Tracking Opposition to Trump: Senate Edition

Democrats, for the last eight years, saw up close and personal what obstruction looks like. They watched a legitimately elected president, the first to win more than 51% of the vote twice since Dwight Eisenhower, run into blanket opposition from his political opponents. They saw a scorched earth policy birthed during the worse economic crisis most of them have seen in their lifetimes, a Senate Leader put forth an agenda not of economic growth but of political victory, a Member of Congress shouting during the State of the Union address, and a political party proudly take up the mantle of “hell, no.”

And they saw it work.

Which is why it’s so puzzling that so many Democrats don’t seem to be willing to use the same playbook that was so effective in defeating them, especially in light of the fact that the party is coming off an election in which its presidential candidate received 3 million more voted, and they picked up seats in both Houses of Congress. Then, one of the largest political protests we’ve seen should have reinforced a pretty simple concept: they are there to stand up to Donald Trump. Every day, every bill, every vote.

Markos Moulitsas at DailyKos – whom I  have not seen eye to eye with on every occasion, correctly railed against this attitude in a recent post, saying

Resistance means resisting. All those people in the streets last Saturday didn’t march for Democrats to make nice with the GOP. They marched to resist—whether it’s Trump, or his acolytes like Carson. And if even progressive champions like Warren can’t figure that out, we really are in trouble.

To make this easy to keep track of, and to assist with our collective education by knowing who is fighting with us and who may need an extra nudge, I’ve created a Senate tracking spreadsheet that I will keep updated throughout the Congressional calendar. I got the idea from Twitter, where progressive voices like Oliver Willis have been expressing constant dismay that Democrats weren’t standing firmer against Trump and his nominees. So, I decided to see for myself, and frankly, things are worse than I thought.

There have been five non-procedural votes taken so far during this Senate session. Thirteen of the 48 Democratic Senators (two independents, Angus King and Bernie Sanders, caucus with Democrats, so I’ve included them) have voted with Trump on every one so far.

Before I out them, I want to state for the record that I fully understand that not every Senate seat and not every Senator is going to be a general in the War on Trump. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota won’t (and shouldn’t be expected to) vote the same way as Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. On some issues some latitude should be given so as not to make the perfect the enemy of the good. So, I’ve coded each Senator’s state with the result of the most recent presidential election.

That being said, the only red-state Democrats who scored 0/5 so far are Joe Donnelly (IN), and Heitkamp. The other 11 Senators who have voted for Trump’s appointees across the board so far all come from blue states. Here they are:

  • Dianne Feinstein (CA)
  • Brian Schatz (HI)
  • Angus King (ME)
  • Amy Klobuchar (MN)
  • Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
  • Chuck Schumer (NY) – the Democratic “leader” in the Senate
  • John Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)

When Jon Tester of Montana can vote to oppose Trump twice, but Senators from states Hillary Clinton carried overwhelmingly cannot, we need to ask why.

On the other side of the coin, there are a number of Democrats that are distinguishing themselves. Gillibrand and Tom Udall (NM) have voted nay on four of the votes I’ve tracked so far. A number of blue-state Democrats have done so three times. But the sort of across-the-board resistance that we should be demanding simply hasn’t materialized.

I’ll be updating this as time goes on, and it will have a permanent page on the site. If I’ve embedded it properly, you should even be able to sort it, and moving forward, I’ll make sure that I provide an explanation for why I’m grading every vote I add to the spreadsheet. I’ll even see about doing a House version if I have the time.

Knowledge is power, and the first thing we need to do with that power is speak very clearly to the people who represent us. Hopefully this will help.

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