I’m consistently asked this question by bewildered Republicans and Trump supporters: Why won’t Democrats give President Trump a chance? He was duly elected and yet the attacks began immediately. Why? There was an election and Trump won. Give him a chance.
It’s a reasonable question. And the answer is the perfect confluence of dynamics propelling this phenomena of immediate and historically intense opposition.
First, we need to understand that the response by Democrats, the media and the reactionary, organized and funded street Left, needs to be seen through the prism of why Trump was elected in the first place.
Trump’s campaign and election is a repudiation in every conceivable way of Obama’s policies, many of Bush’s policies and Congress’ game-playing. Many Americans did mediocre under Bush, and most did poorly under Obama. The reasons for which are a different topic, but they fall under the broadest umbrella of “The way Washington does things.” And the way Washington does things is to put Washington interests first. Not Americans’.
Trump tapped into those frustrations and angers at Washington, and into substantial American anxiety over the country’s direction and slow demise. The anger of Trump supporters was largely not race-based. Not immigrant-based. Obviously not gender-based.
It was Washington-based.
The swamp today
Washington is a well-oiled machine — for Washington interests.
The power structure within Washington — the most important, wealthy and powerful capitol in the world — is this: Politicians, beginning with the President and Congress; political appointees, starting with Cabinet members, then their deputies and so on; lobbyists, who are often former members of Congress and former political appointees (that’s the revolving door Trump is trying to close); and finally, the entrenched bureaucracy that makes a solid living by the tens of thousands, often accomplishing little more than self-perpetuating. The leaks damaging to Trump and appointees is coming from this final group.
The Washington metro area never suffered through the long recession and economic downturn that the rest of the country did. It never does. Because the billions of dollars — trillions, actually — just keep pouring into the Capitol.
This is the swamp that hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters chanted about at his campaign stops across the country.
When Trump was elected, he immediately set about keeping the promises he made over and over on the campaign trail. Draining would commence. That in itself is shocking, as it has long been accepted — by the media and “smart” circles, not so much the rest of America — that Republicans and Democrats alike say a lot of things during a campaign to get elected that we all know — wink, wink — they do not intend to act on.
This is the bait and switch. Clinton was never going to provide a middle class tax cut. Bush was never going to cut entitlements. Obama was never going to block gay marriage. The media knows it and is part of the act.
This Beltway acceptance of lying to the American people in “campaign mode” reflects the elite’s expectation that the masses are stupid enough to not see it during governing mode. That’s also how Washington works. But the people saw it, and found someone they believed would do what he said. The results are in. Trump is setting about the draining.
The establishment of both parties was rocked on their keisters by Trump’s election. His campaign mode is the same as his governing mode in terms of doing what he said he would. His quick actions on promises to start undoing the Washington that does not work for most Americans was like poking a mama grizzly in her den with her cubs.
Reaction was swift, from demonstrations without to leaks from within. The small minority of Republicans publicly opposing Trump gave cover to Democrats to go to unexplored extremes, beyond the normal political oppositions all presidents naturally face from the opposing party.
Because of Trump’s own careless linguistic excesses and thin skin, he provides continual fodder for the masses of the angry Left that was being used by the organized, funded elements of the Left.
Remember, these were people who were sure they were going to get the first woman president and losing to such an upstart apple cart over-turner was enraging. The demonstration organizers and funders are able to take that anger and frustration of the Left and use it to leverage their existing infrastructure of protesting machines. While many people in the demonstrations are sincerely upset, they are being used by the Left establishment.
So this impressive array came together: The Democrat establishment, just a small but cover-providing portion of the Republican establishment, the media establishment that Trump continues to engage head-on like no one else, the entrenched bureaucratic establishment (including the intelligence agencies) and ancillary establishments of lobbyists, experts, etc. They aligned in common cause against the man that most seems to threatened the system that has empowered and enriched them.
Trump is a highly imperfect vehicle for this undertaking, but this same array would have come together against any candidate who truly meant to “drain the swamp.” Trump just makes it a little easier with his public carelessness.
If Trump is allowed to do what he says he wants to do, it becomes the first loosening of the plug at the bottom of the swamp. A lot of political oxes will be gored, power and influence will be lost and cozy D.C. establishments on the Left and Right will be up-ended.
They won’t wait to see how he does because it is not in their best interests to do so, and they seem to have all the components in place to not wait.
Seismic change: Tuesday’s address to Congress
Key phrase being “seem to.”
This is vital, because Trump presented a dramatically different image of himself when he address the Joint Session of Congress Tuesday night — a State of the Union for a newly elected president. In it, Trump laid out a vision for the country that was not sifted through the heavy filter of media bias and negativity.
Trump was presidential, controlled, focused on his vision and agenda, compassionate and patriotic. He hit 80 percent conservative notes, 20 percent populist notes. The reviews even in the media were that Trump not only gave a great speech — because expectations are low with him on giving speeches — but a well above-average speech for any State of the Union or equivalent. It was a real effort at post-partisanship (to which the Democrats in attendance gave the metaphorical middle finger) and a forceful vision of a renewed America.
Even his fiercest enemies, such as Van Jones, said: “He became President of the United States in that moment, period.”
So if Trump not only does exactly what he promised to do in terms of the broadest “drain the swamp” actions, but does it with more of the gravitas expected of the office, then the Washington establishment will have two options: dig in deeper and ratchet up or give up and surrender.
There is no reason to think they will easily surrender their power, influence and wealth.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The Revolutionary Act.