Glenn Reynolds tweeted about Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels today:
Life’s a bitch, isn’t it? Jonah Goldberg responds:
As for [Glenn’s] point that lots of conservatives are tired of having their principles used against them, this seems incontestable to me. This was a big psychological and political undercurrent among Trump enthusiasts in 2016….And, without spelling it out for liberals who might seem flummoxed by this widespread attitude on the right, I think it’s a legitimate gripe. I can even understand why many rank-and-file GOP voters would throw their hands up and say, “If liberals aren’t going to play by the rules, why should conservatives?”
But I think this is ultimately the wrong way to think about this. It’s a bit like the bureaucrat or cop who won’t take bribes feeling like he’s a fool since everyone else is on the take. He’s not a fool. If it’s wrong to take bribes, it’s still wrong if “everybody does it.”…If you’ve dedicated your professional or pastoral life to upholding and enforcing public standards of decency, there is no principled argument for giving Trump a pass.
Goldberg ultimately thinks this attitude is wrong, which is great. But he also thinks it’s “a legitimate gripe.” And that’s what I don’t get. I’m not flummoxed by the notion that lots of conservatives feel aggrieved about this, but I am flummoxed by the notion that it’s legitimate.
Help me out here. What conservative principles are constantly being used against conservatives? I can think of some. There are the Christians who are caught committing adultery. There are the gay bashers who turn out to be gay. There are the small-government types who suddenly love big government when it’s one of their pet projects on the line.
Now, it’s true that these particular things don’t much affect liberals. Adultery is sort of yucky, but not always a deal killer. Nobody on the left bashes gays in the first place, and we don’t care if someone is gay. And we aren’t committed to small government, so it’s no big deal when a liberal proposes some kind of big project.
But of course liberals have their own rules. Right now, in fact, we’re in the middle of a huge backlash against liberals who sexually harass and assault women. This is because liberals think those are bad things. Liberals will also get in trouble for saying something even arguably racist because we think racism is wrong. Dianne Feinstein (and others) get a lot of crap from the left over their support of surveillance laws because liberals like to think they favor privacy rights. None of these things would cause a conservative much trouble.
I could go on and on, but that would be boring. My point, obviously, is that both sides are vulnerable to attacks for violating their principles. However, this mostly comes from their own side. The other side will guffaw and make snarky jokes on Twitter, but that mostly has little influence over anyone outside their own circle. God knows the 2016 presidential election proved that.
I assume that the comment section will start out with lots of abuse hurled at Reynolds and Goldberg. That’s fine. Gotta get it out of your system, after all. But I’m also genuinely curious. Precisely which principles is it that are constantly being used against social conservatives? And why do conservatives think this only happens to them? Unflummox me, please.