What did Republicans and conservatives believe in 2000? They believed that abortion should be outlawed, that marriage was between a man and a woman, and, while they never would have had occasion to say it, that men were men, even if they identified as women.

In the past 22 years, on these issues — the issues around which policy and cultural views have changed the most — Republicans and conservatives have generally moved to the Left.

Many Republican lawmakers and governors embrace gay marriage. On abortion, Republicans are about in the same place. On gender, this wasn’t even an issue 22 years ago, because nobody was trying to claim either that gender was infinitely fluid or that boys who felt deep down like girls should be treated as girls.

What did Democrats and liberals believe in 2000? They were already pretty dedicated to abortion on demand without apology, sure, but they accepted a compromise of no taxpayer funding. Also, they at least tolerated pro-life Democrats back then. They were split on gay marriage, with the party establishment taking the conservative position. And, again, Democrats weren’t really talking about gender fluidity, deadnaming, cisgender normativity, pronoun violations, or housing male violent criminals in female prisons.

Today, the Democratic Party drives out any pro-lifers, declares them to be the equivalent of segregationists, persecutes anyone who won't participate in a gay wedding, and tries to teach gender ideology, as a fact of life, in public schools.

On the social issues, then, conservatives and the GOP have moved slightly left, and liberals have moved hard-left. Yet still, you find liberals, including journalists, who say with a straight face that polarization in America is about liberals staying put and conservatives going far-right.

World’s richest man Elon Musk triggered the debate again these days with a tweet.

Predictably, we got the “data journalism” that “proves” that really, the Right went extreme and liberals are just imitating the Left.

There are three common liberal responses that are more substantive but still wrong.

One is to point to former President Donald Trump, how obnoxious and uncouth he is, or to conspiracy theories taking hold on the Right. First of all, this argument has nothing to do with ideology or policy — it is just liberals equating “Right” with anything bad. Second, it ignores how deeply steeped in conspiracy theories the Left is.

So that’s not an argument to which anyone should pay attention.

The second response is to point out how lots of Republicans and conservatives are fighting culture wars more aggressively these days, to which my colleague Tiana Lowe says good.

It’s just as apt to say the Ukrainians got much more aggressive in the past 10 years, because look at how they built up their military. And since February, Ukrainians have been sinking Russian ships, shooting down Russian fighter jets, and killing Russian soldiers.

There's an analogy in the culture wars. America's Left, in the past decade, has launched an unprecedented culture war offensive, and the Right has to play defense or, on occasion, launch counteroffensives.

Last decade, the media worried about the flood of religious liberty laws. Why are so many lawmakers passing these laws? Is this some new assault on gays?

This sort of commentary and "news" created a mind-bending experience to those of us not on the Left. It's obvious why we were passing religious liberty laws. Conservatives were building up defenses for conscience rights because the Left was attacking the freedom of conscience in ways it never had before. Nobody thought in 2000 that government agencies would persecute a baker or photographer for choosing the sort of weddings he or she would participate in.

So, yes, once the Left decided that it would use the power of the government to force religious conservatives to violate their consciences by acting according to the beliefs that had been dominant in the United States from 1776 until 2011, conservatives started trying to erect barricades.

And yes, books and curricula teaching children brand-new, harmful theories about gender are also under attack. Is this new? Yes, it's new, because these harmful ideas about gender are new. We didn’t feel, 20 years ago, that we needed to defend the idea that boys are boys and girls are girls.

So this is the most substantive argument the Left has in its claims that conservatives are becoming more extreme: We never used to fight back, and when the Left wasn’t attacking the foundational understanding of humanity, conservatives weren’t worried about defending these self-evident truths.

We believe, largely, what we believed 22 years ago. The only difference is that we have to defend it more fiercely today because the views half the Left held in 2000 are now called bigotry.