There are many reasons why Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election but some could say that his rise to power began on September 12, 2009, when hundreds of thousands of Americans peacefully marched on Washington, D.C. and gathered at the nation’s capitol to show their disappointment in President Barack Obama’s desire to implement Obamacare.
I emphasize peacefully because it was a genial crowd facing the very real possibility of the government taking away their control of their health insurance and, indeed, three months after the march that fear became reality. Congress, in a late-night session, basically jammed the bill down the throats of Americans who, while researching the contents of the legislation, were told by then-House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi that it had to be passed before they could find out what was in it.
But that wasn’t the only legislation Obama had hastily embarked upon immediately after entering office. As Bearing Drift colleague Jay McConville wrote:
Soon after his inauguration President Obama went right at the heart of his opponents, supported by majorities in the House and Senate, and pursued high visibility legislation such as the massive expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, an extended Automobile Industry Bailout, and the Public Land Management Act of 2009, which added 2 million acres of land to the National Wilderness Preservation System.
He also suspended detentions at Guantanamo Bay, promising to close it in one year, lifted restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research (a hot-button issue of the Bush years) and abandoned the Mexico City Policy, which banned federal grants to international groups that provided abortions. His administration went on a regulatory tear, later described by Obama himself as an “audacious regulatory agenda.”
He lectured Americans on a host of contentious social issues, and presented himself, and the left, as the morale arbiters of our society. Boldest of all was the nearly $800 billion economic stimulus (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) in which he promised “shovel ready jobs” and which contained more pork than American’s had ever imagined (remember “Cash for Clunkers?”). The passage of that bill, and others tied to it, led directly to the creation of the Tea Party movement and the engagement of millions of Americans, once uninterested, in the political process so as to “save America” from this leftist tsunami.
Yeah. Trump’s road to the presidency began then. We didn’t know it, of course. In fact, when Obama surprisingly won a second term in 2012, it seemed the sleeping giant was permanently snoozing.
Last week the giant awakened with a roar.
However, riots and vandalism are not the answer, and in America we don’t have do-overs for the presidential election. In 2008 and 2012 conservative friends were fearful of Obama. Now the left is fearful of Trump. It happens every election cycle. The temptation to respond to someone ruling with an iron fist, which was how Obama went into office, is to strike back with an iron fist. Much of the radical agenda from the past eight years may now be in danger of being rolled back.
Which takes me back to that March on D.C. in 2009 with the sea of fiscal conservatives that converged on Washington. Standing at the capitol, there were people as far as the eye could see. It was an exercise in First Amendment rights, a protest. It was not a riot. No statues were spray-painted with hateful remarks. No property was destroyed. There wasn’t even any trash afterward as ralliers picked up behind themselves and left behind overflowing trash barrels but no trash on the nation’s mall or around the capitol or on Constitution Avenue.
Sadly, Trump, the savior that those disenfranchised Americans decided to support, is not a statesman but has proven to be a very divisive figure; indeed, he wasn’t even a Republican when the 9/12 march took place. The “election autopsy” that the GOP did on itself after their loss in 2012 was basically tossed out the door when Trump rode into town.
Nonetheless, Trump is now the president-elect and deserves the opportunity to show what he can do to govern a divided nation. Will he be mindful of the side that didn’t support him as George W. Bush was after the extended election of 2000, or will he pursue a one-sided agenda like Obama in 2009?
America will soon find out.
Here are more photos from the 9/12/09 march.
Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
September 12, 2009
Cross-posted at Bearing Drift