Think back to the night of November 8, 2016.
Democrats weren’t simply shocked and demoralized, we were terrified. Republicans controlled the presidency, the Congress, and would likely soon have a majority on the Supreme Court to boot. There was nothing Democrats could do to stop them, and if we tried, the Senate would go nuclear and make it even harder to stop the GOP juggernaut.
Adding to our fears, the Republican president-to-be was Donald Trump, a veritable nutjob with extremist views on race, immigration, climate and just about every other issue progressives hold dear, and supported by a virtual and vocal army of racists and anti-Semites.
There was a lot to be afraid of. Yet, we persevered, and then had a small victory only a few days before the inaugural: new White House appointee Monica Crowley was forced to resign as a result of a plagiarism scandal. It was a small blip, she was a b-list appointee, but still, it was clear this White House wasn’t entirely teflon after all.
Again, there was a sense that maybe Trump wasn’t ten feet tall, and maybe resistance wasn’t futile.
But then, the Muslim ban was struck down by a court, and another and another.
Three weeks later, in mid-February, Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign over the Russia scandal. (We’re still pushing for an independent investigation of Russia. Add your name alongside the nearly 10,000 who have called for a special counsel to investigate Russia’s influence in the election.)
Around the same time, at townhalls across America, ordinary Americans turn up to scold their members of Congress for towing the Trump line on health care, and other issues.
Three weeks after that, in early March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after perjuring himself during his confirmation hearings.
And then, two weeks later, the Obamacare repeal failed, while a judge stayed implementation of Trump’s second iteration of the Muslim ban.
Two weeks later, House Intelligence Committee chair, Devon Nunes, is forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, following his repeated attempts to help the Trump White House on the issue.
And now, in just the past few days, we have: Jon Ossoff nearly winning a special election in deep-red Georgia; Bill O’Reilly out at Fox; former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page on the receiving end of a FISA warrant to investigate whether he was working as a Russian agent; and GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee, an a staunch Trump ally, announcing he won’t run for re-election in 2018.
During the campaign, Trump warned that we’d tire of winning. We didn’t know that Trump was talking about the Democrats. Considering how much Democrats lost last November, this growing string of successes is remarkable.
Now, I’ve always been what I call an optimistic-pessimist. As an advocate, you’re trained to spot problems that need fixing. That can sometimes come across as more whiney than constructive. But unless your soul is entirely jaded, I’d argue that for the best advocates, the whining is strategic. It’s based on the knowledge that fighting back works, and that resistance is not futile. And clearly it has worked.
Still, I’ll be the first to admit that I never expected the left to have this many successes this quickly against Trump and the GOP congress. It’s really kind of amazing. And inspiring. Other than the Gorsuch nomination, Trump has practically nothing to show for his first 100 days in office. So thank you all for stepping up and making a difference.
As Margaret Mead famously said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Onward and upward.