Since November’s election, it hasn’t been easy to be a Democrat. Most of us assumed that Hillary Clinton would win in a walk, and the media gave us the same impression. The shock of her loss hasn’t totally subsided, as no matter where I go, I hear rumblings of unhappiness and anger from the most placid people I know. But it’s time to look at the bright side of defeat and realize that Democrats, Republicans or independents who didn’t vote now have the gift that will keep on giving. It’s President Donald Trump.
Throughout December and most of January, the political experts were describing the Democratic Party as being in a state of disarray. Democrats are still feuding over the selection of a party chair. But the person doing the most to unite the country for the next round of change is the new president.
The worldwide demonstrations the day after the inauguration were a massive coming together of people who won’t just sit back and let Trump do his thing. The demonstrations since then have kept millions of people ready, willing and able to march again. On almost any day of the week there are reported protests reacting to his latest actions. There’s no way the Democratic Party could energize the public the way Trump has.
There are massive numbers of voters who stayed home, or thought that a vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein wouldn’t affect the outcome of the election. Many of those people are experiencing buyer’s remorse now that they have seen the antics of the man who is supposed to be the leader of the free world. I can point to numerous actions by the president that are succeeding in creating a new national coalition that will not stay home in 2018.
For starters, let’s look at the Muslim ban. The word ban isn’t my language. Forget about the progressive movement or the free-speech groups. The technology industry in Silicon Valley is being hobbled by its inability to hire overseas talent, which helps make this country so great. Current employees are afraid to travel anywhere outside the U.S. for fear that they won’t be able to come back. Foreign students, who have become the lifeblood of our private and public colleges and our hospital system, have been unable to return to America due to the ban.
There’s no doubt that a large number of people think that Trump’s action, to keep us safe from “terrorists,” is a good thing. But it constitutes a Muslim ban, basically labeling all Muslims as terrorists. For those who follow history, it is a reminder of the internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II, or the movement in the 1930s to keep Jews out of the country because they were alleged to be some kind of security threat. Stay tuned to the action in federal courts.
Those of us who value our public school system and the education it offers to millions of Americans have to be frightened by the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education. A harsh critic of public education and a proponent of a voucher system, DeVos is uniting new groups of citizens who fear for the survival of public schools. Some of the president’s other cabinet choices are eager to take away clean-air protection and laws dealing with food safety. Some of the billionaires being considered for the cabinet can hardly wait until they can get tax law changes that will further reduce their payments to the Treasury.
Regardless of political party, the vast majority of Americans worry about whether this country will be spared taking part in another war. Having a president who argues with our friends, like Australia, and fires off random daily tweets attacking our allies is one sure way to get us into a war that could be the last one for all of us.
So let’s give President Trump some credit. He is doing for the Democratic Party something it can’t do for itself — recruiting a whole new generation of unhappy voters who will get a chance to express their dissent in 2018.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.