OPINION: Liberals Are Trump’s Best Foil

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J.T. Young Former Treasury Department and OMB Official
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Polling is confirming what many have sensed: Liberals have helped bring Trump back.

Certainly, the president has helped himself with notable recent victories, but the Left has been his perfect foil. In effect, they have accentuated President Trump and his accomplishments by making him the only alternative to them.

It was not long ago that President Trump was mired in opinion polling’s depths. According to Rasmussen, Trump hit his low job approval/disapproval rating of 38/62 percent on 8/2/17.

While Trump was descending, liberals were (up)rising. Enraged by Trump’s 2016 victory and emboldened by his fall in the polls, the Left took increasingly high-profile stands against the president and administration.

Of course, the latest and highest profile of these stands was their orchestrated and extended effort against the administration’s then-Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Unlike the other more one-off episodes, this sustained attack lasted for weeks and consumed the nation in the process.

When we look back, we may well remember liberals’ Kavanaugh confirmation fight as their counterattack’s high water mark  There can be little doubt that the Left has helped Trump up from his depths. And that momentum now appears to be picking up steam.

According to Rasmussen’s 10/10 release of polling on the Kavanaugh confirmation, 62 percent of voters are angry at the nominee’s Senate treatment and 42 percent are very angry.  In comparison, 56 percent are angry at his accuser’s Senate treatment and 35 percent are very angry. The net effect on both favors President Trump.

Considering those numbers, it is not surprising that on 10/8, following Kavanaugh’s Saturday confirmation, Rasmussen showed President Trump had a 51/47-percent approval rating. From his nadir just 14 months ago, that is an improvement of 13 percent on the upside, and 15 percent off the downside. His approval is also 5-percent higher than the 46 percent of the popular vote he won in 2016, and his disapproval one percent lower than the 48 percent Clinton won against him in 2016.

Similarly, congressional Republicans also appeared to benefit. Rasmussen’s 10/10 generic congressional ballot poll showed Republicans and Democrats tied at 45 percent apiece. That is only Republicans’ second tie since May in this poll.

Of course, President Trump has helped himself with policy achievements. At home, there has been the first comprehensive tax reform in three decades and two Supreme Court nominees in two years  Abroad, there has been a major North American trade renegotiation and the almost complete disappearance of ISIS from mention in the press.

Liberals, however, have unmistakably helped President Trump, too. By repeatedly stoking their own outrage, they have also increasingly stoked a response to it. In doing so, they have elevated President Trump as an alternative to them — if not simply THE alternative to them.

Because liberals are easily America’s smallest ideological group (just 26 percent, according to 2016 presidential exit polling), the odds greatly favor President Trump when they take action. Odds are that the remaining three-quarters of Americans are less likely to join them in their outrage than to take a different position.

This presents Trump a huge opportunity. And the more strident the Left is, the less likely the other three-quarters of America to join them — and the bigger President Trump’s opening. Yet, as the Kavanaugh confirmation shows, liberals’ response to President Trump has only to become more of what they should not.

Ironically, when Trump was running for the Republican nomination two years ago, his success resulted from his distance from the mainstream politicians competing with him. Now in office, his liberal opponents’ distance from the mainstream has the effect of making him look more so himself.

Liberals must remember that they are America’s decided ideological minority for a reason. To be successful, they must advance their agenda behind someone more accessible to America — as they did so well with the last administration.

It is easy to see that throughout his short political career Donald Trump has been his own worst enemy. It is becoming even easier to see that now in office, liberals have become his best friends.

For the Left, they must decide if they are going to help themselves, by restraining their own worst inveterate inclinations, or if they are going to continue doing their inadvertent best to help Trump.

 J.T. Young served under President George W. Bush as the director of communications in the Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs for tax and budget at the Treasury Department. 

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller