So you’ve had roughly nine months since the new sheriff rode into the Oval Office, with the balance of power in both the House and the Senate remaining the same. Despite the constant hangdog outlook of most cable news hosts, surely somebody must feel like they’re coming out on top, right? Either conservatives or liberals have to be either doing better today or, at a minimum, feeling more optimistic that things are going their way.
Actually, both sides might have reason for optimism. The GOP finally controls pretty much the entire federal government. (At least on paper, assuming you ignore all the deep state stories.) Some bills are being signed into law, though none of the really big-ticket items are coming to fruition. Still, Trump is signing executive orders and filling judicial seats. How depressed can you be?
At the same time, while the DNC may be running pitifully low on cash, liberals report that they’re donating to individual candidates and progressive causes at very high rates. They’re networking and attending protests and rallies all over the country. New candidates are cropping up all over looking to get into the game. Trump could be the best thing to happen to liberals in ages, at least according to some.
But which group feels like they’re “winning” right now in the battle for the heart and soul of the country? According to the latest survey from Pew, it’s… neither of them. Everyone thinks they are losing. (LA Times)
Nearly a year after the election of a president who promised Americans would win so much they would grow “tired of winning,” a funny thing has happened in American politics — both sides think they’re losing.
That lose-lose mood, which is on display daily on Capitol Hill, is strongly reinforced by a study of public opinion released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. More than 6 in 10 Americans say they believe their side is losing more than it’s winning on the issues that matter most; only about 1 in 4 think their side is mostly winning.
That attitude might not be surprising from Democrats, who, with the election, lost control of all three branches of the federal government. More strikingly, Republicans, too, think they’re getting the short end of the stick.
Pew is tackling a tough subject here because they need to start out by defining everyone in the country based on which “side” they are on. And for all but the most hard boiled partisans, that can be difficult sometimes. Also, there’s a significant percentage who don’t really spend much time watching the news, rarely vote, and don’t consider themselves playing for one team or the other.
But with all that said, these results are kind of understandable. It’s tough for liberals to feel like they’re winning (at least for today) when the only “victories” they can achieve in Washington currently are stopping the Republicans from doing something or blocking the nomination of an appointee here and there. Liberals, as embodied by the Democrats, are now the official Party of No beyond any doubt. And many of them are reveling in the role. But still, those who say they are “winning” are in a solid minority.
But why don’t conservatives feel the love? They do slightly better than what Pew calls the “solid liberals” in this regard, with at least a plurality thinking they are winning. But it’s still not really even close to a majority. Perhaps that’s because of the aforementioned lack of legislative progress. Conservatives were told for years on end that the GOP would need to control the whole ball of wax before their agenda could be enacted. Now the train has pulled into the station and mostly what we see is infighting and talk of scandals. There are things getting done (woefully underreported in much of the press), but the really big items remain beyond our reach.
So nobody is winning. Does that mean everyone is losing? I can’t bring myself to think that way. Right now we could be approaching the nine month mark of President Hillary Clinton’s first term, with Neil Gorsuch having never gotten anywhere near the Supreme Court and national single payer healthcare well on the way. We may not have true tax reform, but we’re closing in on tax cuts which is better than nothing (assuming they figure out how to cut spending along with it).
Sure, it might not feel much like “winning” at the moment. But it’s all too easy to envision that alternate scenario where “losing” would barely begin to describe the situation.