Tens of thousands of anti-Trump demonstrators (and in some cases rioters) have taken to the streets to protest Donald Trump’s victory last Tuesday.
The protesters seem to be a collection of those who supported Bernie Sanders and those who show up for Black Lives Matter demonstrations. If more of these two groups had shown up to vote in a few key states, Hillary Clinton might now be working on the Clinton restoration project at the White House.
While there are still several million mail-in ballots to be counted in California and a few other states, which will certainly add to the popular vote margin for Clinton, the fact is that American presidential elections are decided in the Electoral College, and Trump appears to have won more electoral college votes (306) than any Republican since George H.W. Bush in 1988. In other words, in the arena that mattered, Trump’s victory was decisive. No Republican had won Michigan or Pennsylvania since 1988, or Wisconsin since 1984.
Of course, with Clinton’s majority in the popular vote, some of her supporters are now demanding that the “national will” be honored, and that electors from states backing Trump should vote for Clinton. This, of course, will not happen. So, too, none of the Hollywood personalities who promised to move to Canada if Trump won have yet chartered flights to Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. One wonders why these people never threaten to move to Mexico.
The Trump victory, accompanied by sweeping Republican victories down-ballot in the Senate and House, state legislatures and governors’ races, provides hope to conservatives and Republicans for a reversal of much of what they believe has been the damage done by the Obama administration in its two terms.
One area where the tone of the administration should change immediately is U.S. relations with Israel. On the day after his victory, Trump spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and invited him to Washington. Netanyahu seemed pleased that Israel once again would have a friend in the White House. Contrast this with the posture of President Barack Obama, who set the tone on his first day in office by making his first call to a foreign leader to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Later, Obama helped organize a boycott of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress in 2015; walked out on him during one meeting in Washington; made sure his State Department offered up strident condemnations either through press secretaries or top administration officials of every bit of news from Israel on any construction project across the Green Line; and blamed Israel for the lack of progress in the peace process.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Obama administration’s attitude, other than showing the love to Muslim countries, was its obsession with securing a nuclear deal with Iran, which involved American concessions on pretty much every negotiating point pushed by the mullahs over the long months of the negotiating process. Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to serve as Iran’s lawyer at times, repeatedly defending the giveaways, and later, lying about American bribes to get hostages released and Iranian violations of agreement terms after the deal was signed.
Kerry thanked the Iranians for releasing American sailors they had captured and humiliated. He and Obama seemed comfortable to have American special forces fighting side by side with Iranian forces in Iraq and Syria, in each case extending Iran’s sphere of influence in both countries and the region. Obama said that Iran (the leader of the “Death to America” movement abroad) deserved to have its day as a regional power. Obama, a man with thick ideological blinders on every issue that matters to his “legacy” (something he constantly talks about), seemed unable to even consider the reality of how the Iran deal would play out in the region, once it transformed the balance of power. In essence, he chose for America to effectively abandon any leadership role in the Middle East or elsewhere, a position consistent with his degradation of the American military’s size and capabilities. He seemed to bear a special pride for opening the U.S. up to Iran (and Cuba). Those openings provided rich benefits to the leadership of our former foes, but there is no evidence that any of these openings changed the character of the regimes we were dealing with, or provided any benefit to the citizens of these countries.
Throughout his 16-month campaign for the presidency, Trump was a tough critic of the Iran deal, and promised to scrap it or renegotiate it. Now he will have his chance. Of course, the other members of the P5+1 negotiating team on the Iran nuclear deal are for now all committed to preserving it. Feckless as always when commercial interests can be advanced, several see new business opportunities, and simply ignore the strategic threats from a more powerful, better financed Iranian regime that is seeking to expand its military footprint and dominance in the vacuum Obama created. Trump will, however, have the support of many members of Congress, mostly from his party, in any effort to toughen sanctions and call out Iranian violations of the deal, rather than obscure them.
It is an open question where congressional Democrats will be when Iran is considered in the new Congress. A handful of Democrats opposed the deal when it was voted on in 2015 — just four Democratic senators and 25 Democratic House members. After their shattering and surprising defeat on Tuesday, Democrats seem to be quickly creating the circular firing squad that was widely predicted that Republicans would establish after a Trump defeat. Now many “Never Trump”-ers, seeing chances for Republicans to roll back much of the Obama agenda, seem to be willing to fall into line for a united party. Democrats are demonstrating their new problems in the fight over who will become the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign after leaked emails showed how she and the DNC favored Clinton over Sanders during the nomination process. Interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile was disgraced and fired by her employer, CNN, after WikiLeaks revealed that she provided debate questions to the Clinton team. One wonders if CNN knew this all along, and how it would have reacted had the story not gone public. A good guess is that with the brand of “journalism” practiced this year by CNN and others, it would have buried the story and kept Brazile on.
Now Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, one of two Muslim-Americans in Congress, a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a Sanders supporter, and a frequent critic of Israel, may be the favorite for the DNC job if he wants it. Nothing could provide more evidence that the Democrats are moving even further left, and see the Clinton defeat as a rejection of a center-left approach. The likely new Senate minority leader, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, endorsed Ellison for the job, probably reflecting his fear of a challenge for the job he expects to have from someone to his left, such as Elizabeth Warren.
If the national Democratic Party is comfortable with Ellison as its leader, the chances for bipartisan action on Iran (and many other things) may diminish. There is almost no one more committed to the Obama agenda across the board than Ellison. Senators, of course, are free to do what they want, and with Democrats holding 25 of the 33 Senate seats up in 2018, including nine in states won by Trump — Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and West Virginia — alienating a group (wealthy liberal Jews) that has historically provided large funding for Democratic campaigns may be a bad idea. So some may become new skeptics of the deal, at least until they win re-election.
In any case, the atmosphere for pro-Israel activity in Washington has dramatically improved.
Richard Baehr is the co-founder and chief political correspondent for the American Thinker, and is a visiting fellow at the Jewish Policy Center.