One week after the women’s march, Trump issued his executive order banning refugees and migrants from seven majority Muslim nations from entry to the United States. The nation erupted in protest at airports and on streets across the country on Jan. 29. Here in Washington, the demonstrators came from everywhere to converge on the White House.
On Feb. 3, a federal judge in Washington State issued a temporary injunction against what many called Trump’s “Muslim ban.” The president’s arguments against the injunction were lost on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On Feb. 9, a three-judge panel smacked down the administration’s arguments for reinstating its un-American and immoral travel ban.
Around the same time this was happening, protesters were starting to turn sleepy congressional town halls into fire-breathing civics lessons across the country. “The Indivisible Guide” provided the how-to’s. The heat of those gatherings plus the insanity of a Trumpcare bill that not even the far-right Freedom Caucus could support resulted in a shaming embarrassment for the president. On March 24, Trumpcare was pulled from the floor. A legislative victory for opponents of Trump.
During an interview on my podcast “Cape Up” this month, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) stressed the importance of that defeat for Trump. “It was such a victory to all of the protesters and all of the activists,” Bass said. “It’s very important for people to know that those demonstrations, those phone calls, those emails made a difference. It was their victory.”
Then came gains at the ballot box in Kansas and Georgia in April.
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) gave up his seat to become the new CIA director. He’d just won reelection to his seat by 31 points over his Democratic opponent. The president won his district by 27 points. But on April 8, Kansas state treasurer Ron Estes only won the seat by seven points. A 24-point shift for Democrats, a New York Times graphic showed.
With 48.1 percent of the vote, Jon Ossoff (D) came up short of the 50 percent needed to outright win the “jungle primary” in Georgia’s sixth congressional district outright. But his showing was huge. Even though Trump won this district by one point, then-Rep. Tom Price (R), now health and human services secretary, won reelection to his seat in 2016 by 23 points. Oh, and no Democrat has held the seat since 1979.
Lots of folks, from the president on down, are trying to paint Ossoff’s shortfall as a total defeat. But when even Mark Levin, the infamous editor in chief of Conservative Review, raises alarm by calling the Georgia and Kansas races “the GOP’s ‘canary in a coal mine,’” things are going in your favor — with a healthy assist from a historically unpopular president.
Oh, did you know Democrats are cheering in Virginia over a special election there last Tuesday? In the race for Prince William County clerk of court, Jackie Smith (D) defeated by eight points the commonwealth’s popular Republican and cash-rich House majority whip. The Post reports that political analysts say “the Democratic energy exposed by the campaign is a warning for Republicans in November, when the state will elect a new governor and all 100 members of the House of Delegates.” The story also highlights some commentary from a conservative writer.
“This election result should force every Republican running for election or reelection in Virginia to sit up and take notice,” Brian Schoeneman, editor in chief of the Bearing Drift conservative blog, wrote on Wednesday. “President Trump’s low approval ratings and the motivation his election has created among liberal and progressive activists has manifested itself in grass-roots organizing at a level we haven’t seen in Virginia from Democrats in a long, long time.”
I mention all of these things and the dates they happened to remind folks that opposing unethical, unconstitutional, un-American and immoral aspects of the Trump presidency is a marathon, not a sprint. Potential losing battles must be fought if only to highlight an important wrong and place a marker. Some defeats in the short term are more important for what they portend in the long run. But needed above all is sustained energy and focus.
“I actually give Donald Trump a little credit,” Eric Liu, author of “You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen,” told me in the next episode of “Cape Up.” “He is responsible for the greatest surge in civic participation in half a century.”
Not bad for the first 100 days.
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