous and producing a “constitutional crisis.”
The left does not vocally oppose what Trump does because of the merits, but because of Trump himself. Yes, there are actions and policies that the White House has taken that Democrats have opposed because they do not agree with the president based upon political principle. However, chances are that when the left heard the action before acquiring detailed knowledge of what it actually entailed, they reflexively said it was wrong. Their sheer dislike of President Trump blinds them.
Furthermore, the left’s Trump Derangement Syndrome has them making arguments against President Trump by using falsehoods. Take Trump’s immigration executive order issued just over a week ago. Immediately, after it was signed, Democrats began mislabeling it as a “Muslim ban.” Why? Because it was a public relations tactic in order to stoke fear that would drive Americans to the left’s side. In reality, the “Muslim ban” was anything but. Over forty majority Muslim nations were neither subject to nor impacted by this executive order (including the most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia). Their citizens could enter the United States as they pleased. Of course, the left had no desire to note this or that this impacted only seven nations. They had other areas of the executive order which they could oppose on the merits, but chose not to do so.
They then took the so-called “Monday Night Massacre,” the firing of the acting attorney general, as some sort of impeachable defense. They compared it to President Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre, where he fired the attorney general for refusing to fire the special prosecutor who was investigating his presidency. The former is nowhere near the latter, as Nixon’s move was a true abuse of power while Trump’s was within the scope of the office.
Nonetheless, Democrats began their hyperventilations once more and started to levy the charge that the United States was in the middle of a constitutional crisis. The left seems to believe that if President Trump does something, it is all part of his unconstitutional and unchecked abuse of executive power. It is not, but their Trump Derangement Syndrome prevents them from seeing the truth.
The reality is that America is currently experiencing quite the opposite of a constitutional crisis. We are witnessing our system of checks and balances working. The Federal Courts are doing exactly as the Founding Fathers intended: providing a check on the executive branch by playing the umpire. As a nation, we should be celebrating the proof that our great Republic is fully-functioning, but, alas, we are not.
Now, we see those in opposition to President Trump organizing just like the Tea Party did in 2009. They are forming political organizations that, as I noted in the New York Times last month, will impact elections and policy over the next few years (and perhaps beyond). However, they will only be truly meaningful movements if they find themselves cured of their Trump Derangement Syndrome.
If the left were willing to judge every action of President Trump on the merits and to give credit where credit is due, they would then find their ability to oppose the president greatly enhanced.