This week, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., accused President-elect Donald Trump of being an illegitimate president. He said: “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. … When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something.”
Lewis wasn’t the only person claiming that Trump had been elected illegitimately. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who just last week was preaching about why it’s important to “(be) a mensch,” wrote that it is “an act of patriotism” to “declare the man about to move into the White House illegitimate.” Jehmu Greene, a Democratic National Committee chair candidate, said that Trump was “allegedly elected.”
In response, another DNC chair candidate, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., upped the ante. He said he wouldn’t be attending the inauguration because “(He) will not celebrate a man who preaches a politics of division and hate.” Ellison spent most of his career lauding the hateful and divisive Nation of Islam.
Meanwhile, Trump met with Martin Luther King III at Trump Tower; King emerged in the lobby after the meeting and explained: “(Trump) said that he is going to represent all Americans. … I believe that’s his intent, but I think we also have to consistently engage with pressure, public pressure.” Trump also met with entertainer Steve Harvey; they discussed poverty and incoming Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, and Harvey then stated: “I found him in our meeting both congenial and sincere. Trump wants to help with the situations in the inner cities. … I walked away feeling like I had just talked with a man who genuinely wants to make a difference in this area.”
So, do most Americans believe that Trump is a vicious racist, an illegitimate president who must be treated with scorn and disdain? Of course not. While Trump is highly unpopular for an incoming president — he has the lowest approval rating in modern history, at 40 percent — nearly all Americans think Trump was elected legitimately. A majority of them don’t think Trump is racist.
Yet the left continues to double down on fiction instead of banking on fact.
In the past, the media and the Democrats were able to peddle extreme fictions because they had more powerful bullhorns than their targets. Former Gov. Mitt Romney could safely be labeled a tax cheat by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., without fear of being blasted with a public relations tsunami; Vice President Joe Biden could state that Romney wanted to put black people back in chains; President Barack Obama could lie about the state of U.S.-Russia relations; the media could trot out old, unsubstantiated stories about Romney’s supposed gay-bashing. And Romney couldn’t do a thing.
That’s not the case with Trump. Love him or hate him, Trump knows how to get attention, and his 20 million followers on Twitter give him quicker access to a wider audience than virtually any single media outlet or personality. That means the media and the Democrats need to button up their criticism rather than throw the kitchen sink.
But they’re used to throwing the kitchen sink.
One problem: Trump has a public relations trebuchet, and he’ll simply launch every kitchen appliance available in response.
If the left wants to keep marginalizing itself, it ought to continue leveling every radical allegation it can find against Trump. If the left wants to defeat Trump, it should stick to the facts.
Given recent history, that seems highly unlikely.