Over the weekend, Congresswoman Maxine Waters encouraged mainstream Americans to continue disrupting the dinners and social outings of Donald Trump’s advisers. This sparked a lot of debate about how democracy is supposed to work – and naturally, Trump ended up flat out lying about what Waters had said. Here’s the thing: Maxine Waters is absolutely right. I also completely understand what Chuck Schumer is trying to do here by playing the other side.
Waters is referring to a number of incidents that have taken place over the past week. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant by the owner. Kirstjen Nielsen was confronted by protesters in a restaurant who chanted at her. Stephen Miller was confronted by a protester who called him a fascist. All of these incidents were entirely peaceful and legal. No one was trying to invade the Trump advisers’ personal space. No one was trying to make them feel unsafe. The protesters were simply trying to make Trump’s henchmen feel emotionally uncomfortable, which is what peaceful protest is all about. Waters is encouraging Americans to continue this kind of behavior.
So why is Chuck Schumer stepping in and gently pushing back against what Maxine Waters said? In short, because he has to. Waters is a firebrand who only speaks for herself. Schumer speaks for the party. It cannot be the official Democratic Party position that protesters should hound Trump’s advisers at restaurants. That would be the quickest way to energize Trump’s flagging base, and motivate them to turn out and vote Republican in November.
What you’re seeing here is good cop, bad cop. Maxine Waters is using her position as Congresswoman to fan the flames of the moral outrage mainstream Americans are feeling. Party leaders like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are giving the party cover, so Trump can’t sell anyone on the idea that his advisers are officially under siege by the Democratic Party. This may not be what some folks in the Resistance want to hear, but it is how politics works. The Democrats absolutely must win the majority in November so they can oust Trump, and in the meantime, they must employ the political strategy that leads them to victory – and not simply the strategy that allows them to feel righteously indignant.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report