The Tea Party movement sparked a wave of enthusiasm that led to one of the largest midterm victories for the Republican Party in 2010. Liberal activists hope to channel a similar wave in resistance to the Trump administration.
While heavy liberal attendance at town hall meetings is often disproportionate of the actual population, heavy enthusiasm among the progressive wing of the Democratic Party seems to be energizing the party that is attempting to recover from a stunning election defeat. However, just as the Tea Party movement in 2009, it leaves party leaders in a conundrum: to work with a new administration, or to be “the party of no.”
The latest example of that conundrum is the confirmation fight over Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed 54-45 on April 7th after the Senate invoked the so-called nuclear option, which removes the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees.
On the surface, Gorsuch is a well-qualified Supreme Court nominee who, under normal circumstances, would likely be easily confirmed. Indeed, according to public opinion polls, the public at large is overwhelmingly supportive of confirming him. However, with heavy resistance from Democratic activists who don’t believe in compromising with a president that they feel is illegitimate, the nomination is in doubt. Energized by defeat of the GOP health care bill, Gorsuch was the the first Supreme Court nominee filibustered since 1968, leading Senate Republicans to change the long-standing rule of requiring 60 votes.
Some objected to Gorsuch on policy concerns. California Senator Dianne Feinstein and Minnesota Senator Al Franken both questioned past court decisions by Gorsuch. Others were opposed due to his ambiguous tone in answering questions before the judiciary committee: “one could not see where he stood, even on big and long-settled cases,” Feinstein said.
Republicans disagreed with Democrats, noting Gorsuch’s lengthy legal resume. Senate Judiciary Chair and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley said that “Democrats are making excuses to block Gorsuch because they can’t lay a glove on his qualifications.” Only three democrats joined in supporting Gorsuch’s candidacy, the lowest amount of opposing party votes in decades for a Supreme Court nominee.
At the heart of the issue, is the so-called “resistance” movement from progressive activists, who seek to provide momentum to stifle the Trump presidency in all facets.
The movement of impassioned liberal voters will likely continue to provide intrigue to an already intriguing administration, and the fight over Gorsuch’s nomination is just the beginning of that “resistance”.