One hundred days into his administration, President Trump has few legislative achievements to his name. But he has forced liberals to experience the near-apocalyptic revulsion that conservatives have often felt toward Democratic presidents. In doing so, he has unwittingly created a new movement in American politics, as Democrats channel the sort of all-encompassing outrage that has long fueled grass-roots conservatism.
For decades, Democrats have envied the Republicans’ passionate, locally attuned base. It turns out that what Democrats were missing was a sense of existential emergency. Mr. Trump has provided it.
Objectively, there’s no comparison between the conservative demonization of Mr. Obama and the progressive case against Mr. Trump. People on the right saw Mr. Obama as a Kenyan-born secret Muslim with a hidden agenda to hobble American power and a health care reform plan to establish “death panels.” None of that is true.
People on the left believe that Mr. Trump has incited hatred against minorities, and boasted about grabbing women by their genitals. Democrats think that the president and his family are blatantly profiting off the presidency and that he welcomed the help of a hostile foreign power during the election. All this is grounded in fact.
Facts aside, there is an emotional symmetry between the conservative reaction to past Democratic presidents and the liberal response to Mr. Trump. Suddenly, left-of-center people get what it’s like to have a president who is the living negation of all they value, a president who makes them ashamed before their children and terrified for their future. Now they’ve learned what it’s like to worry that malevolent foreign conspirators are manipulating American affairs. And these feelings, it turns out, are an extremely powerful goad to political action.
Michelle Goldberg, “Learning to Hate Like the Right”, The New York Times (30 April 2017), SR7.