As has been wisely said, the map is not the territory. I believed this the first time I heard it, and I believe it now. Myopic adherence to principle is, in my view, one of the most pernicious human failings; it's how religion manages to convince people to do terrible things for what seem like the best reasons.
That said, when you make a journey, it's best to bring along a map.
I'm going to jump sideways to what seems an unrelated issue: the recall of Judge Aaron Persky. This will eventually make sense.
As you will recall, Persky was the California Superior Court judge who in 2016 sentenced Brock Turner to three months in prison for sexual assault, and who was later recalled because the sentence he handed down was deemed too light. It's not my intention to revisit the sentence, and while I sympathize with the objections to the sentence, I also recognize that recalling judges who are deemed lenient is going to serve as an incentive to other judges to sentence more harshly. These are competing liberal priorities: the desire to protect victims of sexual assault on one hand, and the reluctance to make sentences over-punitive on the other.
I can totally understand if a liberal prioritizes the former over the latter, and vice versa, but what I cannot grok is a liberal dismissing either one as irrelevant. At the time Persky was recalled, the leftist response I heard to concerns about the effects of harsher sentencing on marginalized groups was: "Rapists get the book thrown at them—end of discussion."
Now, I'm not going to seriously entertain discussion on, say, repealing the 13th Amendment, because the rights and wrongs are pretty easy to discern, and anyone who disagrees is probably just trolling. Most issues are more complex, however, and require an attitude of curiosity and a respect for nuance that "woke" culture often makes impossible. Instead of taking your time sorting through the complexities, you are expected to take a black-or-white position, and fast, lest you appear to lack empathy.
Furthermore, "Lock 'em up!" is a quintessentially conservative attitude—that the only real remedy to crime is handing out prison time like candy. A more liberal approach is to treat this situation as a balancing act between leftist priorities, because, in general, when sentences become harsher, it ain't the Brock Turners of the world who will receive them.
Sussing all this out requires an awareness of just what you value. I am a liberal because I value the principles of open inquiry, empiricism, diversity, and a respect for due process. That is the map I carry with me. I think some others are liberal primarily not due to their values, but because of where their sympathies happen to lie. I don't know what map, if any, they follow. Admittedly, those approaches can often take you to the same place, but I think it matters how you get there.
You can ask, with some justification, why I'm spending time taking liberals to task when conservatives do far, far more damage. Answer: Conservatives are usually troglodytes, and troglodytes are gonna trog. Liberals, however, are supposed to be the good guys, right, and, in my view, if you claim to be one of the good guys, you have to act like it. Drawing your map is a great way to start navigating that particular territory.