Despite losing the General Election to him, it took until this week’s address for Congress for Democrats to stop underestimating President Trump.
I say this as someone who has long been a Trump critic. As a diehard conservative, Trump’s election felt like a significant step back for the movement, but I learned in January of last year that he’s not to be underestimated. After all, my preferred candidate (and then boss) lost the nomination to the man.
That’s why I can’t help but laugh when this makes national news:
The post-speech debates turned out to be nearly identical to the one prevalent throughout the general election, when Republicans were continually hopeful that each isolated instance of discipline or each teleprompter-centric speech represented The Big Pivot and Democrats were convinced that voters would never tolerate Trump’s wild swings. But they did.
Because of that searing experience, the idea that Democrats have to start taking the president more seriously as a political operator had more currency after the speech.
“Following his address to Congress Tuesday that pundits graded as his most presidential moment to date, we cannot sit back and assume his numbers will stay dismal on their own all the way through 2018,” the Priorities USA Action super PAC in a post-speech memo circulated on Wednesday. “The bottom line: if Democrats are going to reenergize base voters who did not turn out at all last year and win persuadable swing voters in key battleground districts and states, they cannot just hope Donald Trump remains his own worst enemy.”
There are plenty of reasons to remain skeptical of Trump as a leader. His economic vision continues to be backwards and protectionist. His administration’s views on Russia are potentially dangerous. The one thing we shouldn’t underestimate is Trump’s ability to connect with Middle America.
On the Supreme Court appointment, a number of cabinet appointments, and his views on military spending, Trump is a breath of fresh air. His media strategy, while at times offensive and counterproductive, at least takes the power out of the hands of the liberal elites.
I learned over a year ago not to underestimate Trump. I’m surprised it took more than a General Election for Democrats to learn the same lesson.