In just a few short weeks, on November 8, thousands of Americans in at least nine cities will take to the streets to “scream helplessly at the sky.” You can probably guess the reason: It’s to mark the one-year anniversary of the election of Donald Trump.
Can you believe it’s almost been a year since the election? Time flies when everyone seems to be losing their minds! Here’s the good news: If you’re reading this, you’re still alive. You’re not hunkered down in some bunker in South Dakota. The stock market seems downright giddy — knock on wood, at least for now — and despite our president’s occasionally baffling and sometimes alarming tweets, our country is apparently still free enough for people to get on Facebook and organize cross-country protests that involve shouting at clouds.
In New York alone, 2,300 people have signed up to scream helplessly at the sky, and 15,000 more have expressed interest. Personally, I have never screamed at the sky, shaken my fist at the sun, or berated any other random celestial object. I didn’t even watch the eclipse! But this is America, and people can still do pretty much what they want to do, even if it’s a half-baked protest that I guarantee will become really awkward the moment after everyone walks outside and screams for ten seconds and then looks around in a gigantic, unspoken “Okay, now what?” (Maybe some of the better protests will organize a live band and some hot-dog trucks to offset all of the screaming, but somehow, I doubt it.)
For many Democrats, left-of-center voters, and even Republican opponents of Donald Trump, “Okay, now what?” is truly the question of our times. Johanna Schulman, the organizer of the original Boston “scream helplessly at the sky” protest — it has now been canceled, she says, due to “circumstances beyond our control” — told the press that “coming together reminds us that we are not alone, that we are part of an enormous community of activists who are motivated and angry, whose actions can make a difference.”
Well, okay. But seriously: Now what?
In The Candidate, after weeks of compromising, soul-selling, wheeling, dealing, and finally winning an election, Robert Redford’s character blurts out a similar question: “What do we do now?” In the movie, no one answers. These days, for the Democrats, no one seems to have an answer, either.
Sure, there are vague rumblings about impeachment. There are heated discussions about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which might simmer down now that the Clinton campaign has been dragged into the news for secretly funding the infamous Russian-linked “Steele Dossier.” But beyond that, Democrats seem to be running on the presumption that on the next go-round, enough Republican voters will simply get queasy enough to jump ship. That would be a swell strategy, except for the fact that most disgruntled Republicans — even the ones alarmed by Donald Trump — tend to find the Democrats scarier still.
Are Democrats the party of DNC chairman Tom Perez, who this week declared that ‘the Electoral College is not a creation of the Constitution’?
What, for instance, does the Democratic party stand for? Is it the party of Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, who this week declared that “the Electoral College is not a creation of the Constitution”? (Fact check: It is.) Is it the party of Bernie Sanders, the batty socialist who owns three houses but believes there are too many brands of deodorant? Is it the party of Wendy Davis, the failed Texas gubernatorial candidate, who, if you believe her Twitter feed, seems to believe that the most important issue facing America is fighting for women’s “paid period leave”?
Is it the party of California, where recent laws supporting “gender non-binary” birth certificates and the potential jailing of health-care workers who use the “wrong” gender pronoun have somehow failed to stop an epic number of residents from fleeing the state? As for abortion, we already know where Democrats stand: Planned Parenthood is sacrosanct. For all of the national media attention on the radicalism of Alabama’s wildly unfortunate GOP Senate candidate, Roy Moore, we hear little about his opponent, Doug Jones, who wants federal funding for abortion and suggested to the press that he supports the practice until a baby is born. I’m sorry, but that’s bananas, too.
No one can deny that Republicans have problems. (Just for starters, what kind of knuckleheads float the idea of limiting people’s contributions to their own 401(k)s, as congressional Republicans reportedly did this week?) Someday, I hope, people of both parties will recognize that the solution to much of this nonsense involves limiting the power of government, not expanding it. In the meantime, Democrats might want to take a critical look inside their own party, even as they holler at the sky.
— Heather Wilhelm is a National Review Online columnist.