As recently as 2009, America’s liberals could look to a glorious future. Barack Obama, newly installed in the Oval Office, promised an American transformation. Democrats held 257 seats in the House of Representatives. There were 60 Democratic senators. There were 29 Democratic governors and the party held 56 percent of all seats in the state legislatures. Better yet, they could look forward to an inevitable progressive triumph.
This was guaranteed by “The Emerging Democratic Majority” by Ruy Teixeira and John B. Judis. Its pages, complete with lots of cheerful statistics, showed how the nation’s Afro-American/Hispanic/Asian demographic destiny would guarantee perpetual liberal domination.
Now, here we are in 2017. Sauron of Mar-a-Mordor is ruling and ruining Washington. There are only 194 Democrats in the House of Representative. They have 48 senators but will need to defend 25 seats in 2018, five of them in states where Hillary Clinton received less than 40 percent of the vote. They have held on to just 16 governors and 40 percent of the state legislative seats.
The suffering among Maine’s liberals has not been quite so severe, but they too have had to endure painful setbacks. They had hoped that several hundred negative editorials and a steady media pounding would rid the Blaine House of its resident beast in 2014. Yet still he lingers while the man chosen to replace him has disappeared from public view. Few people know what he’s doing or where he is these day. No one at all really cares. Republicans recovered the Senate and increased their margin in the House. Bruce Poliquin held on to the Second Congressional District.
The victory parade of liberal dreams will be delayed indefinitely. The brass bands must stand down and the celebratory fireworks placed in storage until happier times return. For liberals, the time has come to resist. The length of the things they must resist (Wall Street greed, corruption, racism, fascism, capitalism, homophobia, hate, Islamophobia, xenophobia, nativism, ignorance, lack of empathy, insensitivity, misogyny, authoritarianism, anti-Semitism, climate denialism or “eco-hate”), makes every aspect of life a target-rich environment.
Meryl Streep, Madonna and Ashley Judd. Robert De Niro, Lena Dunham, Susan Sarandon, Cher and many lesser celebrities have taken leadership roles in the “Resistance” on the national level, but Maine’s Resistance lacks glitter (unless we count Stephen King, who fulminates from his warm Florida refuge).
Less famous but equally idealistic citizens have taken up the cause amidst the snow and ice that surrounds us. Knitters in various Maine locations have knitted crass hats and sent them down to Washington, atop an assortment of addled heads, to protest Trump’s inauguration. Yet he’s president still.
If no Maine artists have demanded that Ivanka Trump remove their work from her walls it’s only because she has never brought any of their work. In Washington, Anne Mahlum, owner of a trendy gym, detected Ivanka enrolled in her gym under an alias and demands she depart unless he denounces her father and all his works. Unfortunately, no Maine gym has detected the vile woman’s presence so that method of resistance is unavailable here.
A band of San Francisco Resisters operating the “#GrabYourWallet” movement has called for a boycott of L.L. Bean because Linda Bean contributed to Trump’s campaign. Few Maine Resisters have taken up the challenge. Even the Portland Press Herald’s foremost roboliberal, Bill Nemitz, immediately denounced this pointless folly.
The Democratic National Committee seems to be encouraging attacks on Senator Collins because she voted to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General. Worse, she defended him against charges of racism. Rep. Diane Russell of Portland, a Bernie Sanders delegate who got some notice at the 2016 National Convention, responded to the call, telling the Portland Press Herald that the “[Collins] never sticks her nose out for anything. She sits on the fence until the last moment and talks out both sides of her mouth. So why would she pick the most racist, homophobic person to suddenly come out of her shell for?”
Other Maine Resisters have taken up the call to denounce Collins as a secret ultra-right winger. This revelation is a more than a little shocking to ultra-right wingers such as myself.
Strangely, such stellar liberal stalwarts as Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein have faced crowds of protesters for failing to vote against every single Trump nominee, while Collins has escaped with nothing more than inflamed letters to the editor. These demonstrations show a rift between the Resisters and Democratic politician, who are content to obstruct and criticize.
Some of the leftmost groups have pledge to never give Trump the “chance to govern” and one pledge reads, “As we resist, we will create new governing institutions, new economic relationships, and new ways of being human.” Even Diane Russell might be embarrassed to hear such overwrought babble. This clash of methods may yet prove embarrassing to Democratic Party nationally.
Now, “#ResistPortland” has just sprung up as one of over a thousand Resist Meetup Groups. It has scheduled a meeting to discuss the campaign for a National Popular Vote on February 23. This suggests no ambition to make Maine ungovernable, so I guess we can all relax for a while.