Kellyanne Conway believes that our constitutional system relies on the good-faith cooperation of the minority party in Washington — and that the very least that party can do is acknowledge the legitimacy of the duly elected president.
“The professional political left is attempting to foment a permanent opposition that is corrosive to our constitutional democracy,” Donald Trump’s campaign manager told the New York Times Monday. “The left is trying to delegitimize his election … They’re trying to deny him what he just earned.”
Conway’s remarks came as the Electoral College rebuffed the pleas of progressive activists and cleared Trump’s path to the Oval Office. But while some in the “professional political left” did agitate for the electors to throw the presidency to literally anybody but the manifestly corrupt, Siberian candidate (who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots), Democratic officeholders played little role in that failed insurrection.
In fact, early reports suggest that Democrats on Capitol Hill are attempting to foment cooperation with the next commander-in-chief. The party’s leading lights in the Senate — from Chuck Schumer to Bernie Sanders — have already expressed their interest in working with Trump on issues like infrastructure, child care, and family leave.
Still, any Democratic activists or legislators who have been contemplating total intransigence would do well to heed Conway’s call for bipartisan comity. Whatever one thinks of Trump, giving him reflexive and unyielding respect — while helping him accomplish his most popular policy goals — is simply good politics.
Recall how the Republican Party responded to Barack Obama’s victory in 2008. Instead of forming a “permanent opposition” that would have corroded our democratic institutions, the GOP framed the election of the first black president as a source of pride for all Americans — and then rallied behind that president, to help the nation battle its way back from financial crisis.
And let’s not forget that Donald Trump’s rise to political prominence was fueled by the leadership he displayed in condemning the birther movement (which Hillary Clinton’s nasty 2008 campaign had started).
Had Trump not convinced Obama to put that ugly issue to bed by releasing his birth certificate, a profoundly dangerous form of racial politics could have gained currency in the United States — a development that would have been bad for both the country and the Republican Party (which must suppress the racial resentment of its white base to win elections in our increasingly diverse and tolerant society).
If there’s one thing the last eight years have taught us, it’s that the American electorate rewards politicians who evince respect for our governing institutions and for bipartisan cooperation — and punishes those who seek to obstruct the sitting president’s agenda or to undermine his legitimacy.
Anyone who suggests otherwise is a cynical operative who thinks she can spew transparent hypocrisies because you have the political memory of a goldfish.