Mitt Romney, many prominent Republican politicians, even both former presidents Bush (though not in as direct language), condemned Donald Trump's words and insensitivity. His failure to immediately condemn and distance himself from his white supremacist and neo-Nazi supporters seemed at best like a cynical calculation and at worst like an implicit endorsement of their views. Trump's tweets and statements were routinely laughably stupid or frightening and vulgar. All of the brightest, funniest, most intelligent, and respected voices in the media were united in condemning, ridiculing, and refuting Trump. It was September, 2016. Maybe some of you are old enough to remember.
To-day, what's different? Well, there's no looming presidential election. No chance to hit a day of revelation where we found out how impotent or possibly disingenuous those voices were.
Sites like 538.com gave the odds of Trump winning the election as slim to none. Hillary Clinton lacked charisma but she was obviously far more qualified for the job than Trump and her worst scandal, e-mails stored on a private server, paled in comparison to the mountains of scandal that had accumulated around Trump for decades, running the gamut from sexual assault to misappropriated charitable donations. Surely, anyone voting for him, even if they didn't approve of most or all of what Trump said, demonstrated they considered these things acceptable. Because Trump promised nothing that could possibly make up for that.
When you look at Breitbart.com, a leading voice of the alt-right, you don't see articles that explicitly endorse white supremacy. The general lack of articles analysing or condemning demonstrations of white supremacy ought to be a disturbing enough indicator. Instead, though, you see headlines like, "NEVER SATISFIED: PRESS DEMANDS MORE, BETTER CONDEMNATION OF CHARLOTTESVILLE". "DALLAS MAN PUSHES TO RE-BRAND FREEWAYS NAMED FOR DEMOCRAT KLANSMAN".
Who are these articles targeting? They're not stridently championing white supremacy. They don't seem to be advocating a philosophy of their own so much as punching holes in the left's rhetoric. Considering the left is busy condemning Nazis, making the left seem wrong or foolish ought to be a hard thing to do.
At the other end of the spectrum, to-day on Huffington Post there's an inconspicuous article about how Senator Al Franken is returning to appear on Bill Maher's HBO show. It was only a few months ago that social media was united in condemning Bill Maher for referring to himself as a "house nigger" in reply to a bizarre comment from a Republican politician suggesting Maher should work in the fields. I didn't think Maher ought to have used the word, but I was surprised when I saw how strident and universal the condemnation of Maher was on social media. Huffington Post ran an article called "Bill Maher is a Dangerous White Man".
Maher, who seemed starstruck when he interviewed President Obama last year--Obama claiming at the time that he watched every episode of Maher's show. Maher, who not only routinely mocks Trump but whose show, long ago, brought to public attention the political savvy of the likes of Al Franken and Arianna Huffington, who once co-hosted a regular segment on Maher's show. When we have neo-Nazis marching in the streets, is this really the time to be calling Bill Maher a "dangerous white man"?
And that's exactly the left's problem.
Maybe you're saying I'm splitting hairs. Maybe you're saying I'm a curmudgeon who's still sore because Peter Davison was branded a sexist because he thought there might be some drawbacks to a female Doctor Who even as he enthusiastically supported Jodie Whittaker. But maybe you wouldn't be saying that if we had an election yesterday.
The idea in leftwing media seems to be if people don't take seriously a small problem of rhetoric or an imperfect understanding of civil rights then a bazooka needs to be applied. And that's what makes it all the easier for Trump to say to the millions of disenfranchised, "Look, they're trying to manipulate you and they're insulting you."
Trump is wrong when he says the left is just as bad as the right. Because the right's problem is institutionalised greed and bigotry while the problem with the left is that it's playing into Trump's hands.