There have always been people on the political left who know that the obsession with hatred of President Donald Trump – commonly known as Trump derangement syndrome – is not, by itself, sufficient to advance the left’s agenda or to remove the president from office, either through election or other means. While there is no doubt that some Democratic 2020 hopefuls will gamble everything upon baseless accusations against Trump and hysterical rage at his character more than his policies, there are those who, even as they oppose this president, realize the fragility of trying to defeat him with nothing other than personal enmity. For the left, it is always a zero-sum game…
For the left, it is always a zero-sum game…
As the fight over funding for the border wall played out, it became obvious that Democrats oppose Trump’s plans for securing the southern border only out of desperation to deny the president the opportunity to fulfill one of his signature campaign promises. That same approach – opposition to the Trump agenda merely for the sake of opposing it – is evident in everything congressional Democrats say and do.
Personal Enmity Over Policy Debate
That view of Democratic Party intentions is more than just a right-wing talking point. Radical leftist and Obama confidant Van Jones not only understood this but also was willing to admit it publicly. The administration’s push for criminal justice reform was something most leftists, if they were true to their stated beliefs, should have applauded, but many leading Democrats simply could not bring themselves to support the effort.
At what seemed an unlikely venue for Jones — the winter seminar hosted by the Koch network — the former Obama administration official put his finger on the pulse of Democratic Party strategy. Referring to the party’s lukewarm response to criminal justice reform, Jones said, “I think privately they just didn’t want Trump to have a victory.”
For decades, the left’s greatest weakness has been its inability to put rational policy debate ahead of emotional response. As radical as many of his ideas are, Jones is one of the few leftists willing to focus on the former.
“There’s a lot of stuff that we’re gonna keep fighting on in America,” The Daily Caller quoted Jones as saying. “I have no problem with that! The problem is there’s a lot of stuff we do agree on that we aren’t working on together at all.” This sentiment is something one rarely hears from people on Jones’ side. For the left, it is always a zero-sum game: Their side always has to win absolutely, and the other side must always lose absolutely. Jones declines to completely demonize everyone on the right. “You’ve got awesome people and beautiful people on both sides who don’t know what to do together,” he said, “and if we start working on that, a lot of stuff is gonna get better, and that’s what we’ve got to focus on.”
Jones is right about the differences right and left will continue to have, of course. There are certain issues that simply cannot be resolved with a kumbaya moment. Fundamental economic and social matters must be decided with rational and fact-based debate, but those on the left are incapable of taking up that challenge, instead relying on the delegitimization of those who disagree with them and thinking that therein lies the path to victory.
This obstinate refusal to even grudgingly admit that those on the other side have achieved anything positive, though, is transparent and tiresome. Even left-wing activist and political commentator Margaret Hoover recently became exasperated with Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) over his complete inability to acknowledge the success of the Trump economy.
Interviewing Swalwell on her PBS show Firing Line With Margaret Hoover, the host was clearly dissatisfied with the Democrat’s description of the economy as “insecure” and his claim that “it’s not working.” After referencing historically low unemployment and the growth in wages, Hoover pointed out to Swalwell that “many of the fundamentals and the confidence of the economy are far better since Trump took office than they were under the previous eight years of President Obama’s presidency.”
Hoover followed up with a statement that seemed to exactly echo the point Van Jones had made at the Koch seminar. “And I wonder if it’s just too difficult for Democrats to give the president a win.” Swalwell then attempted a rambling retort that made little sense, prodding Hoover to respond, “You just seem completely unwilling to say anything positive about this economy in relation to the leadership over the last two years.”
Both Hoover and Jones perceive the maddening weakness in the left’s opposition to Trump, and they are probably not alone. When politicians are utterly unable to acknowledge anything good about their opponents’ agenda, even when that agenda is clearly producing positive results, they come off as obstinate, juvenile, and vacuous. Worse than that, however, these unrelenting critics betray the fact that, to them, the defeat of their political enemies is more important than the well-being of the people they aspire to lead.