Protesters against Donald Trump’s inauguration are flooding to DC and putting forth their best effort to ensure that there will be a second Trump inauguration to protest four years from now.
I’m not boasting or gloating about this outcome. I didn’t want there to be a first Trump inauguration, and I probably won’t be too happy about a second one, either. Yes, a lot can and will go wrong with the Trump administration over the next four years, so it’s impossible to predict the next election. But everything in the behavior of Trump’s opponents on the left tells us they are determined to learn nothing from this past election and to double down on everything that drove voters into Trump’s camp.
Let’s start with the fact that protesting a presidential inauguration is a bad idea. The whole purpose of the inauguration is for the great and good in our nation’s capital to recognize the peaceful transition of power through the electoral process laid down in our hallowed Constitution. So naturally a bunch of Democratic congressmen have decided to boycott it, Representative John Lewis is declaring Trump “illegitimate,” and busloads of leftists have already headed to DC for a week of protests. A week.
Is this because Trump is somehow supremely, exceptionally awful? But this didn’t begin with Trump. It began with George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2001, when leftists refused to accept the election result because of the recount in Florida. Yet even after an indisputable re-election victory in 2004, they protested Bush again. It has become their way of coping, I guess, with the rejection of their favored candidate by the American people.
A lot of them—I asked someone I know who is going—just see it as a way of voicing their opposition to Trump’s agenda. I hope that makes them feel better. But that’s not the way it comes across to everyone else, and the protesters don’t really want to see it from anyone else’s perspective, and that’s their problem.
This doesn’t really come across as a protest against Trump. It doesn’t even come across as a rejection of the American political system or the process of presidential succession, because if they were really serious about that, they would do a whole lot more than a few lame street theater protests. Instead, this comes across as a temper tantrum against the existence of recalcitrant voters who don’t agree with them. It’s like the old Bertolt Brecht poem about the attitude of a previous gang of leftists: the desire “to dissolve the people and elect another.” They are protesting the fact that the rest of the American public isn’t good enough for them.
This all comes across as a statement of contempt for anyone who’s not on board with their political agenda. Or I should say another statement of contempt for their fellow citizens. Because that’s what the left has been conveying all along, and it’s part of what drove people to Trump, no matter how inadequate and inappropriate a vessel he is for such a protest vote.
The strength of the religious vote for Trump initially mystified me, until I remembered the ferocity of the left’s assault on religious believers in the past few years—the way they were hounded and vilified for continuing to hold traditional beliefs about marriage that were suddenly deemed backward and unacceptable (at least since 2012, when President Obama stopped pretending to share them). What else do you think drove all those religious voters to support a dissolute heathen?
A lot of Americans have become tired of being called racists and bigots, particularly during the Obama years, when this accusation was trotted out to smack down anyone who opposed the president for any reason. So these voters have taken to completely, reflexively, even obstinately rejecting such accusations, even when they’re valid. That’s a problem, but it’s not going to be solved by shouting louder.
So what are the inauguration protesters doing? Describing Trump voters as a bunch of fascists and backward redneck bigots whose opinions shouldn’t count.
The pressure on entertainers to withdraw from performing at the inauguration under the threat of never working again is indicative of the problem. We can laugh at the left for living inside a bubble where everyone agrees with them or else. But this increasing ability to rule over miniature one-party states in fields like entertainment and academia is eliminating their capacity to deal with disagreement. That’s the really ominous message of the inauguration protests: that this is all they’ve got, that it’s their only way of communicating with their fellow citizens.
The message of the inauguration protests is that it’s not a bubble any more, it’s a bunker. The left has dug in deep, and all we’re going to hear from them is shouting. In all likelihood, that will only keep driving voters away.