Could you advise them not to break anything, at least? Because some of them are having trouble with that. Unless I missed it, between O, Hillary, and Trump, only Trump has said something specific over the last nine days to try to discourage people from being thuggish to their political opponents.
As odd as it appears to the rest of the country for people to be protesting the outcome of an election, I think it’s mostly a case of the left working out its shock upon realizing too late just how weak they are nationally — especially the younger ones who barely remember Bush and think that Democratic presidents are a fact of life. Some of it is specific to Trump: I doubt Romney’s victory would have antagonized the left the way Trump’s has after a demagogic campaign, the “Access Hollywood” tape, and multiple sexual-assault allegations. But I also doubt they’d be as despondent if they hadn’t just endured their third red “wave” in the last four elections. They started 2009 with total control of the federal government; they’ll finish 2016 having lost it all and been wiped out at the state level. All that’s left among the rubble is Obama’s strong job approval rating, which ended up being worth noting. The “emerging Democratic majority” is a hard myth to let go of if you’re a Democrat, but it’s been torn away for the moment. The protests, I think, are liberals’ way of trying to reassure other liberals that there are still plenty of them out there even though you wouldn’t know it from looking at American legislatures.
You can sense some annoyance from Obama about that too when he talks about how many people didn’t vote. More than 100 protesters were arrested in Oregon last week — and more than half of them hadn’t voted. As well as Trump did in turning out the white working-class vote, especially in the Rust Belt states, that was only half the story of his victory. The other half was Clinton underperforming with Obama’s Democratic coalition. Mass demonstrations of a newly elected president are a, shall we say, imperfect substitute for election-day turnout, and O’s biting his tongue a bit in not being more directly accusatory about that. As far as him not asking the protesters to stand down, though, think of the position he’s in. In two months he’ll be back to being an “activist,” and right now left-wing activists want to protest. He’s already asked the country to give Trump a fair chance; all he’d accomplish by telling his own side to quiet down for a few months is to annoy the ones who want to vent a little unhappiness. Besides, Obama may see some virtue in the opposition reminding the strongman Trump in a visible way that there are people out there willing to resist if he doesn’t play nice as president. A little civic muscle-flexing isn’t always a bad thing, especially if you’re a soon-to-be ex-president who’s expected to help build that muscle in retirement.
By the way, at this same press conference O said that he hopes Trump will stand up to Russia when it violates international norms. Exit question via Ben Shapiro: Um, when the hell did Obama ever do that in eight years?