The day President Donald Trump won the election, the opposition was on. Marches! Signs! Hysterics! Trump opponents all over the country made sure their voices were heard. The echoes from their protests were supposed to continue through Trump’s presidency. After all, how could this country have elected a person like Donald Trump to be president?
Even in the reliably Republican state of Alabama, angry “constituents” confronted Gary Palmer and Bradley Byrne at town hall meetings in Birmingham and Mobile. Mo Brooks put a hold on his meetings because of the threat of violence and property.
The TV cameras loved the turmoil — not just local news but the likes of CNN and MSNBC. If this was happening in Alabama, then there were serious questions about Trump’s legitimacy, they all claimed.
In the Yellowhammer state, groups such as Indivisible Alabama and its zombie-like followers relentlessly harassed political opponents on social media.
Never mind what the vote totals were last November (62 percent for Trump, 34 percent for Clinton in Alabama). Something was happening, and it was onward to the 2018 midterm elections.
In the middle of all this, the Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions to be U.S. attorney general. After some wrangling and one disgraced governor later in Montgomery, Alabamians were going to have an opportunity to elect a new U.S. senator.
Suddenly, there should have been ample opportunity for those in the so-called Resist Trump movement to show their political might. From Grand Bay to Bridgeport, Florence to Cottonwood and all points between, the election process would provide all kinds of arenas for protesters to shout down Republicans at political forums, debates and media appearances.
If a protest movement were serious about making its voice heard, this Republican primary election should have been the time for them to show their numbers. Not only would you have the eyes and ears of the voters, but a sitting member of the Senate (for now) in Sen. Luther Strange and another in the House of Representatives in Rep. Mo Brooks.
Instead, for the most part, the state has heard crickets. Campaign events have yielded sparse attendance. The few to show at candidate forums and debates have been active members of the Republican Party, a handful of reporters and candidates seeking other offices within the state.
Where have you been, Resist Trump?
Granted, there are still two phases remaining in this special election cycle, a runoff and the special election.
However, since Gov. Kay Ivey moved the special election up to this year we haven’t heard a peep out of this supposed grassroots movement, especially on the campaign trail.
Showing up at a town hall and trying to influence a member of Congress is one thing. But the real prize in politics will not be earned by coercion and yelling during constituents’ event. It’s at the ballot box.
Even money in politics is no match for the impact votes have in influencing a lawmaker’s or executive officeholder’s decision-making. Hillary Clinton had nearly $800 million backing her candidacy in last year’s presidential election. Donald Trump had barely half that backing his candidacy.
Trump won and did so without kowtowing to usual big-money interests. He instead appealed directly to the voters.
The obvious conclusion is that the whole post-election anti-Trump protests in Alabama were nothing more than Astroturf. That was the suspicion all along. Now we know it.
The plan was to hit Republican members of Congress in Trump’s first 100 days. Those lawmakers would see the 50 or so half-crazed liberals who lived in their congressional districts, be scared for their seats and more than likely break from Trump’s political agenda.
Did the buses hauling people to these events break down? Did people stop caring as much on day 101?
If people cared as much as we were led to believe, we would not be looking at a potential record low-turnout event in this special election. This is not an election for dogcatcher, county constable or some other low-level office. It is an election for the U.S. Senate.
Being a member of the Senate is rarified air in the swamps of Washington, D.C. As we saw in the “skinny” repeal vote of “Obamacare” earlier this month, one vote in the Senate can make a huge difference.
Once the political parties select their candidates, the special election will be on Dec. 12, two weeks before Christmas Day. Most people tune out of politics during that time of year and likely will not want to hear negative campaign ads in between renditions of “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Will this anti-Trump movement find new life by then? I doubt it. And if it does not, their absence will confirm what we knew all along: It was not a serious political movement in the first place.