Ever since Donald Trump announced his presidential campaign and shot to the top of the polls, some political analysts have blamed liberals and liberalism for his rise. (For a long list of examples, type the words “Trump liberals fault” into Google.)
I find this argument to be pretty silly. Trump grew out of the political right, including Fox News and the false “birther” conspiracy theory. He was able to become president because the Republican establishment ultimately rallied to him. Liberals clearly failed in their attempts to stop Trump, but they did not create him.
My Times colleague Sabrina Tavernise took on many of these issues in a piece this weekend entitled, “Are Liberals Helping Trump?” I encourage you to read both the article and the comments on Facebook, where many readers took issue with the premise of the piece.
As you read them, keep in mind that there is a big difference between being responsible for Trump and helping him. Liberals are not responsible for Trump. But they should be reflective about the fact that they haven’t yet come up with an effective strategy for beating him.
Doing so will depend on winning over a significant number of Americans who voted for him. Simply calling him beyond the pale won’t persuade most of them. They heard that argument for much of 2016, and it didn’t sway them. The effective argument will need to be different.
Perhaps the smartest piece I’ve yet read on opposing Trump is still a November Op-Ed by Luigi Zingales, talking about the strategies that worked — and did not work — for opposing Silvio Berlusconi in Italy: Treat him like an ordinary politician, not a caricature, and don’t forget how much support he has.
The full Opinion report from The Times follows, including Peter Van Buren, who argues for the moral necessity of leaking information under some circumstances by talking about his own experience during the Iraq War.