‘The Resistance’: A liberal Tea Party?
“It’s beginning to look a lot like 2009,” said Kate Zernike in The New York Times. “That year, horrified by a new president,” conservative activists took to the streets “under the Tea Party banner” to resist Barack Obama’s agenda—marching against government bailouts and storming meetings held by congressional Democrats in protest of Obamacare. The powerful grassroots movement swept House Republicans to victory in the 2010 midterms, remaking the political landscape. Eight years later, said Vanessa Williamson in CNN.com, liberals are borrowing from the Tea Party playbook to mount their own resistance to President Trump. Constituents have overloaded congressional phone lines with complaints about Trump’s Cabinet picks, while five Republican lawmakers have been driven from rowdy town hall events packed with people protesting Obamacare repeal and other Trump policies. “Could this be the Left’s Tea Party moment?”
It certainly looks that way, said Paul Kane in The Washington Post. But can this new liberal Tea Party build into a significant and lasting movement without dividing the party? Let’s not forget that conservative activists directed their rage against Republicans too—pushing out establishment “cucks” such as Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor in favor of extremist candidates. The Left’s grassroots movement is already showing its own cannibalistic tendencies, said Molly Ball in The Atlantic.com. Progressive idol Bernie Sanders was attacked by activists for merely suggesting he could work with Trump on certain shared goals, such as job creation. But while “the Tea Party terrorized Republicans,” it also strengthened them: A year after a crushing electoral defeat, the GOP “won seven Senate seats and took the House in a wave.” Democrats would surely accept some infighting if it sparked an electoral turnaround.
If “The Resistance” means tacking to their party’s far-left fringe, said Robert Tracinski in The Federalist.com, it will prove Democrats learned absolutely nothing from the 2016 election. They lost to Donald Trump largely because they abandoned the white working class. To win back Middle America, liberals have to focus their activist energy on economic populism—rather than stage polarizing marches about racism, LGBT rights, and abortion, as they now seem determined to do. Liberals may be building a new movement, but it may “throw their own party even further out of the balance with the rest of the country.”