This was an incredibly close election. While the polls initially showed that Hillary Clinton would win, in the end it was Donald Trump that was victorious. Not only did Donald Trump win the White House, but Republicans also maintained control of the Senate and House of Representatives. Democrats have lost the reins of power in Washington. We are now the loyal opposition.
The Loyal Opposition
I would like to start by explaining what the loyal opposition is not. The loyal opposition is not a rubber stamp for the party in power. The loyal opposition does not give up its rights or the rights of its constituents. The loyal opposition does not discard the values that it has worked toward over the course of the election. The loyal opposition does not emulate the victors.
So what is the loyal opposition? The loyal opposition realizes that the victors have control of power and the ability to steer the country in the direction that they would like it to go. At the same time, the loyal opposition has a responsibility to the people to make sure that the groups that are in the minority are not sacrificed to the whims of the majority. They loyal opposition must continue to protect those that are most vulnerable. The loyal opposition has the responsibility to work with the majority when possible and vigorously oppose them when their desires clash with the rights of the people.
As you might have guessed, I am a Democrat. I thought that the Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations were horrible. But even though I didn’t like those Republican administrations, I didn’t oppose everything that they stood for. While I didn’t approve of the magnitude of the Reagan tax cuts, I did approve of the revenue raising measures that were implemented in the form of closing loopholes in the tax code. While I didn’t support virtually any of the George H. W. Bush foreign or domestic policy, I did support the necessity of the first Iraq war to push Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. While George W. Bush’s military and domestic policy were dangerous and ultimately proven to be disastrous to the country, I did support the Medicare part D plan that was implemented under his presidency.
That is what the loyal opposition does. They temper the bad policies while supporting the good policies.
This wasn’t a pretty election. In fact, it was ugly, and we should not sugarcoat the reason why. Donald Trump ran a campaign that started with racial attacks and then rode the escalator down. He encouraged a toxic stew of hatred and fear. He attacked millions of Americans. And he regularly made statements that undermined core values of our democracy.
And he won. He won – and now Latino and Muslim-American children are worried about what will happen to their families. LGBT couples are worried that their marriages could be dissolved by a Trump-Pence Supreme Court. Women are worried that their access to desperately needed health services will disappear. Millions of people in this country are worried, deeply worried. And they are right to be worried.
But here is where the loyal opposition comes in:
The deep worry that people feel over an America that does not work for them is not liberal or conservative worry. It is not Democratic or Republican worry. It is the deep worry that led even Americans with very deep reservations about Donald Trump’s temperament and fitness to vote for him anyway.
So let me be 100% clear about this. When President-Elect Trump wants to take on these issues, when his goal is to increase the economic security of middle class families, then count me in. I will put aside our differences and I will work with him to accomplish that goal. I offer to work as hard as I can and to pull as many people as I can into this effort. If Trump is ready to go on rebuilding economic security for millions of Americans, so am I and so are a lot of other people-Democrats and Republicans.
That’s what we can do as the loyal opposition. We can support the positions that Democrats and Republicans agree on. We can caution against the positions on which we disagree but are unlikely to cause harm. And we can fight to the bitter end against the positions that will hurt the people of the United States. And that is what I will be doing during the Republican control of Congress and the Donald Trump control of the White House.