The pros and cons of grassroots opposition
By Dorian Grayson
Donald Trump has had a hard time in office so far. Despite bragging that his first 100 days were the most productive and successful of any President thus far, he has faced much resistance and been unable to actually achieve much. From even before he was sworn into office, protests have raged all over the world in resistance to the Trump administration and the direction being pushed by the Republican party.
The most recent example is the American Health Care Act, which the Trump administration refused to market as Trumpcare because of its unpopularity from the start. But Speaker of the House Paul Ryan R-Wis and his team in Congress were sure that they would get the votes.
“We will have 218 [votes] when this comes to the floor,” Speaker Ryan said on March 7.
Just 17 days later, after dropping the American Health Care Act, Speaker Ryan said, “Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains. And, well, we’re feeling those growing pains today. We came really close today but we came up short. I spoke to the president just a little while ago. I told him that the best thing I think to do is to pull this bill and he agreed with that decision.”
What happened in those 17 days? Grassroots resistance. Citizens and members of both parties went to places of government and protested. Republican members of Congress returned to local town halls to find themselves being booed for supporting the health care legislation.
“I thought this repeal bill would sail through. It was the president’s number one priority. And what was incredible about this process was the phone calls – we had 1,959 phone calls in opposition to the American Health Care Act. We had 30 for it” Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill. said.
The American Health Care Act wasn’t stopped by congressional Democrats. Republicans intended to pass this with their party’s majority, but failed. Congressional Republicans were told repeatedly by the people that they were supposed to represent that they were against the bill.
This isn’t the only major demonstration of the power of the people, nor will it likely be the last with the Trump administration. But it’s also not a golden bullet.
Justice Neil Gorsuch was appointed to the Supreme Court despite a battle from Senate Democrats. The Democrats filibustered Gorsuch’s original nomination, depriving the Republicans of the amount of votes they needed to appoint Gorsuch. The Republicans did, however, have enough votes to change the rules to where they would have enough votes to appoint Gorsuch. So they did.
While there was outcry about Judge Gorsuch, none of it seemed to touch the Republicans. This is the same group that took Judge Merrick Garland, whom President Obama nominated, and refused to even have a hearing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked about this disregard for procedure in an interview and simply laughed. No matter how many calls were made – the numbers aren’t clear or publicly available – Judge Gorsuch was going to be appointed to the Supreme Court.
It is upsetting that when the voice of the people is so well articulated, that the government is unable to abide by it. Whether the lack of representation of these views will continue past the midterm elections remains to be seen.