What a difference eight years makes.
When President Obama was elected in 2008, he campaigned on the idea that marriage was a relationship between a man and a woman.
His political party was obviously good with that.
When he leaves office tomorrow, most of that same political party believes that people who hold the position he held when he was elected President should lose their businesses for it.
As a result bakers, florists, print shops, pizza shops owners, photographers, graduate students and fire chiefs suffered the wrath of a mob that somewhere along the way decided that tolerance only meant tolerating beliefs you agreed with or understood.
In principle, Americans have long agreed that “tolerance” is a good thing.
But only recently did we decide that “tolerance” required you to support events, messages, and activities you personally opposed.
But then Donald Trump was elected President.
And that changed everything.
To be sure, it’s a dramatic shift in the nature of the leadership coming from Washington, D.C.
But for progressives, it also required a change in their core principles.
For years they told those who didn’t support their view of marriage and sexuality that abstention was a sign of invidious bigotry. But overnight, it became a moral necessity.
Broadway singer Jennifer Holliday (who had performed for four previous Presidents) agreed to sing the national anthem at the inauguration, but she withdrew after receiving an avalanche of ridicule up to and including death threats and calls for her suicide.
Not only were they willing to tolerate people who declined to participate in certain events, they demanded it.
Ms. Holliday had hoped her voice would help bring people together. But, as she described it, she didn’t realize that, “We’re not doing America right now.”
When Nicole Kidman tweeted that “…we as a country need to support whoever’s the president because that’s what the country is based on,” the mob demanded (and eventually received) an apology.
As if that statement is something requiring an apology.
The designer who declined to design a dress for Melania Trump was applauded instead of picketed.
When members of the Rockette’s objected to leg-kicking for the President-elect, the progressive mob showed no indignation at their obviously discriminatory preferences but defended their right of conscience.
The difference is obvious.
The mob agrees with their convictions and consequently has sympathy for their decision to abstain.
The hypocrisy, however, is equally obvious.
If you believe in freedom only for those who agree with you, you don’t really believe in freedom.
Progressives will attempt to make a distinction between the singers who opted not to sing at the inauguration and the florists who declined to decorate for a same-sex wedding. “Sexual orientation is a protected class,” they insist, “but whatever category you wish to put Donald Trump into is not.”
But that attempt to make a distinction simply ignores the fact that protected class status is a function of a political majority’s preferences.
What if “presidents who wanted to build a wall on the Mexican boarder” were designated as a protected class who could not be discriminated against?
Should that change the rights of singers to decline to be part of the inauguration?
Of course not.
But under their preferred framework, it would.
It has been commonplace throughout history that those in power would use their power to punish their political opponents until such a time as their political opponents figure out a way to wrestle power away from them and then they use that power to exact revenge.
America isn’t supposed to be that way.
Our Constitution and Bill of Rights were created out of recognition that all of us have rights that must be protected even if no one else agrees with us or even likes us.
And no one has the right to make someone else do something they don’t want to do.
Some of us forgot this over the past eight years, but now we have a chance to remember.
We have the opportunity to reestablish the idea that freedom is good even if the way it is used offends you.
The freedom to “discriminate” isn’t always a crisis because one man’s “discrimination” is another man’s right of conscience.
Sometimes we might be the majority. Sometimes we might not. But that shouldn’t have any bearing on whether people can be compelled to do things that violate their conscience.
Conservatives have been making this argument for years. Now that they’ve lost an election, progressives are coming around as well.
If Trump’s election helped bring us together again on this point, perhaps he is making America great again, already.