Trump resistance wins tsunami elections in 2017

Trump resistance wins tsunami elections in 2017
© Greg Nash

Sticking with Ernest Hemingway’s advice to write one true sentence, the true sentence about the 2017 elections is that the Trump resistance won an epic landslide victory because Americans who oppose Trump were far more motivated to vote than Americans who support Trump.

The anti-Trump tsunami voters supported the most liberal, moderate and conservative Democrats alike to fulfill their desire to resist and oppose the Trump presidency and defeat Trump Republicans who support it.


Perhaps the single biggest mistake made in political commentary today is that many pundits underestimate the political self-destruction of a president who is approved by roughly 37 percent of voters and disapproved by roughly 58 percent of voters.


Far too much is made of the alleged brilliance of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE in hyper-motivating what is called his base. To the degree that Trump succeeded in hyper-motivating the 37 percent who approve him, to an even greater degree in the 2017 elections, he hyper-motivated the 58 percent who disapprove him.

Big picture, the damage Trump does to the Republican Party is that he polarizers, emotionalizes and energizes the huge number of voters who thoroughly detest what Trump is doing to America, or merely disapprove what Trump is doing to America sufficiently enough to inspire them to vote.

What happened across the nation in the 2017 elections is that the powerful majority of voters opposed to Trump, from the top of the ticket to the bottom, journeyed to the polls to cast their votes for a vision of America that is better, nobler and stronger than what Trump Republicans offered on Election Day 2016.

In the 2017 elections, the resistance to Trump crested into a wave on top of a tsunami of voters who felt a powerful need to say no to the presidency of Donald Trump. The verdict of voters was devastating and decisive and will now cause a panic, as it should, in Republican circles.

Consider a second true sentence about the history of midterm elections: The first midterm elections after the election of a new president almost always become an outright referendum for or against that new president.

Many political observers fail to fully understand the degree that midterm elections usually are dominated by yes or no votes about the new president. They often advise Democratic candidates to not make Trump the major issue, which may be wise in red states where Trump is less unpopular, but crazy in the many states where Trump is hugely unpopular.

Midterm elections are check-and-balance elections. Nearly 60 percent of the nation would agree that a check and balance was never more needed than during the presidency of Donald Trump, and they journeyed to the polls to make it happen in the 2017 elections.

Of course Democrats need to offer a message, but the message should be based on what Democrats would do right, after prosecuting the political case about what Trump and Trump Republicans are doing wrong.

While Trump Republicans in Congress tried to force through disastrous health-care bills that would have taken some 20 million people off insurance rolls and were met with stratospheric unpopularity, Democrats offered plans that will provide more and better coverage at lower cost than the widely rejected plans offered by Trump Republicans. 

When Trump Republicans want to increase the budget deficit by more than a trillion dollars to finance tax cuts that heavily benefit the most wealthy citizens and most profitable corporations and would increase taxes for a significant number of middle-class Americans, the Democratic message was that their tax cuts will help those who need and deserve him and will not bloat the deficit to benefit those who don’t.

In the 2017 elections, huge numbers of Americans wanted to express their resistance to Trump so fiercely that they supported Democrats no matter how those Democrats campaigned or what their core message was.

On current course, the 2018 elections will likely repeat the patterns of 2017, which is why the Trump resistance should be celebrating today and control of the House and Senate are now seriously in play. 

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.