In many ways being in Opposition in the United States is harder than in many other Anglo-Saxon countries and especially those with some form of the Westminster system of government where the Opposition is officially recognized as the potential alternative Head of Government. The traditions and the regulations of Congress and the Senate do not give the same opportunities for the major opposition Party to present its case within the Houses and so the Democrat Party must be prepared to fight a disciplined multi level battle against the Trump Presidency and the Republican majorities within the two Houses.

Too easy a target

In the space of a few short weeks the #Democratic Party went from polls showing a possible electoral grand slam to a #Donald Trump White House and Republican majorities in Congress and the Senate. This has meant that the Party must build itself up first for the midterms and then for the run for the White House in 2020.

Without forgetting the nearly 3,000,000 popular votes win by Hillary Clinton, the protests against President Donald Trump’s orders, not only in relation to the Moslem ban but also the wall with Mexico and the pipelines show that the Democrats have the potential to look to the future with real possibilities in a number of States. Yet the very protests may well prove to be their weakness when it comes to fighting the man in the Oval Office.

It would be too easy to aim at each and every decision made by Donald Trump and to turn the next four years into a running battle that will be a major strain on all involved, including the public at large. The first three weeks of the new Administration have shown that Trump supporters and even members of the Republican Party are willing to overlook some of his eccentricities to achieve results in matters such as climate control, gun control, equal rights and other contested issues.

Rather the Democrats must pick and choose the battles that they will fight to achieve the maximum results from the struggles. Elizabeth Warren gave an example of this in the Senate when her blocked speech against the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Although she was unable to present her case, the publicity received and the public reaction to her actions give hope that a strategic battle on important issues will be more effective than a war on all fronts.

Possible allies?

Furthermore, the presence of Republicans such as Marco Rubio and particularly Senator John McCain who publicly declare their opposition to certain aspects of Trump’s political agenda also encourage the use of targeted and precise battles in which these erstwhile opponents may well come on board for certain issues.

Donald Trump has shown that he is not a traditional politician; in fact he prides himself on this and continues to behave as a businessman running his personal empire. Up till now this has endeared him to many and raised the hackles of just as many others, but over time this behaviour will crash into the walls of institutional and constitutional reality as we are now seeing in the courts.

These will then give the Democrats the weapons to fight the political battles and the targets that will be most effective.

The Democrats must act with patience and a level of shrewdness that they have failed to achieve in recent years. Only by waiting for the right opportunity will they be able to act most efficiently. At the moment the ball is in the Republicans’ court, but as in all sports, sooner or later the opponent will have the opportunity to plays his or her hand and this is when the real battle begins.