Last week, Bill Maher issued a mea culpa of sorts, admitting that liberals had “cried wolf” in previous elections when they issued dire warnings about Republican candidates. “I gave Obama a million dollars because I was so afraid of Mitt Romney,” he said. “Mitt Romney wouldn’t have changed my life that much, or yours. Or John McCain.”
But this time is different, Maher insisted, because Trump is a fascist who’ll never give up power and we’ll have “President Trump for life.” Bush and McCain and Romney were “honorable men who we disagreed with and we should have kept it that way. So we cried wolf and that was wrong. But this is real. This is going to be way different.”
The problem is, Maher still isn’t being honest. He doesn’t really think Trump is different, because liberals in general think almost every mainstream Republican position is extreme and dangerous. The New York Times‘ editorial board, in an op-ed warning of a “coup against the Supreme Court,” painted what liberals across the country no doubt think is a very dark picture of the Supreme Court with a GOP-appointed majority under a Trump administration:
This majority, they hope, would promote a worldview where fewer people have rights, where women do not have reproductive choices, where lawmakers can make it harder for minorities to vote, where religious people are free to disregard laws protecting people they don’t like. Such a court could use a severe interpretation of the Constitution to ensure that American politics can be flooded with unlimited money, that reasonable gun restrictions are struck down, that corporate interests prevail over those of consumers, and that basic environmental regulations are turned back.
That’s a list, by the way, of moderate GOP policy positions. But for liberals, even the supposedly mainstream liberals at the Times, reasonable regulations on abortion, voter ID laws, statutory protections on religious freedom, and, you know, preserving the First and Second Amendments are horrors almost too terrible to contemplate.
It’s hard to take liberals like Maher seriously when they say Trump is extreme because to them every Republican is extreme for espousing views that have been part of the GOP platform for a long time. Before he dropped out of the primaries, Marco Rubio was considered a dangerous candidate by the Left because he tried to pass himself off as “moderate.” Salon warned its readers, “This man is a wingnut: Why Marco Rubio is as extreme as the rest of the lot.” Jonathan Chait cautioned that, “being less crazy than Donald Trump does not make Marco Rubio ‘moderate.’”
Whether or not Trump wins the election, in the years to come we can probably look forward to admissions from the likes of Chait and Maher and maybe even the editors at the Times, assuring us that, really, they didn’t mean it about Rubio and the others. They weren’t really extreme.
But the truth is, if you support the core Republican agenda and believe in things like limited government, protections on free speech, and the right to own firearms, liberals think you’re extreme. When they protest that Trump is different, don’t believe it. There are valid reasons Trump might be considered extreme in some respects, but that’s not what liberals mean. They really just mean he’s running on the Republican ticket.