Reader, welcome to the #Resistance — whatever the hell that means.
If you’ve been unlucky enough to go online in the past year, the phrase “welcome to the resistance” may ring a bell: Its contemporary usage first began moments after the New York Times predicted Donald Trump would clinch the presidency on Nov. 8, 2016. It’s become a digital rallying cry for opponents of the Trump White House ever since.
Of course, in time, the #Resist sentiment was also appropriated by online personalities on the left, who have used the term to mock the sort of liberals they believe landed us in this mess in the first place. Their frequent targets are Democrats who, during the election, seemed more interested in attracting support from conservatives rather than their traditional base.
The meme comes in handy to mock incidents like Nancy Pelosi recently joking to a crowd, “Wouldn’t it be nice if Mitt Romney were president of the United States?”; the liberal adulation for Sen. John McCain following a late-night vote that blocked a repeal of Obamacare last July, despite his numerous previous votes to do just that; the efforts by the Clinton campaign to court support from “Republican elders” like Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice; and Clinton ads that featured other conservatives like Michael Hayden, Max Boot and Charles Krauthammer — just to name a few examples.
It all contributes to a growing perception that the so-called liberal “resistance” is mostly unserious anti-Trump social media branding.
“From a left perspective, [#Resistance] is a joke about the hollowness of liberal politics,” Twitter personality @pixelatedboat, who’s well-known for riffs on that very subject, said in a direct message. “What actually offends liberals about Trump is his lack of respect for civility norms, so they’ll happily side with people who are just as bad or worse than Trump, but more polite about it.”
Other voices on the left panned the tendency to heap praise on Republicans critical of Trump — such as Sen. Jeff Flake, who, as of Tuesday, has still supported the president’s positions 89.8% of the time.
“Trump is obviously catastrophically awful, so criticizing him isn’t any kind of achievement,” @pixelatedboat said. “It’s a very low bar to clear. So, the idea that someone else criticizing Trump puts them on your side — even if the person criticizing him is a monster like George W. Bush — is pretty ridiculous.”
That’s where the meme comes in — mocking a phrase so nebulous it lets anyone be a hero.
“Trump is obviously catastrophically awful, so criticizing him isn’t any kind of achievement. It’s a very low bar to clear.” — @pixelatedboat
“The ‘Resistance’ is an ever-morphing, semi-sentient mass,” the anonymous left-wing comedy writer @KrangTNelson said in a DM. “There are no rules — anything can be the resistance. Henry Kissinger? Absolutely. George W. Bush? You betcha. Your mom’s friend Rhonda? Oh, she’s definitely in. This horse over here? Why the hell not?! No rules, baby.”
“[The phrase] just immediately brings to mind a mental image of Keith Olbermann slowly removing a pair of eyeglasses, and then removing a second pair that was underneath them,” joked writer Oliver Leach, who goes by @BAKKOOONN on Twitter.
“There are no rules — anything can be the resistance. Henry Kissinger? Absolutely. George W. Bush? You betcha.” — @KrangTNelson
Leach was particularly dismissive of the #Resistance’s professional class, including the former Clinton staffers many feel are to blame for losing the election to Trump.
“Losing elections for a living is a lot of fun,” Leach said. “Based on what I have seen, the hashtagged #Resistance is mostly resisting finding a new job.
“It is performative status quo,” he added.
As long as the world is burning to the ground, we may as well have some fun with it.