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News Analysis: Washington's bitter partisan rivalry continues in Trump's first weeks

Editor: zhangrui 丨Xinhua

02-06-2017 06:51 BJT

By Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Not even a month into Donald Trump's presidency, Washington's bitter partisan rivalry continues, with Democrats going hard against the new commander-in-chief.

The Democrats have been stunned by Trump's victory last November when he beat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to clinch the White House, surprising the vast majority of pollsters and experts.

Expressing their disapproval of the New York billionaire and his policies, a number of Democrats joined demonstrations against Trump, or refused to attend Trump's inauguration two weeks ago. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is leading the charge against Trump' s recent visa ban on seven majority-Muslim countries where terrorism is rife, calling the ban anti-Muslim.

Some Republicans and pundits, however, have countered that the ban does not cover hundreds of millions of Muslims from countries worldwide.

Some experts said many Democrats are baffled that voters chose Trump, and are attacking him in any way they can in a bid to drum up support after suffering a massive defeat. Others note that Republicans, when Obama was elected eight years ago, blocked everything the former president did.

"Democrats have decided to oppose most of what Trump is proposing," Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

This means it will be difficult for Trump to pass anything that requires 60 votes in the Senate to break a Democratic filibuster, West said, referring to Congressional rules that could make things difficult for Trump.

"He can pass budget-related bills through a simple majority, but every other policy action is going to be difficult for him. I expect this to continue throughout Trump's presidency," he said.

Critics also said the new president has done little to reach out to the other side, making it likely that the rivalry will continue unabated.

"He has done little to reach out to opponents, so if anything their (Democrats' ) opposition is likely to become even more intense," West said.

Republican Strategist Ford O' Connell told Xinhua that Democrats are going to complain about Trump's actions no matter what he does, in a bid to increase support from voters.

Polls find that Americans are fed up with Washington's party rivalry. Others note that this is simply part of the U.S. system of governance, although at times it can hamper progress.

"Some degree of partisan rivalry is good for democracy. Vigorous competition promotes idea development and gives voters a sense of how the two parties differ on key issues. However, taken too far, extreme partisanship weakens the political system and makes it difficult to address important problems," West said.

Not being able to pass basic legislation raises cynicism among voters and makes them think nothing good comes out of Washington, West said.

One upcoming issue of contention, among others to come, is the wall on the U.S.-Mexican border that Trump ordered to build. He even demanded Mexico pay for the wall, despite the latter's strong opposition.

Critics, including the Mexican government and U.S. Democrats, have railed against the wall, saying it's expensive and unnecessary.

West said Democrats will attack the wall as bad policy and as far too expensive.

"They will argue that Republicans waste money on ill-advised policies while the Republican Party also cuts assistance programs for the middle class. They will say the wall is bad for foreign policy and will destroy relations with Mexico," he said.

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