by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In 2016, the Democrats made a significant mistake in opposing Donald Trump: They framed their opposition to Trump in moral terms, but failed to provide a better alternative. In 2017 and 2018, they’re making the same mistake again, adopting an attitude of moral superiority in spite of obvious evidence to the contrary.
The Left’s failure in the presidential election was glaringly obvious. You claim Trump is dishonest? So is Hillary Clinton. You claim that Trump’s financial dealings are shady? Let’s walk through Whitewater, cattle futures, and the Clinton Foundation. Trump is a predator? Voters who lived through the 1990s remember “bimbo eruptions,” Monica Lewinsky, a rape allegation, and a wife who consistently covered for her husband’s horrible behavior. The Clintons were a package deal, and that deal included a legacy of tawdry, shocking sexual scandal.
Hillary centered her entire campaign on the notion that Trump was a bad person. She was the worst candidate to make that argument. But when 2016 entered history, so did she. Her book tours and headline-grabbing gaffes notwithstanding, she’s largely yesterday’s news. The #Resistance, on the other hand, is fresh. And it has the moral authority that Hillary lacked. It can speak clearly about “norms” and “values.” It can condemn Trump’s multiple moral failings in the strongest possible terms, unencumbered by all that Clinton baggage.
At least until #MeToo.
I truly don’t think the Left understands how the relentless drumbeat of sexual scandal looks to Americans outside the progressive bubble. Left-dominated quarters of American life — Hollywood, the media, progressive politics — have been revealed to be havens for the worst sort of ghouls, and each scandal seems to be accompanied by two words that deepen American cynicism and make legions of conservative Americans roll their eyes at the Left’s moral arguments: “Everyone knew.”