Last night President Trump delivered a speech to congress that sounded an awful lot like a speech we wished he would have given during the inauguration. If one could push aside previously held positions and opinions of policy, they would have seen an attempt at an optimistic and united message. Let’s be honest, regardless of where you stand, feeling the constant angry cry from both sides quiet down for even a few minutes was a welcome change of pace.
With this in mind, the question needs to be posed. Is perpetually opposing Trump the right solution for those who take issue with his policies? First, we have to define perpetual opposition for the purposes of this discussion. My meaning of that phrase, is the knee jerk opposition to anything and everything President Trump does, regardless of our true positions on the subjects. This was a trend on display the last 8 years under President Obama, and whether you agree or disagree with it, we can all admit it turned what used to be an attempt at continual progress, into a gridlocked nightmare that we have inherited today.
Democrats, standing on a solid foundation of mindless Republican opposition, capped off with a refusal to even give Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick a hearing, have toyed with the idea of following the lead of the Tea Party in opposing everything President Trump does. I think now as I did then, that this is a grave mistake.
While there is plenty of daylight between President Trump and the left on issues like immigration, climate change and energy regulations, there are actually areas of agreement where progress can be made. To start, the bluster around the ACA has significantly declined, with the realization that it is indeed a big deal to voters that they are able to afford healthcare. Some parts of the ACA are still receiving criticism, but even staunch Trump supporters who have opposed the ACA from the beginning would be hard pressed to be against coverage of preexisting conditions, children staying under their parents plans until they are 26, and other helpful measures.
When it comes to trade, Trump may be on the extremes of nationalism, but the mentality he has, is shared to a lesser extent among almost all voters. We have watched manufacturing start to slip away, along with other industries, and we are well aware that the country of origin for our goods have changed dramatically the last few decades. While Trump’s zero sum approach to the world economy may be short sighted, he’s tapped into economic anxieties and a desire to be protected from global changes that many of us share. Even the democratic darling of last year’s election cycle Bernie Sanders, has shown a willingness to pursue trade policies that may just share common ground with Trump.
When it comes to corruption, Trump’s appointments and staffing choices may have some shaky candidates, but Trump’s policies focusing on limiting lobbying, and similar measures, have been a rallying cry on the left every election cycle. These policies among a host of others, can be safely pursued by democrats who want to see legislative victories occur, regardless of who is in office.
The point of opposing someone, shouldn’t be in a desire to see them fail, particularly if that person is steering the ship we are all on board. Opposition is necessary, but it needs to be reserved for policies and positions that genuinely need opposing. If that means giving Trump political wins to brag about, while simultaneously helping Americans and pushing an agenda both parties agree on, so be it. Democrats need to put their money where their mouths are, and show there is still progress that can be made with someone they oppose in the Whitehouse. They rightfully were upset with the stonewalling Obama received on even policies republicans agreed with, and if there is to be any change towards progress, they must refuse to continue using such counterproductive tactics. The left and right may have different ways of approaching policy, but at the end of the day, we can’t forget we both are playing for the same team.