Bob Ehrlich: How Trump's Surprising Election Triggered the Left's Spectacular Self-Destruction


One of the goofier inventions of the campus speech code police is the so-called “trigger warning.” Your college kid can fill you in on how such warnings are often included on campus syllabi, ostensibly to help sensitive undergraduates better acclimate to troubling — disquieting — disturbing course material.

Once warned, they are then presumably better prepared to deal with troubling events, and not so easily “triggered” into negative moods or behavior. To boot, some schools allow their students to recuse themselves from classes covering material students adjudicate as upsetting!

For example, Irish youngsters might be forewarned about the Great Potato Famine, African-American kids about slavery and Jim Crow, Russian kids about Stalin and the gulags, Jewish kids about Hitler and the death camps.

A reasonable person may at this point ask how every previous generation of students was able to digest (and learn from) horrific chapters in human history without reliance on trigger warnings.

A related query may inquire as to how the “Greatest Generation” defeated the Axis powers (and saved the world) without the aid of such a construct.

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It is fun and rather easy to poke fun at such pseudo-instruction. After all, most students will graduate into the real world where they will soon forget such “lessons.”

Still, I must admit to one instance where a trigger warning could have proved useful; where its issuance could have saved many from consternation and derangement — even psychosis.

I refer, of course, to the celebration scheduled for the evening of Nov. 8, 2016. No trigger warning had been issued prior to that night because most of the country thought none would be required. Had not the national news media reported just a week earlier that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee were “expanding the map,” spending money in supposedly safe red House seats given the expected size and scope of Clinton’s landslide?

But the pundits got it wrong. The evening’s events brought the reality of President-Elect Donald J. Trump, who arrived with no forewarning.

For half of the country watching in stunned happiness, the new president was a breath of fresh air. They had voted for the disruptor, and the promised disruption began immediately. There would henceforth be no regular order in Washington, D.C. The new sheriff would operate outside establishment norms, often engaging foes and friends alike in a direct, hyper-aggressive way.

To this, the great unwashed said, “Hallelujah!” They had finally been given a leader willing to challenge the orthodoxies of both political parties.

The other half of the country was woefully unprepared for this sudden turn of events, but nevertheless began its “resistance” in short order. For them, the president-elect was coarse, abnormal and dangerous. They accordingly opposed him with all their might.

And it is here where the unplanned triggering continues to gain momentum. How else to describe a political opposition that has moved so quickly, so decisively, so resolutely left? Indeed, the shift is unprecedented in its scope and depth.

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A decade ago, New York Senate candidate Hillary Clinton opposed drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens. Four years later, the certifiably progressive Barack Obama assured the country (in a State of the Union speech) he wished to work with “[both parties] to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.”

Three months ago, New York senator and presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand proclaimed, “There is no such thing as an illegal human.” She followed up this astounding statement with a promise to provide Social Security benefits to illegal aliens. Neither statement generated public condemnation from her fellow Democratic competitors.


In 2008, Clinton repeated her previously-expressed view that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare, and by rare, I mean rare.” Today, almost all the Democrats running for the presidency seek to make abortion free and available up to the very moment of delivery.

Such a stance was once thought tantamount to political suicide but is now deemed “moderate” after a March 2019 interview by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam described a hypothetical wherein he appeared to support infanticide in cases where a baby is delivered deformed or likely not to survive birth.

To no one’s surprise, this same field of candidates is equally supportive of full taxpayer funding of the procedure. Even Joe Biden has gotten on board by rescinding his decades-long support for the funding compromise known as the Hyde Amendment (no federal funds for abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother).

Full disclosure: the triggering of such uber pro-choice positions may have as much to do with the recent promotion of Brett Kavanagh to the Supreme Court as it does with the president. Kavanagh is widely viewed as the likely fifth vote to overturn Roe V. Wade.


Again, the reader does not need to travel so far back in time to appreciate how far today’s progressives have evolved on the issue of government-financed health care. Recall President Obama’s first term decision to forego a push for single-payer health care when the Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress.

Conventional wisdom at the time dictated a piecemeal approach (precisely how we arrived at Obamacare) because too many suburban Democrats saw government-run health care as a sure political loser.

The president (correctly) concluded that he lacked the votes to proceed further down that dangerous path. Yet the post-Obama Democratic party is all in on “Medicare For All,” including numerous presidential hopefuls who have expressed their support for ending private health insurance in America.

Interestingly, former Vice President Biden has yet to opine on what “MFA” means to him, but recent moves by “Amtrak Joe” (he is now supportive of a plan to provide Medicare to illegal aliens who have not paid into the system) suggest he may end up closer to Bernie Sanders than those people he used to chat up on the train to Washington, D.C.


The ultimate result of all the Trump-inspired triggering is, of course, the well-publicized “Green New Deal.” Nothing speaks to the ongoing progressive stampede better than a program all about pie-in-the-sky goals, especially the targeted elimination of cows and air travel.

Less than enthusiastic reaction to the proposal by the 80 percent of the population that lives between the coasts has some presidential candidates backtracking a bit into “aspirational mode.”

But the fact that this proposal continues to be viewed in positive political terms speaks to a deep and ever-widening gulf between a motivated progressive political base and everybody else.

I could go on, but the evidence is clear. Trump’s surprising election triggered a progressive Democratic tide that has the base now rushing full-bore to the proverbial cliffs. There does not appear to be anyone in a position to stop him. Trigger warnings be damned.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Robert Ehrlich is a former governor of Maryland as well as a former U.S. congressman and state legislator. He is the author of “Bet You Didn’t See That One Coming: Obama, Trump, and the End of Washington’s Regular Order,” in addition to “Turn This Car Around,” “America: Hope for Change" and “Turning Point.” Ehrlich is currently a counsel at the firm of King & Spalding in Washington, D.C.