Principles, not personalities

Before 2009, Democrats frequently criticized Bush’s wars and presidential overreach. When Obama was inaugurated, most of them slammed on the brakes, fell silent, and even defended Obama’s continuation of Bush’s policies. For them, the real issue wasn’t the principles involved, but who was in charge. Who’s in charge is about to change again, and Trump will have all the expanded power of his predecessors to work his will. Democrats are noticing the problem now, but they’ve got eight years of catching up to do.

A liberal approach to government and politics has to be based on principles. If concentrating a huge amount of power in one person is bad, it’s bad regardless of who currently holds the office. If being in undeclared wars in multiple countries is a harmful policy, it’s harmful whether Bush, Obama, or Trump is pursuing them. Liberalism, the view that government should be limited and people free, doesn’t change its principles after each election.

If people we like pursue a bad course, it’s still necessary to criticize them. Equally important, if injustice strikes at people we dislike, we have to defend them. Trump will try to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Clinton. Whether you think she should be prosecuted or not, it’s an outrage for a president to personally direct an investigation against an opponent he just beat, and a step toward the end of free elections. The University of Louisville, a government institution, has suspended cheerleaders for expressing views that aren’t “an accurate representation” of the official position. Whether you like their views or not, the university has no right to punish people for expressing opinions.

To paraphrase Jesus, if you defend the right of people to say and do things you agree with, what’s the value of that? Even the KKK does the same. Principles have to apply to everybody, or they aren’t principles.

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