Elections have consequences. Or, at least, that used to be the case.
President Trump’s entirely unexpected win in November has liberals — and liberalism, more specifically — in a lurch. Not happy with the election outcome, radical leftists have taken a new approach and are undermining, en masse, the implications of the election.
In our republic — and it is worth remembering that we are a republic and a representative democracy, not a direct democracy — we come together, at regular intervals, to elect new leadership. Elections are the course corrections we have at our disposal — and have had since our nation’s founding. This is what representative democracy looks like. (You can help us encourage liberals to get over it by signing our "Trump Won" petition.)
Trump won in November because he ran a better campaign, on a better platform, with a better message. Those are hard truths for liberals who still cannot wrap their minds around the 2016 election. But the even starker reality that sets liberals over the edge is that Trump was, quite simply, a better candidate. And he won because of it.
In our republic, electoral wins translate into legislative wins. Winners set policy. And the losers of elections dust themselves off and get ready for the next election.
But today’s radical liberals are not content to prepare for the next election. They aren’t interested in crafting a better campaign message or running on better ideas or platforms that resonate with American voters. What’s more, they do not even seem all that interested in running better candidates than Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE. They are exclusively, and obsessively, interested in one thing: undermining Trump and his agenda.
Liberals have a long history of embracing progress, and their political rhetoric is laced with their ideas of looking to the future and the ideas associated with moving “forward.” But Trump’s win has, in a very real way, stunted the progressivism embedded in liberalism. Liberals’ eyes today are firmly fixed on the past election, and their actions are all about one thing — the past. It is difficult to be a forward-thinking movement when your gaze is so steadily fixed on the rearview mirror.
Unwilling to accept the election results, the left is organizing a massive resistance effort to reject all of Trump’s policies. While the left states that the end goal is to undermine Trump’s presidency, the unintended consequence of the left’s actions is the undermining of our very political institutions. Elections have consequences because elections matter.
As the head of Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest grassroots tea party organization, I have learned a thing or two about opposing policies and political candidates. The tea party movement, I am proud to say, has shaped modern activism in America, and our style of opposition is worth imitating. In the spirit of political discourse, I offer here a few lessons the tea party has drawn over the years. The left may want to take note.
1. There is a world of difference between “opposition” and “resistance.” To oppose ideas or candidates, one works within the given system to challenge policies, to right the course, or to effect meaningful change. The left’s current resistance movement, by contrast, works outside the system, undermining our core political institutions. The difference between opposition and resistance is far greater than semantics, and the left should be careful to not let the lawlessness of resistance define its movement.
2. Don’t forget to be for something. The tea party, whether opposing ObamaCare or illegal immigration, never lost sight of what we stand for. With rare (and notable) exceptions throughout history, pure resistance movements fail.
3. Learn from the past, but don’t live in it. The tea party movement has learned from political history. We learn from election defeats and adjust our strategies and tactics accordingly. And we move on. That “moving on” part is key to future successes.
4. Be prepared to make sacrifices, but also know what you will not sacrifice or compromise. The tea party has made legislative and policy compromises over the years, but we have never compromised on our core principles or our identity. The left’s current ill-conceived resistance movement compromises our shared belief as Americans that elections are the best way to determine policy.
Elections come and go, and yesterday’s losers at the polls and in the ideas market are often tomorrow’s victors at the polls, who lead the way with policy ideas. By making the 2016 electoral defeat part of their core identity, liberals risk losing far more than elections in the future. If they aren’t careful, they may very well end up losing the heart and soul of their movement.
Jenny Beth Martin is the president and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.