Expect liberals to continue trying to delegitimize Trump’s victory, despite repeated failure. The only thing that changes in liberals’ long-term effort is their motivation: It now switches from election strategy to survival’s necessity. Simply: If liberals cannot effectively undermine Trump’s presidency, they risk losing far more than November’s election.
The over-reported prospect of an Electoral College rebellion against Trump came and went. It became another opportunity to add insult to liberals’ injury; Clinton’s electoral vote defeat margin swelled, as she wound up suffering more “faithless electors” than Trump did. However, while this was the most focal of their efforts, it was far from the only one.
The post-election press has reverberated with liberals’ wishful thinking that by delegitimizing Trump, they can define away their own failures.
The Washington Post has served as a prime vintner of the left’s sour grapes. On December 7, it published a piece by Clinton’s former communications director that raised the racist charge once more: “I don’t know whether the Trump campaign needed to give a platform to white supremacists to win. But the campaign clearly did, and it had the effect of empowering the white-nationalist movement.”
Not content with rehashing liberals’ racist libel, the Post found room for former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta to blame defeat on the FBI and Russia a week later: “Comparing the FBI’s massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI.”
Capping off the left’s “Trumper tantrum” was MSNBC host Chris Hayes who explained what the left has been, and intends to continue, doing: “Isn’t the answer here that sustained efforts at total delegitimization, no matter how deranged, is actually the path back to power?”
Before the election, once liberals took Trump’s candidacy seriously, there were concerted attempts to delegitimize it. Not the first, but certainly the most notable, was Clinton’s own unguarded comment about putting “half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.” However, their delegitimizing efforts went well beyond this.
Before the election, liberals tried to attach Trump’s candidacy to the alt-right movement. Obama and a host of White House surrogates also expressly declared Trump unqualified for the presidency.
After the monumental upset, the left shifted their tactics but not their delegitimizing strategy. They labeled the Electoral College arcane and archaic, blaming it for thwarting Clinton’s popular vote lead. They also supported targeted recounts by third party candidate Jill Stein.
None of their many efforts proved to be any more successful — or any less transparent — than their “faithless elector” gambit. But still liberals have kept them coming. And they will continue to — even when there is nothing more to contest. They will, not just because liberals “cannot help themselves,” but because liberals are now desperately trying to save themselves.
Delegitimizing Trump started as an electoral strategy but has now become a survival necessity. Without reversing the political dynamics that elected Trump, liberals risk seeing these merging with even stronger congressional and state ones.
Going into 2016, liberals had cultivated the prevailing narrative that Republicans’ quest for the presidency had become hopeless. Projecting off Obama’s two consecutive victories with popular vote majorities — the first time a Democrat had done this since FDR — they claimed Republicans were now demographically and geographically blocked from winning the White House.
Now post-November, presidential politics look very different. Suddenly it is liberals and their Democratic Party vehicle that look shaky. No thanks to the Republican establishment, by blazing a geographic trail to America’s center-right majority, Trump has revealed a possibility unseen since Reagan.
Despite following Obama, Hillary Clinton discovered demography and geography were not the “Democratic automatics” liberals had claimed. Worse, if they are not, Republicans could be positioned to add the presidency to their control of Congress and state governments.
From 1932 to 1994, Republican majorities in Congress were short-lived aberrations. Since 1994, they have been the rule. From 1932-1992, Republicans won control of the House in only two Congresses and the Senate in just five. From 1994-2016, Republicans have won the House 10 times and the Senate seven times.
In state governments, Republican power is even greater. They control 33 governorships and 68 of the 99 legislative bodies. Together, these give them total control of 25 states. Democrats have functional control of just 5 states.
Despite liberals’ bravado throughout 2016, their hold on American politics was already tenuous below the presidential level. They were a congressional minority and an even heavier one at the state level. The presidency — and more specifically, Obama’s presidency — was their last and most important bastion.
Their belief was that Obama’s election was destiny — that geography and demography had bequeathed Democrats the presidency. As a result, they were complicit in Obama aggrandizing White House power like never before in peacetime.
November has refuted liberals’ belief that they were destined to control the White House. And it has turned America’s most powerful office — an office they acquiesced in Obama’s making it far more powerful — against them. More importantly, it opened a path for Republicans to further their power in the states and their alignment with America’s ideological majority to future presidential races.
Donald Trump’s impending inauguration only adds urgency to liberals’ delegitimizing efforts. Simply going from “Donald Trump” to “President Trump” will enhance his stature for millions of Americans not already in his corner, but desirous of seeing him, and the nation, succeed. Time will only magnify the effect — as will his successes in office. Further, his ability to circumvent the filter of the liberal media gives him an enormous opportunity to shape public perception.
Liberals now must act quickly and aggressively. if they are to try to stop a process over which they are already having less control. Having failed when Trump was more vulnerable to their delegitimizing efforts, liberals see their chances diminishing quickly over the short-term — and perhaps over the long-term, too. Their future certainly looks bleaker than the one they were recently predicting for Trump and Republicans.