I’m old enough to remember when it didn’t take anything more than Donald Trump saying he’d like to make America great again to see ten thousand people out in the streets of any major city screaming about how the Bad Orange Man was bad. And orange. But these days, if you’ve been getting the impression that the protests seem to be losing some steam it’s probably not just your imagination. The Associated Press has been digging into some of the numbers and finds that people don’t appear to be turning out in the same massive numbers every time MoveOn sends out an action alert email.
Days after President Donald Trump killed an Iranian general and said he was sending more soldiers to the Middle East, about 100 protesters stood on a pedestrian bridge over Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive with an illuminated sign that read “No War in Iran.”
Some 200 people marched in the bitter cold near Boston, while a few dozen people demonstrated on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall and at similarly sized gatherings across the U.S.
Three years after Trump took office and millions of people swarmed to the Women’s March in Washington and companion marches across the country, these typically modest protests are often the most visible sign of today’s Trump resistance.
Is this a symptom of something larger going on across the nation? When you can’t even get forty people to show up for a protest on the steps of City Hall in Los Angeles, (a thing that actually happened) something is afoot. Los Angeles isn’t just the second-most populous city in the country. It’s also ground zero for seething hatred of the President and chock full of celebrities with little better to occupy their time than show up for an anti-Trump protest.
It’s basically impossible to generate any specific data that would account for this apparent lack of enthusiasm for massive protests. Liberal organizers who spoke to the Associated Press were quick to assure reporters that this shouldn’t be seen as any sort of waning of their dedication to the proposition of removing Trump from office. They say that activists are simply “too busy” doing other things like “knocking on doors for candidates, mailing postcards to voters, advocating for specific causes or running for office.”
But is that really what’s going on? I would suggest that it’s just a combination of burnout and the gradual realization that the opposition is stuck with Trump until at least next January. The left is also very likely coming to the conclusion that the President is never going to change his behavior to suit their desires and his supporters are not abandoning him, no matter how often they take to the streets.
Let’s remember where all of this started. The “women’s march” showed up in Washington with more than 200,000 people before the inaugural festivities had drawn to a close. They were protesting before the President had a chance to perform one official duty of his office aside from taking the oath. This was never about objecting to any of the President’s actions or policies. It was simply a bitter refusal to accept the results of the election.
But you can only keep up that sort of anger for so long before you start to burn out. And we’ve seen one poll after another showing that Democrats are avoiding getting their hopes up too much because they’re aware that Trump may still win a second term. And that should leave us with the key exit question spurred by these dismal protest attendance numbers. If the Democrats can’t get their people out in the streets to decry Donald Trump, how do they expect to get them out to the polls in November?