Right Hooks

John Lewis Encounters the Trump Effect

Trump's success is due in large part to Obama's polarizing actions.

Thomas Gallatin · Jan. 16, 2017

Over the weekend, Donald Trump’s row with civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) has dominated the headlines, especially given the fact that Monday is the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.‘s birth. Friday, in an interview with NBC News, Lewis stated, “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.” That’s par for the Democrat course on delegitimizing Trump.

Predictably, Trump responded by tweeting that Lewis was “all talk” and “no action” and that he should “spend more time on fixing” the crime problem in “his district.” And, of course the mainstream media had a field day over Trump’s attack on a civil rights hero. Indeed, the optics of it looked bad, but there’s so much more to the story.

Politicians love to conflate admiration for past heroic accomplishments with the merits of a political position, as is currently the case with John Lewis, one of the furthest left of representatives in the House. The truth is Lewis’ inflammatory rhetoric on Trump is nothing new either. In 2000, Lewis called into question the legitimacy of George W. Bush’s presidency; in 2008, he compared John McCain’s campaign to that of George Wallace. But of course he’s gotten a pass because of his past. And on the merits, Trump is right — inner cities often are little more than Democrat-controlled urban poverty plantations. Whatever his brave deeds 50 years ago, Lewis should be ashamed of his subsequent legislative record that has created dependency.

What may be different now is how a Republican — Trump — is responding. In the past, Republicans tended to express disagreement, yet remained relatively congenial, not wanting to appear to disparage a hero. The desire to get along out of fear of losing political status was of greater concern. However, Barack Obama so polarized the political climate in this country that it opened the door for Trump to be successful. In the past, Trump’s politically incorrect rhetoric would have ended a political career. But for him, it has served only to further strengthen his position. In a way, Trump has out Democrat-ed the Democrats.

Trump, who can hardly be accused of taking the high road, aggressively hits back at his opponents with similar over-the-top accusations and rhetoric, effectively changing the terms of the debate. That’s what makes Trump such an unusual and yet effective political leader for Republicans — his ability to expresses the frustrations of the average American in the manner of a common man who doesn’t give two hoots about what the elites in Washington may think.

It’s clear that the old playbook Democrats have so effectively used to shame Republicans into caving to their demands just doesn’t work on Trump.

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