Progressives showing classic symptoms of grief

March 20, 2017

How could the voters be so stupid? Boom! - heads exploded. That was on display recently (news story, Feb. 20): "Carper, Coons get an earful."

Of course, some of this had to do with how unexpected was the outcome of last November's presidential election. Many Republicans believed the polls, too. Count this scribbler as one of those.

One thing we have here is that progressives are experiencing classic symptoms of grief, or to be more specific, the five stages of grief. Pastors, psychologists and counselors witness this daily, often associated with death of a loved one, or divorce. These can be described briefly and perhaps simplistically, this way:

• Denial: Refusal to believe what happened. "Mom can't be dead, can she?"
• Anger: Accusing others: How dare you let this happen?
• Bargaining: Trying to effect a better outcome.
• Depression: Listlessness and inaction.
• Acceptance.

Some on the political left are still mired in that first one. Beginning the day after the election, when progressives woke up to the horrifying news that Mrs. Clinton wasn't president-elect, they have been denying the outcome. Surely it must have been the Russians' fault. Or it happened because of FBI Director James Comey. Or because of the stupid people in "fly-over" America.

Two. Blaming the Russians or the FBI is part of the second one. Surely it can't be because the stupid voters in Wisconsin and Michigan actually preferred Mr. Trump, could it? Apparently, the New York Times thought this when they sent a reporter out to eastern Iowa, only to find that the men drinking coffee in the café were quite pleased with President Trump. Oops.

Three. So today, we find ourselves somewhere between two and three. In this case, three involved getting senators like Tom Carper and Chris Coons to vote against President Trump's cabinet nominees (only one was defeated/withdrew). And definitely against the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. This despite the fact that virtually all these appointees are people of great accomplishment and intelligence.

Or is this an argument that the CEO of Exxon/Mobil, or a billionaire investor, or a Wall Street banker, or a state attorney general, or a congressman who's a doctor, are somehow incompetent to manage a federal agency? What this is, too often, is the unstated assertion that only career politicians are qualified to run the government.

Four and five. We aren't there yet. At least, not while we note that the American Civil Liberties Union is organizing resistance to anything the Trump administration does.

A lot of Congress members are experiencing big opposition demonstrations at their constituent events these days, including Republicans from the middle of the country. When you think about it, this isn't surprising even in reliably Republican districts and states. Progressives are found, at least in some numbers, everywhere. Given the level of anger and denial, this is inevitable.

Finally, some might think that the dust cloud surrounding the repeal and replacement of Obamacare shows that the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are incapable of governing. Apparently these folks have never observed a legislative body. What we witness today is the way it is supposed to work.

Major legislation doesn't often appear fully formed. Nor are any president's proposals often enacted without alteration. The legislative process involves hearings, debate, amendment and a lot of votes. We've just begun.


Reid Beveridge has covered politics in Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Delaware and Washington, D.C. He is now retired at Broadkill Beach.



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