Donald Trump's address to the Joint Session of Congress was his best, so far. Almost all pundits and commentators agree, Trump was presidential, and he needed to be. But hardly anyone expected the grand slam homerun that he delivered, and hardly anyone seems to have missed how the political ground has shifted.
Investors loved the speech. The Dow Jones Industrial Average returned to its winning ways one day after its string of record closes ended at twelve consecutive days. On the day following Trump's speech the Dow closed with a gain of over 300 points, blasting through the 21,000 mark. This ties a record for the shortest number of days, twenty-four, between 1,000-point milestones, matching a record set in 1999 when it went from 10,000 to 11,000.
The president's speech energized and united Republicans. Purpose has replaced doubt, even as they recognize that there are areas where they disagree with the president and disagree among themselves. Republicans resolved to work towards compromise and deliver on legislation that was promised. That includes repeal and replacement of ObamaCare, border security, and tax reform. Failure to deliver will be fatal.
The Democratic leadership is in denial. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer predicted that Republicans will break with the president within a matter of months. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued this statement after the president's speech.
“The President’s speech was utterly disconnected from the cruel reality of his conduct.
“The President speaks like a populist, but he is selling working people down the river to Wall Street. He claims that he’s making America safer, but he has jeopardized the security of our country and weakened our fight against terror with his Administration’s dangerous, incompetent and unconstitutional actions.
“The Trump Administration has spent 40 days putting Wall Street first, making America sick again, sowing fear in our communities, and ensuring Russia maintains its grip on our security and our democracy. Democrats will continue to lead the fight against President Trump’s bait-and-switch assault on America.”
Pelosi's statement runs true to form in its dishonesty, and Pelosi is too old or too stupid to see it. Democrats have been given cover by their media allies for so long that they have come to believe that their voters would have endless patience in the face of their empty promises. Republicans have always been their foil, always available for blame, and the media could always be depended upon to assist in focusing that blame. That well is running dry.
Trump has come along to steal the Democrats' thunder, and Pelosi has come face to face with it. Under her leadership the Democrats' squandered reservoirs of trust by failing to improve the lives of their constituent identity groups. They gave it away by opposing school choice for inner city kids in failing schools. They gave it away by pushing through minimum wage laws that kill entry level jobs and rob the poorest of opportunity. Democrats chose labor union political contributions over the well being of the people they were elected to serve. For decades the Democrats have played racial politics while the inner cities descended into pits of corruption and crime.
The Democrats' ability and desire to govern has atrophied to the point where they hardly even bother with it. Instead they campaign, almost exclusively. Issues don't matter. Hillary could vote in favor of the Iraq war one day, and on the next day oppose it. She could oppose gay marriage one year and support it the next. Who cares? The Democrats take a position for two reasons. One is that successful legislation on it will give themselves and their allies the power to punish their enemies as they have through government agencies like the IRS and the EPA. The other is to provide a debate forum in which Republicans can be cast as evil, dishonest people who can't be trusted. Issues are contrived so that predictable Republican objections can be framed as greedy or bigoted. Transgender bathrooms? Whatever they dream up they have been able to throw out there, and then stand back while the media dutifully piles on.
It's fake news. Pelosi's statement is fake news. The bad news for Pelosi is that now just about everybody understands that it's fake news. According to recent NBC/WSJ polling the president's favorability is underwater. Much is made of it being the lowest for any president since such polls have been in existence. Disapproval of Donald Trump outweighs approval by 47% to 43% among those who were asked for a net rating of -4. It would seem like a problem for Donald Trump and the Republicans until you compare his numbers to Nancy Pelosi's. In the same poll Pelosi is viewed positively by a total of only 19% of respondents while 44% view her negatively for a net rating of -25. The poll was taken last week before the president's speech, so it's fair to expect that the next round of polling will show improvement for Donald Trump and deterioration for Nancy Pelosi.
In a CBS poll of 857 people who watched the speech, 76% of respondents approved of the president's speech while 24% disapproved. Among African Americans who watched the speech, 47% approved of what they heard while 53% disapproved. Even though disapprovals outweigh approvals, 47% approval is a quite remarkable when you consider that Donald Trump received only 8% of the African American vote in the November, 2016 election. There is a reason for the almost positive reception by a core Democrat constituency. President Trump laid out plans that focus on jobs, opportunity, and economic growth, and he explained why rolling back the Obama legacy was a necessary step in getting us there.
Meanwhile, the fossilized leadership of the Democratic party holds firm in their opposition to everything President Trump proposed, even when it seems as though he was force feeding some of their own proposals back to them. They allow themselves such grand latitude on their alleged principles. They think they will be carried by their own Tea Party — those petulant post-election protesters with their pink hats and bodily part costumes, and the town hall protesters who come armed with their Organizing For America manuals instructing them how to disrupt. Good luck with that. Sure, protesters and party leaders are on the same page, invincible in their righteous anger. That one so low, so unfit as Donald Trump could presume to win an election that rightfully belonged to Hillary Clinton was an insufferable injustice. They are the good, they are the compassionate, they are the enlightened, and they are entitled to have one of their own in charge. The rage is palpable.
It's fun to watch. Donald Trump's sheer boorishness goaded the Democrats into coming out in the open as the party and the movement that offers the gift of its own saintly superiority — and nothing else, really. The rest of us are deplorable, of course. We got that straight from Hillary the enlightened and most qualified.
The political landscape is in the midst of a shift that began with the Tea Party uprising. Trump won over the Tea Party faithful with his willingness to fight, and suddenly a new coalition of disaffected blue collar Democrats, traditional Republicans, Tea Partiers, libertarians, and Christian conservatives has come together behind Trump, with some reluctant NeverTrump elitists thrown in because they have nowhere else to go. At the same time Trump is gradually winning over African Americans and Hispanics.
With blue collar and minority Democrats giving Trump a serious look, the Democratic party is on the verge of collapse. The rise of Tom Perez to head the DNC solidifies leftist control of the party and all but guarantees a continuation of the strategies and policies that have been to the disadvantage of so many Americans for so long. With President Trump in the driver's seat, Democrats have no choice be to oppose him. They will be opposing economic growth, jobs, and opportunity. In place of improved well being and security for Americans, they offer themselves and their wonderfulness. They are the party of self regard. They can't be defeated soundly enough.