By choosing to sit on their hands and moodily harrumph for President Trump’s entire State of the Union speech, Democrats cast themselves with the American people as obstructionists and forces of negativity, exactly the kinds of labels they have successfully foisted on Republicans and Trump in the past.
Trump’s speech was filled with calls for unity and appeals to patriotism. Democrats’ sullen rejection of his rhetorical outreach will play badly with Americans, I believe.
What’s more, the boycott of the address by Congressional Black Caucus members, the appearance of many lawmakers dressed in #MeToo black, the delivery of a multitude of SOTU responses, and the hostility toward the compromise on immigration Trump has offered will cast Democrats with average Americans as the identity politics party they are. This will hurt them with working-class voters they need in the swing states and swing districts that they must win in order to pick up seats in 2018 and defeat Trump in 2020.
Trump certainly did his part by superbly delivering a well-written speech. The excellent use of guests in the first lady’s box shows a well-organized White House able to put on a good show. But even worse for Democrats than Trump’s success was their own failure, which amounted to nothing less than showing the American people who they really are.
Trump should try to act normal for a few days and let the Democrats spout all their left-wing rhetoric and dig themselves a deeper hole. If patriotism still counts – and I believe it does, especially among a critical group of voters – then Trump scored a win last night that could alter the trajectory of U.S. politics in his favor.