By Quin Hillyer at the Washington Examiner;

One of the most disheartening developments in civic life in recent years is the widespread failure (or refusal) of so many people to apply the same standards to their own side that they demand the other side follow.

A too-little observed distinction to be made on this subject is that sometimes it makes sense for rules of political standards to change, but that bedrock standards of ethics should not. In the former case, it can sometimes – rarely, but yes, sometimes – be reasonable to accept that once-valued understandings have been superseded and to act accordingly. Thus, once Democrats exercised the “nuclear option” for appellate judicial nominees (allowing no filibuster to permanently block their confirmations), and showed no honest commitment to reversing their position if they ever return to power, then it made sense for Republicans to use the rules change to their own benefit.

(In this instance, Republicans made the extra, legitimate case that the use of the nuclear option merely restored an earlier, unwritten understanding that precluded permanent filibusters against judicial nominees. In other words, they were using formal rules merely to restore what had once been readily accepted, uncontroversial practice.)

On the other hand, if a standard is based on bedrock ethical or moral principles (not just social mores, but crucial normative values and truths), then no temporary political goal should justify their violation. People may argue whether adultery should prohibit someone from holding public office, but absolutely nobody should argue that sexual abuse of a minor can be excused. If – repeat, if – a significantly older man initiates clearly sexual contact with, say, a 15-year-old, that man has forfeited all claims on public office and must look to God, not civil society, for potential forgiveness.

[The rest of this provocative column is at this link.]

 

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