Editor’s note: This column published in the Sun-News print edition in July 2022, but due to an oversight was not published online until August 2022.
For the last eight years, I’ve been speaking a language almost nobody understands. Truthfully, I don’t watch the movie “Idiocracy” anymore because it’s becoming too uncomfortably prophetic. I used to feel like I had political allies who spoke the same language, but it’s become clear they use the same words, but with different meanings.
The language I’m speaking of is that of conservative and constitutional principles. I’d already had years of experience understanding that there was a language disconnect when I’d talk to those on the left, but then I started to see it with those on the right, especially with the rise of Donald Trump. Principles have become malleable. Positions on taxes, tariffs, foreign policy or even how people should treat each other are based on the position of the party and the president: Support your side no matter what and condemn the other side no matter what.
To be clear, the left engages in this behavior just as much as the right. There are no innocents here. The hard truth is this: If you claim to hold certain principles, but are willing to shift them to be accepted by your “tribe” or to stand in opposition to the other “tribe,” then you don’t actually hold those principles after all and you definitely can’t be counted on should those principles carry a cost. “Principles” dissolve into hypocrisy. Here’s one example:
Since the recent Roe v Wade SCOTUS decision, mobs have been protesting outside Supreme Court justices’ homes. Republicans have been, rightly, condemning this. The problem is that these same Republicans also have either refused to take a strong stance on the riot on Jan. 6 or have tried to deflect, deny or justify the actions of that day. Likewise, Democrats have an easier time condemning the latter while embracing and justifying the former. No one is standing on principles.
We can argue that one situation is worse than the other, but that’s not terribly relevant in terms of right and wrong. Murder is worse than manslaughter, but that’s no defense of manslaughter. In both of these protests, the goal has been clearly to intimidate public officials into violating their oaths and giving the mob what they want. Both should be condemned, no matter what your politics, but that’s not the language spoken in today’s America.
Last year, liberals labeled protests of school boards as actual acts of terrorism while now supporting the illegal (and they are illegal) protests designed to intimidate and punish Supreme Court justices. At the same time, Ted Cruz has said, “Today’s Democrat Party believes in violence, they believe in mob rule, they believe in intimidation,” while also saying, “On January 6 of 2021, you had tens of thousands of people peacefully protesting, and yet the corporate media and Democrats slander them with the made-up term ‘insurrectionist.’”
There’s hypocrisy and then there’s accusing others of hypocrisy … hypocritically. Both sides see it clearly in each other, but not in themselves.
Peruvian dictator Oscar R. Benavides once said, “For my friends everything, for my enemies the law.” That’s a good definition of both Trumpism and progressivism today … a poison that we desperately need to distance ourselves from.
I’ve been lucky to find a few others who value principle over party. Funnily, many lean left while a few lean right. Through them, I’ve discovered an antidote to this poison threatening us: communication and healthy debate where no one is afraid of the truth and no one is considered an enemy to be destroyed. I hope those ideals — instead of our present state of politics — can be our future.
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