Way back on August 11, 2014, the blog “The Loyal Opposition: Past, Present and Future” was posted at this site. It began with a dictionary-based definition of “loyal opposition”, a statement that is so relevant to this new blog that it is repeated below:
noun: a minority party, especially in a legislative body whose opposition to the party in power is constructive, responsible, and bounded by loyalty to fundamental interests and principles.
Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all had to work with a Congress that was controlled in whole or in part by the opposition party; Reagan with a Democrat majority in the House, and both Clinton and Obama with a Republican majority in the same chamber. (1) How the loyal opposition (LO) functioned vis a vis each of these three presidents was chronicled in the blog cited above. Interested readers can access all that by using the search window at the blog site and therefore, it need not be repeated here.
What matters now is how a LO populated by people in and out of office, behave during the coming Trump presidency? While it is arguable perhaps, there is plenty of justification for claiming that no president-elect has ever entered the Oval Office saddled with so much mistrust, revulsion and illegitimacy. The urge to defy and obstruct is almost palpable as one talks to folks who were vociferously anti-Trump and are eager to pay the man and the Republican party back for their multiple attempts to sabotage the Obama presidency. What follows is your blogger’s sense of how the LO needs to function as we go forward.
Any obstruction on the order of what the Republicans engaged in for eight straight years will be counter-productive; i.e. it will be used against the party at the time of the 2018 mid-term election when several incumbent Democrat senators will try to hold onto their seats. A better strategy would be for those same pols to pick their battles carefully and in only those cases, get on the record as opposing the more controversial of Trump’s nominees for various positions. A perfect example is the naming of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as Attorney General. This man, with a well-documented history of racism, will do nothing to protect the rights of minority groups or to attack state laws that have been designed to achieve race-based voter discrimination. Every single Democrat senator should “no” to his confirmation.
In the same vein, Democrats should stand against any conservative legislation that runs directly counter to Progressive principles. However, every opportunity should be taken to publicly offer constructive changes to initiatives advanced by the majority where there is room for conciliation and negotiation. (2)
Exercising your First Amendment rights in the form of letters to the editor and/or to your elected representatives do have an impact, however small. Donating to the campaigns of Democrats on the 2018 ballot is essential. Likewise, support for organizations like Planned Parenthood that are likely to be under attack from conservatives would be fitting.
An even better bet would involve firing off a check to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). (3) No single entity will be more committed to going to court to seek the repeal of existing discriminatory laws, to block the implementation of new laws that conservatives will seek to pass, and to hold Trump accountable should his business interests conflict with the execution of his job as president.
- Obama took office in 2009 with Democrat majorities in both chambers of Congress. By 2010, that control was gone in the House and by 2012, in the Senate as well.
- The sizes of the Republican majorities in both houses are such that they can ram through virtually whatever they want.
- Donations to the ACLU can be sent to ACLU; Mail Processing Center; PO Box 96259; Washington, DC 20077-7445.