One thing that I have to respect about liberals: they can be very flexible. I mean, while conservatives often get tied up in strict adherence to consistent principles, liberals can shift positions easily when this proves advantageous.
We’ve seen a number of examples of this with Mr Trump’s election. For example:
- Before the election, when Mr Trump was asked whether he would accept the results of the election and he gave a non-committal answer, liberals said that this was totally unacceptable. This was a threat to our democracy. For a candidate to refuse to graciously concede undermines civil politics. Then when Trump won an upset victory, liberals smoothly shifted to supporting all sorts of challenges to election results. They called for recounts, they called for electors to change their votes, etc.
- When Bill Clinton was accused of inappropriate behavior with women, including allegations of sexual assault, liberals said that whether these accusations were true or not was irrelevant. His private life had nothing to do with his public life. Even adulterous acts conducted during his presidency, in the Oval Office, were not relevant. But when it was revealed that Mr Trump made a vulgar comment twenty years ago, liberals pivoted to say that a candidate’s personal sexual conduct was highly relevant to his qualifications to be president.
- Speaking of his attitude toward women, before the election liberals said that Trump did not show sufficient respect for women. He denigrated and demeaned women, which made him unacceptable as a presidential candidate. After the election, when he said that his daughter Ivanka would have an office in the White House and be advising him on policy issues, liberals said that it was outrageous and unacceptable that he would give so much influence to his daughter. They neatly flipped from “not enough respect for the women in his life” to “too much respect for the women in his life”.
- During the election, the New York Times obtained illegal copies of Trump’s tax returns. Although it is a federal crime to read someone’s tax returns without their permission, the New York Times read them and published articles discussing what they found. Liberals praised this as investigative journalism, and said that the public’s right to know superseded Trump’s privacy rights — regardless of technicalities like “federal law”. But when Wikileaks obtained copies of Democrat’s emails and published them, liberals smoothly shifted to saying that it was unacceptable for someone to publish such private communications.
- When Hillary Clinton was discovered to have sent and received official government emails using an unauthorized personal server — presumably so that she could evade freedom of information laws — liberals said this was no big deal and it was pure speculation to suppose that foreign powers might have hacked her server and learned classified information. But when it was alleged that the Russians may have hacked the Democratic National Committee’s email server, suddenly the idea of foreigners gaining access to American politician’s email became a serious issue calling for an official investigation.
- Before the elections conservatives called for voter ID laws to combat vote fraud. Liberals replied that this was overkill, that there have been only a handful of cases of vote fraud in the last few decades, none have been significant, and there is no reason to take any steps to protect against it. When Trump won the election, suddenly liberals became extremely concerned about the possibility of vote fraud and called for an investigation and a hand recount. (They were especially concerned about the possibility of foreigners hacking into voting machines in Michigan and Wisconsin over the Internet, which would have been quite a coup to pull off as neither of those states have voting machines connected to the Internet.)
- Mr Obama boasted that he was creating a better relationship with Russia. The White House issued a press release about the benefits of the “reset”, and liberals praised Obama for having the courage to reach out to an old enemy and try to turn them into a friend. Then after the election liberals said that Russia had helped Mr Trump and that this would make him “Putin’s puppet”. Suddenly the idea of being friendly with Russia was something to be ashamed of, indeed according to liberals it was now a threat to America’s very survival as an independent country.
- Liberals praised Mr Obama for reaching out to Iran, despite the fact that a long-time ally, Israel, strongly objected to these overtures. Liberals assured us that the U.S. could balance support for friends with opening a dialog with enemies. When Mr Trump accepted a phone call from the president of Taiwan, liberals suddenly shifted to saying that this was unacceptable because this would upset communist China. The U.S. does not dare talk to friends if this offends enemies.
- There have been a number of news stories in recent years that appeared to support the liberal world view that turned out to be mistakes or hoaxes. The false report of Trump supporters tearing off a Muslim woman’s hijab, “hands up don’t show” in Ferguson, the Rolling Stone fraternity rape story, the misleading editing of George Zimmerman’s 911 call, the Duke lacrosse team, Dan Rather’s forged memos about George Bush’s military service, etc. In every case, the liberal response has been to say that, yes, the facts in this particular case are questionable — they rarely actually admit they were false — but the important thing is the larger truth that incidents like this surely have happened. Even if this story is false, something like this could have happened, etc. But after the election, suddenly liberals were very concerned about the strict factual accuracy of news stories, and began a campaign to “filter” (i.e. censor) “fake news”.
I’ve limited this discussion to examples of liberal flexibility related to the recent election. A discussion of such liberal flexibility in general would require a book.