According to interviews with roughly two dozen party leaders and elected officeholders, the internal debate over whether to take the conciliatory path — to pursue a high-road approach as a contrast to Trump’s deeply polarizing and norm-violating style — is largely settled, cemented in place by a transition and first week in office that has confirmed the left’s worst fears about Trump’s temperament.
“They were entitled to a grace period, but it was midnight the night of the inauguration to 8 o'clock the next morning, when the administration sent out people to lie about numerous significant things. And the damage to the credibility of the presidency has already been profound,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “They were entitled to a grace period and they blew it. It’s been worse than I could have imagined, the first few days."
That conclusion comes after two months of intraparty debates about how to outwardly treat the Trump White House, a process which played out not only in public but also in private meetings and conference calls between leading party operatives, elected officials and message crafters.
“I predict the coming divide in the Democratic Party won’t be ideological so much as it will be between those who resist and oppose and those who accommodate and appease,” strategist David Brock told roughly 120 donors gathered in Florida over the weekend to plot a path forward.
That mind-set has permeated every outpost of the party from governors' mansions to Congress. Whether it’s in statehouses or the offices of state attorneys general, the Democratic National Committee or the constellation of outside left-leaning political groups, Trump’s benefit of the doubt is gone.
At a forum this week for candidates running to be the next DNC chair, the very idea that the party should try to work with the new president was dismissed as absurd.
“That’s a question that’s absolutely ridiculous,” said New Hampshire party Chairman Raymond Buckley, when asked whether the Democratic Party should try to work with Trump where it can find opportunities.
Television commentator Jehmu Greene offered: “If you saw the millions of people who marched in the streets this weekend and participated in it, they are looking to the Democratic Party. We have an opportunity as a party to be that place of resistance. So we have to form a solid resistance as a party. And no, it is not about working with Donald Trump.” .
Greene is right, but so far I've seen nothing but talk, and zero action to stand against Trump. The fact that the Dems are planning on the Full Mitch could explain why House Republicans want the Senate GOP to go ahead and kill the filibuster now and make Dem resistance a moot point.
Rep. Trent Franks had a simple question for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during a private GOP meeting here Wednesday: Would he take up anti-abortion legislation the House passed? McConnell shot back that it would never get through the Senate because Democrats aren’t “pro-life” and have the votes to stop it.
So why don’t you just change the rules? Rep. Bruce Poliquin demanded moments later. McConnell dodged, suggesting it's not going to happen.
Congressional Republicans came here for a private retreat this week hoping to get on the same page on plans to repeal Obamacare and overhaul the tax code. But age-old tensions between the fast-moving House and plodding Senate percolated just hours into their three-day gathering.
House Republicans, eager to pass conservative priorities they’ve campaigned on for years, are already feeling restless that the Senate — and its higher hurdle for passage — will blunt their efforts. They’d love to kill the filibuster, a nuclear option the tradition-bound McConnell is loath to deploy.
“The public doesn’t want to hear about process; they want to see us get stuff done,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.). “I think there is a very low threshold of tolerance among our electorate right now for historical process (and) precedent.”
I don't blame Franks. The House GOP knows it has its best shot in decades at shock and awe austerity cuts, and there's a chance that Chuck Schumer might find his spine somewhere.
Again, I'll believe it when I see it. The wild card is the Trump regime. If stuff Trump promises gets blocked by the Dems, how long will he tolerate Mitch?