Politics & Policy

The Corner

Do Liberal Writers Really Believe In an Obligation to Oppose Everything Trump Does?

If you follow many liberal/progressive writers or pundits, you hear an awful lot of variations on the argument that there’s an absolute moral obligation to oppose everything Trump and his Administration do – every proposal, every initiative, regardless of its merits as policy. This is generally directed as a lecture to Republicans, often garnished with implicit or explicit references to collaboration with Hitler, descent of the country into fascism, and the like. The argument is, specifically, that Congressional Republicans who go along with Trump policies they agree with are legitimizing him and his various misdeeds. This is implicit in the use of the term “Resistance” to describe what we usually consider ordinary democratic opposition, and implicit even in the citation of statistics about how often various people vote with Trump, as if, say, Jeff Flake is a hypocrite for criticizing Trump while voting in favor of naming post offices.

Well, if the people pushing this line actually believe it, they have their chance, now that Trump is asking Congress for $6 billion in relief funds for Houston and surrounding areas hit by Hurricane Harvey, funds that his Administration would be responsible for dispensing. If you genuinely believe that collaborating with Trump is morally impermissible regardless of the policy involved, you would argue that Congress should refuse this request, or at the barest minimum hold it hostage until Trump accedes to a long list of unrelated demands about his business interests, tax returns, Justice Department investigations, etc.

Will anyone actually argue in favor of this? Most likely not — nor should they — because disaster relief is good and important public policy and people will suffer if it’s not provided. But that’s exactly what shows that the people making this kind of argument don’t actually believe it. They won’t follow their own logic when the policy is one they genuinely support. The whole shtick is really just a smoke screen for disagreeing with normal Republican policies, and using Trump as a club to attack Republicans in Congress for supporting a pre-existing Republican agenda when it happens to be endorsed by Trump.

There are, of course, things that Republicans can do, should do, and are doing to push back at Trump (it’s hard to think of a modern president, even Carter, who faced the kind of criticism and hostility from his own party on Capitol Hill in his first half-year in office). But the argument that Republicans — and only Republicans — have some sort of obligation to oppose their own policy proposals and preferences because of Trump is not a sincere one or one that liberal/progressive commentators would ever apply to their own agenda.

Dan McLaughlin — Dan McLaughlin is an attorney practicing securities and commercial litigation in New York City, and a contributing columnist at National Review Online.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More