It began with the election night victory of Donald Trump on November 8, 2016.
The Republicans had beaten the Democrats and won back the White House after eight years of opposition control. Congress was now in GOP hands, too. And so, it didn’t really matter how that had been accomplished so long as the deed was done.
In the lead-up to that win, many on the Right set aside long-held principles and beliefs to hold their nose and support the party candidate, a political newcomer with questionable (nonexistent?) morals and behavior who stirred up the base. He was energizing people, so what was the problem?
Since then, many who claim the GOP label have had only one goal: owning the liberals.
After all, President Trump spent his entire campaign doing just that and won. He said what he wanted, no matter how rude or inappropriate, and received plenty of praise for it. His background of sexual impropriety and forcing himself upon women (“…when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything”) didn’t matter to the same individuals who consider Bill Clinton a pervert.
It would all be so amusing if it were not so utterly, grotesquely hypocritical. But by and large, that is what the Right has become.
This attitude crops up at every turn and with every decision. Whether something is right or wrong isn’t the question. So long as we bring the Left some unbearable pain, it’s a good thing! How foolish of the side claiming to possess the only moral compass in the game. Again, I’m reminded why I am politically homeless and happily ex-GOP.
The most recent example is that of James Gunn, director of the Guardians of the Galaxy films who was fired by Disney for horribly disgusting tweets from years ago. As usual, there were plenty of hot takes flying around out there, but my colleague, Brandon Morse, hit the nail on the head in his piece Yes, James Gunn’s Tweets Were Disgusting. No, He Should Not Have Been Fired By Disney. We are absolutely obsessed with scalp-hunting and make that the primary goal of our political discourse. And that is dumb, Trump Era conservatism.
Over and over, I see people on the Right claim their frustration at the Left’s inability to hold their own to some sort of standard as the reason we shouldn’t do the same in return. They say this is the reason we should cheer at someone like James Gunn being fired because they cheered when Roseanne (who shouldn’t be a role model for conservatives at all) was fired for her online behavior.
This is just more proof of their inability to think critically. They want to one-up the opposition in as dirty and dishonest a manner as possible. Though they believe this to be besting their opponent, it really brings them down to their adversary’s level. Why anyone would want to stoop low is beyond me.
Instead, we should apply the same standards across the board. We should be consistent in calling out presidents whose past behavior is abominable. We should defend the rights of others, including their right to offend. We should not call for a witch hunt when there is no proof an actual crime has been committed. (See: James Gunn)
Over at Reason, Robby Soave said it best, emphasis mine.
“…we live in an era where both the left and the right are eager to collect the scalps of people who offend them. Conservatives who participated in the lynch mob against Gunn are hypocrites, since they have often scolded the left for doing this exact same thing.
On Twitter, I see the right-wing personalities insisting that they are merely forcing the left to abide by its own standards: if Roseanne had to lose her job, then Gunn should, too. This is exactly the kind of escalation I warned about when I criticized the knee-jerk cancellation of Roseanne. What a dull and unforgiving world the P.C. outrage mobs are creating for us.”
Perhaps if the Right weren’t so strung out on the Trump drug where the reason for every breath is making the Left mad, no matter the truth or consequence, then things might change. But I doubt we’re headed for any improvement in the near future.
If your opponent doesn’t play by the rules, you don’t forsake the rules just so you can beat him on his terms. You stick to standards and apply them all around. If you still lose, then at least it will have been principled. If you’re not the victor, then at least you didn’t roll around in cow dung to do so.
I know that is a difficult concept to follow in the Trump Era and an unthinkable one to abide by if winning is all that matters to you, but, dear, deluded sycophants, it’s a must.