By CHRISTIAN J. LEDFORD, Guest Writer
In 2015, Aaron and Melissa Klein, a couple behind the bakery “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” were fined $135,000 by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) for declining to bake and decorate a cake for a wedding between two women, Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer. The case started in 2013 when the Kleins refused to serve a same-sex couple, resulting in the women filing a complaint against the Kleins. Citing their Christian faith, the Kleins refused to bake the cake for the Bowman-Cryers on the basis that homosexual relationships are Biblically immoral, and thusly, to support a homosexual wedding with their business would go against their ethical standards; nevertheless, Brad Avakian, BOLI commissioner, labeled the Kleins’ decision as discriminatory and ordered them to pay $135,000 to the Bowman-Cryer couple for “emotional damages”.
However, the Kleins’ struggle wasn’t over. Due to the financial burden of paying over $100,000, the Kleins were forced to move business into their home; activists also took aim at the Kleins, with their business being the target of boycotts, protests, and even death threats against the couple and their children. In a 2016 Facebook post on behalf of the business, the couple announced that due to financial burden and stress, they would permanently close their business.
Their defeat and ensuing humiliation was celebrated by the Left, with the Huffington Post, a notorious leftist-progressive news organization, personally attacking the couple in headlines, labeling them “passive-aggressive”, “discriminatory”, and “anti-gay”. Even in their defeat, their opponents declined to show restraint, with individuals commenting things like “Hahaha. Karma 1 – Homophobes nil” [sic] and “Ha, you got what you deserve” on the posting announcing their business closing.
Fast forward to December 2016: against all odds, Donald J. Trump won the 2016 Presidential Election. Searching for performers for his inauguration but scant on those willing, Trump found hope in the Radio City Rockettes, dancers who performed at both inaugurations of George W. Bush and were contractually-obligated to perform by their employer, the Madison Square Garden Company. Due to the controversy surrounding Trump, many Rockettes expressed hesitation and outright disdain at the prospect of performing, with dancers even stating that declining to perform would result in being fired. This anger was echoed by the Left; none other than the Huffington Post classily wrote “The Rockettes would like nothing more than to high-step their way out of their bosses’ plans and kick Donald Trump in his Inaugural Balls. Displaying unbelievable insensitivity to the plight [emphasis added] of women employees, the Madison Square Garden Corporation has ordered its Radio City Rockettes to perform for the misogynist Donald Trump…” In the end, the Rockettes’ employer relented and announced no Rockettes are obligated to perform at the inauguration.
Does anyone smell hypocrisy here? While Aaron and Melissa Klein were bullied, demonized, and punished for desiring to use their business as they saw fit in pursuit of their values, the Rockettes were painted as noble victims for doing something very similar. While the Kleins were battered and beaten by government for choosing to stand by their conscience, the Rockettes were lauded and pitied. This begs the question: is the Left only supportive of the first amendment freedom of affiliation when it comes to those who agree with them?
Let me pose a question; suppose some prolific or wealthy same-sex couple wished to be married and secured a performance by the Radio City Rockettes at their wedding. If any Rockettes objected, would the Left feel the same about their right to freely use their talents? Could the case be, perhaps, that too many on the Left, essential first amendment freedoms simply aren’t as important as cooperation in a progressive agenda? Should the government be used as weapon to force those who disagree to comply with views dictated by this agenda?
Regardless of the answers to these questions, it’s not a complex observation to say that the Left has a peculiar relationship with increasing the role, power, and scope of government. Whether it’s forcing Christians to participate in homosexual weddings or simply smiling and happily carrying on as President Obama wields his pen to issue unconstitutional executive orders, it’s safe to say that as long as it’s their agenda being furthered, many on the Left have no problem with the government growing a little here or enlarging a little there or overstepping some rights of citizens there. However, what happens when the man in the high office of President is not the progressive father figure that Barack Obama is too many on the Left? What happens when the president is a Cruz or a Rubio or, gasp, even a Trump?
For reference, despite being unabashedly conservative, I’m not nor was I ever a Trump supporter; I voted for Marco Rubio in the Michigan primary and declined to vote for Trump (or Clinton) in the general election. Trump and his already-apparent love of power and overreach scare me. Yet, it seems I don’t dislike Trump for the same reasons as those on the Left; while liberals and progressives dislike Trump on the basis of his ethics, demeanor, and ideas, I doubt they would take similar issue if it was Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton partaking in the same type of governmental measures that Trump currently is. That’s problematic. At the heart of conservatism there exists a base-level mistrust of government and its power; while you may be comfortable expanding power of the Lincolns, the Roosevelts, or the Reagans, many conservatives realize that the figure at the head of government won’t always use these powers how we’d like; we’re going to have the Jacksons, the Nixons, and, yes, even the Trumps. While the Democrats and others on the Left have spent eight years extending the power of the executive and government as a whole, on basis of principle conservatives warned against this; perhaps now, under the governance of a man with whom they don’t agree, the Left will come to realize what the Right has been saying for decades.