James Kerian: NC "Transgender" Battle Shows Why Republican Coalition Is Fracturing
North Carolina, like every other state in the country, has laws that require certain businesses to have restrooms. In North Carolina, like every other state in the country, businesses where large numbers of people gather provide one restroom for people with two X chromosomes (or, women, as your biology textbook might refer to them) and a different bathroom for people with one X chromosome and one Y chromosome (these people are also known as men, according to the same textbook). It’s obviously not common for the business owners to have to enforce these rules but they have every right to do so and on occasion they have even used law enforcement to do just that.
Some people, due to a psychiatric condition now called gender dysphoria, are uncomfortable with this arrangement and would rather have bathrooms assigned by how one feels about oneself rather than by the biological facts mentioned above. On February 22nd, in a professed attempt to make them more comfortable, the city council of Charlotte, NC, voted 7-4 to pass a city ordinance granting “protections” to people with gender dysphoria. The most well known of these “protections” is a portion of the city ordinance requiring all business owners providing restrooms to allow anyone to use any restroom regardless of biology.
Recognizing that this new government mandate was ill-considered (to put it charitably) the state legislature of North Carolina overruled this new city ordinance on March 23rd by passing (with bipartisan support) HB2. Governor McCrory signed the bill that same day and the laws governing bathrooms were returned to what they had been before seven members of the city council in Charlotte decided a change was necessary. As Governor McCrory said in a recent statement:
“North Carolina was getting along fine before the Charlotte city council passed its unneeded and overreaching ordinance. Now that it has been overturned, businesses can adopt their own policies — like Target has — instead of being mandated to allow men into the women’s restrooms by government.”
This is the part where the American left decided to lose its collective mind over the situation. Government officials from President Obama to to city councils threatened sanctions on the state of North Carolina. Many large corporations and a few celebrity performers threatened to refuse the services they generally offer to the public to the people of North Carolina unless the Charlotte city ordinance was allowed to be enforced again.
Self-appointed social justice warriors (educated on the issue solely by a 140 character tweet issued by their favorite celebrity) took to social media. Rapidly they spread the myth that by bringing the public accommodations law back to exactly what it was for decades prior to the March 23rd overreach by the Charlotte City Council the state of North Carolina was somehow adding “more laws” or hiring “toilet police.”
The social media created frenzy has made the corporate/political response so disproportionate it is simply laughable. Progressives argue that the refusal of states like Florida, Maine, and Kansas to expand Medicaid under Obamacare will cost thousands of lives. But they have organized no massive corporate/celebrity boycott of these states. Progressives blame the the gun violence in California on the less restrictive gun laws in neighboring states, but you don’t see them organizing boycotts of Nevada. Human lives are (as we already knew) just not that important to them. Let a business owner keep the same bathroom policies we’ve always had, however, and now the NBA all-star game has to be moved.
Of all the little tempests that the left has stirred up this should have been the easiest for the right to unite against and simply laugh off. But we have entered this bizarre mindset in which every single faction of the Republican party would seemingly prefer to see Democrats win than to stand with another faction of the party.
Because the media has portrayed the NC law as a social conservative project the libertarians have stayed mostly silent/neutral. One would expect them to be interested in preserving at least the limited legal rights that business owners currently have but they would rather join the late-night comedy hosts in mocking social conservatives. John Kasich decided to use the issue to burnish his “small government” credentials, criticizing the state of North Carolina for succumbing to “the need to write a law” without apparently caring that they were repealing a law recently imposed by the Charlotte City Council. Donald Trump has been on both sides of the issue.
Those who say there are more important issues are absolutely correct. The current state of the law on bathrooms is right back where it was last year, and the year before that, and for decades before that and it is not a disaster. The outrage is misplaced. The boycotts are ridiculous.
But what makes the issue worthy of our consideration is what it shows about the ease with which the left can divide us. There is no reason for those of us who are not committed leftists to be at all divided on this subject except that too many of us want to be told by talking heads on television that we’re tolerant, and enlightened, and compassionate, and kind… and that as long as we’re willing to make fun of everyone else we can come and sit at the cool kids’ table.
Too many of us who dislike Trump hopped right on the media bandwagon when the left blamed Trump for violent leftists attacking his rallies. Too many Republicans who were backing some other candidate played along when the media tried to smear Ron Paul as an anti-Semite. And, of course, the truth is there’s nothing negative the media could say about McConnell, McCain, Romney, Bush or Boehner that hasn’t been eagerly accepted by most of the conservative/libertarian base.
If we don’t want to spend the rest of our lives governed by progressives we are going to have to start calling out leftist dishonesty even when it is directed against those in a different faction of our party. Despite all the smears and lies from the left there is nothing “big government” or “overreaching” about the North Carolina legislature’s decision to continue to allow business owners to restrict the women’s restroom to people with two X chromosomes. If the left can divide the rest of us on something this obvious that ought to be a real wakeup call. If every dishonest attack thrown at our colleagues is used as a chance to stroke our own egos and strengthen our position within the party the left will be happy to keep “helping” us as we push any chance of the Democrats losing an election further and further out of reach.