Yesterday was Friday. It could also be called “Donald Trump’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” after the Washington Post released a video from 2005 in which Trump describes his attempted sexual conquest of a married woman in some, shall we say, vulgar terms.
Democrats have predictably jumped all over Trump, calling him an unfit moral reprobate. Republicans – at least Republican voters – have mostly defended him, saying that his crimes of “saying some mean things” aren’t as bad as what Hillary Clinton has done.
Despite whatever validity that point may have, the issue here is not entirely about things that Trump has said, because in the video he is talking about things that he has done. So, these aren’t just words. They’re words that describe deeds.
But even that isn’t what interests me the most in this story. What interests me most is the lengths to which both Democrat and Republican voters will go to defend “their” candidate.
For the better part of the last 25 years, dating back to (the first) President Clinton, conservatives have said that, when it comes to politicians, character matters. They were the people who argued that Ol’ Slick Willie was unfit for the presidency because of his multiple affairs and instances of alleged sexual assault.
That sentiment has continued to the present day, as conservatives have criticized people like serial sexter Anthony Weiner. Conservatives have almost gleefully talked of the sex scandals of Democrats, always standing firm in the “character matters” camp.
But Trump has changed that. Faced with their guy being the womanizer, conservatives have suddenly reversed course. Character, it seems, doesn’t matter. At least not as much as beating Democrats.
Speaking of Democrats, they’ve got some consistency problems too. Back in the 90s, they constantly defended Bill Clinton from his critics. He was, after all, just a good-natured playboy. It was, after all, just sex. It was no big deal. Morality was for prudes.
And that sentiment has also continued to the present day, as liberals have declared war on traditional standards of morality. Every medium that liberals control – music, movies, tv – contain the exact same kind of sentiment (and markedly similar phraseology) as what Donald Trump said on that video. Are we to believe that liberal Democrats are now the guardians of morality?
Not likely. Liberals’ claims to be horrified by Donald Trump’s sexual promiscuity are, given their track record, hard to take seriously.
What’s interesting to me, far more interesting than what Donald Trump has said, is how both sides rationalize their way out of the principles that they held just yesterday. After this election, nobody should ever doubt the effect that politics has on principles. Nothing exemplifies this more that the fact that character suddenly doesn’t matter to the right, but morality does to the left.
As a libertarian, I won’t vote for Donald Trump for the same reason I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton: they’ll grow the power of the state. That’s it.
But, as long as we’re discussing it, both of them are morally abominable.