“Democrats had a knife, and the GOP had a gun,” writes New York Times columnist David Leonhardt, remarking in particular on what he views as disgraceful Republican abuses of power in North Carolina. Having lost the governorship, the GOP used the lame-duck period to pass laws taking power and patronage away from the victorious Democratic governor-elect.

Leonhardt’s broad point about general Republican excess is being made by many a liberal writer. It is a revisionist history put succinctly by Greg Sargent, a liberal blogger at the Washington Post, that the “GOP shreds our norms in [the] quest for power and Dems don’t.”

This is a deeply ignorant or mendacious view of political history.

We do not defend the Republicans’ North Carolina caper; we already criticized it in this space. But it is stomach-turning to see liberal horror that Republicans should resort to the same tactics Democrats used with gusto. If anything is more irritating than hearing partisans justify their behavior with “tu quoque” arguments, it is seeing a crop of liberal writers aghast that Republicans behave just as Democrats did for decades.

The last two times North Carolina’s legislature moved to strip powers from its governor, it was Democrats doing the partisan stripping and Republicans being stripped. It was also an abuse then, and North Carolina Republicans cried foul, not that anyone seems to remember their protests now. McCrory and legislative Republicans were thoroughly and mercilessly schooled in the art of political warfare by their Democratic adversaries, and finally brought a gun to the gunfight.

Republicans win a few elections and suddenly it is shocking — shocking, we tell you! — that they deploy gerrymandering just as Democrats did for decades. Trump wins an election, and suddenly liberals worry that presidents might govern with pens and phones, and change national immigration policy by fiat.

Suddenly, “obstructionism” is no longer considered a legitimate excuse for a president to announce that his agenda is too important to wait for democratic constitutional processes. Suddenly, liberal writers fear rather than cheer the possibility that a president might start a ruinous and illegal war on his own personal say-so.

When you’re told everything in the political landscape is unprecedented and horrible, you are not hearing a good faith argument. You are hearing the symptoms of defeat. Beginning next month, Democrats will have less power at national and state levels than they’ve had since the Great Depression. They’re losing influence over policy across the map, and it’ll take a lot of political rehab for them to get over it.

If we live in “a new normal in which the America we knew and loved is gone” perhaps it’s because these people were enjoying liberal abuse of power too much to apply the constitutional brakes when they had the levers in their hands.

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