No, Liberals Aren’t Losing the Culture War
Ohio potheads and Houston transgenders lost on Tuesday, and that makes Molly Ball conclude that liberals are losing the culture war. Excerpt:
To be sure, Tuesday was an off-off-year election with dismally low voter turnout, waged in just a handful of locales. But liberals who cite this as an explanation often fail to take the next step and ask why the most consistent voters are consistently hostile to their views, or why liberal social positions don’t mobilize infrequent voters. Low turnout alone can’t explain the extent of Democratic failures in non-presidential elections in the Obama era, which have decimated the party in state legislatures, governorships, and the House and Senate. Had the 2012 electorate shown up in 2014, Democrats still would have lost most races, according to Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist, who told me the turnout effect “was worth slightly more than 1 percentage point to Republican candidates in 2014”—enough to make a difference in a few close races, but not much across the board.
Liberals love to point out the fractiousness of the GOP, whose dramatic fissures have racked the House of Representatives and tormented party leaders. But as Matt Yglesias recently pointed out, Republican divisions are actually signs of an ideologically flexible big-tent party, while Democrats are in lockstep around an agenda whose popularity they too often fail to question. Democrats want to believe Americans are on board with their vision of social change—but they might win more elections if they meet voters where they really are.
Oh, Molly, if only! She’s right that the Dems push too far in some places, but I’m afraid this week’s results are only a temporary setback for progressives. The Ohio marijuana legalization proposal was so badly worded that even pro-pot forces in the state came out against it. Still, the idea that Ohio — Ohio! — got to vote on legalizing marijuana is a pretty huge step in the progressive direction.
And on the transgender matter, probably the only reason the Houston ballot proposal failed is because huge numbers of Houstonians hold the common-sense belief that no business should be forced to open its bathrooms or changing facilities to people of the opposite sex, no matter what sex those people think they are. Frankly, I’m glad this happened, because it ought to wake the rest of the country up to how radical the Democratic Party’s leadership is (and how radical the business community, which supported the HERO initiative, has become). Kevin D. Williamson writes about how, in their zeal to bend the arc of justice, out of touch Democrats have become with bread-and-butter issues:
The liberal white lady du jour is Houston mayor Annise Parker, who has just failed — spectacularly — in her tireless and ruthless campaign to bring Houstonians’ private opinions under political discipline through a so-called civil-rights ordinance that would have made the abolition of penis-bearing persons (we used to call them “men”) from the ladies’ locker room an official offense in the same category of wrongdoing as shoving Rosa Parks to the back of the bus.
Williamson points out that Houston’s electorate is heavily minority, and heavily Democratic. And it demolished progressive hopes for the HERO proposal. More:
As I reported earlier, Houston is a city with some serious challenges: roads and transit infrastructure of a distinctly dystopian flavor, heavy debt and enormous deficits projected for the next several years, and billions of dollars in unfunded pension promises for the coddled government workers who make up the backbone of the Democratic party’s governing coalition in the cities. Mayor Parker is a lesbian and therefore a mascot for all things progressive, and her campaign for HERO — a law already thrown out by the state supreme court for having been improperly imposed — brought in millions of dollars of donations from progressive groups nationwide, along with the mouth power of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. None of that was sufficient.
What on earth makes the Obama administration think that, with all the intense challenges facing public schools and colleges in America, forcing them to allow full, unrestricted access to opposite-sex locker rooms for transgenders is an urgent cause? Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune reported:
The U.S. Department of Education reiterated that stance Monday, when it informed Illinois’ largest high school district, Palatine-based Township High School District 211, that it violated Title IX, the federal law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex, by prohibiting a transgender student from using the girls’ locker room.
“The law could not be any clearer,” Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, said in an interview Tuesday. “… The law has been, thanks to Congress, since 1972, that no student shall be subject to discrimination in school on the basis of sex, and it’s my job to enforce that promise for all of our nation’s students. I take that job very, very seriously, and I feel very strongly that all of our students should see their civil rights satisfied in school.”
The necessary assumption, obviously, is that refusing to grant full access to a girls locker room to a teenager with a penis (or to a male locker room for a teenager with a vagina) amounts to sex discrimination. It is by no means agreed upon outside of progressive circles that a male who says he’s a female is, in fact, a female. NPR reported yesterday on how far the Illinois school district went to accommodate that transgender “girl”:
CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: There are five high schools in Township High School District 211, and superintendent Daniel Cates says there are transgender students at all of them. He says the district has fully recognized requests to change names, to reassign gender on school records and has allowed students to choose the bathrooms they feel fits their gender identity since there are private stalls. Even locker rooms, says Cates, are not off-limits.
DANIEL CATES: We have offered access to our transgender students in our locker rooms, and we have asked them to agree and commit to observing an individual measure of privacy when changing their clothes or showering.
CORLEY: The name of the student has not been released, but she identifies as female and plays on a girls’ sports team. She typically changes in a bathroom and, when using the girls locker room, is required to change clothes behind a privacy curtain.
She got everything she could possibly have wanted, except one small thing, but that’s not good enough for the transgender girl, for the ACLU, or for the US Government. Schools and those who attend them will be forced to accept the progressive point of view that denies biological reality. There will be no compromise.
If the extremists in the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party — and Hillary Clinton, who endorsed the Houston proposal — are willing to go this far, where will they stop? The Mitrailleuse earlier this year pointed out how educrats are using the public schools to condition young people to accept the Joy of Caitlyn Thought. He talks about how the Fairfax County (Va.) school board voted to add “gender identity” to its non-discrimination policy:
If the vote had gone the other way, it wouldn’t have mattered. It would only delay the inevitable. The Fairfax school board vote was a microcosm of what’s happening across the country. The tide is going out on the broadly Protestant culture that once defined America. We’re entering a post-Christian Age, where temperance and tradition are code words for oppressive bigotry. If you attempt to defend perfectly normal things like objecting to girls and boys sharing a locker room, then you risk becoming an outcast.
… The real reason behind the push to de-gender bathrooms is deeper than nickels and dimes. This is about changing cultural perceptions. The aim isn’t ending bullying of gay or transgendered students. That would be a respectable goal. Instead, the warriors for LGBTTQ…whatever….are interested in changing our very conception of truth in existence. This really is a war for our minds (paging Alex Jones!).
Orwell, intentionally or unintentionally, taught us that language and history matter when it comes to shaping the future. That’s why transgender supporters put so much focus on pronouns. If our liberal gender-defiers can vanquish sexual distinctions from our vocabulary, then we can kiss the traditional binary goodbye. Everything about the human person will be malleable. And when everything is alterable and fluid, then there is no grounding for understanding our place in the world.
I have a few questions, à la Ross Douthat, for our transgender pioneers. If little Johnny must have the right to pee next to Susie, these should be easy to answer:
Under this new paradigm, should middle-aged men be allowed to share bathrooms with female students? If not, isn’t that both sexism and ageism?
What’s the deal with locker rooms? Should they be de-genderized? Can male wrestlers change next to female cheerleaders? Is it bigoted to answer “no”?
Have you given a modicum of thought about the mental stress this will put on the 99.7% of children who aren’t transgendered and who may be freaked out by the very idea of she-males?
The abnormally high suicide rate among transgendered people is well-known. Is it really prudent to encourage children to embrace identifying with the opposite sex, especially when nearly three-quarters of young people lose feelings of gender confusion over time? Being young is hard enough in 21st-century America. Helicopter parenting, obsession over school lunches, merit-based love, masculinity shaming, hormone changes, toilet humor passing for entertainment – the list goes on. Is it wise to celebrate gender dysphoria while children are in their formative years?
I don’t expect to get an honest answer to any of my questions. At best, I’ll be ignored. At worst, I’ll be doxxed and lose my livelihood. Such is the risk of speaking out for good sense in an era of hysteric egalitarianism. The enlightened minds in academia and the media have settled their opinions. Transgenderism is extraordinary and brave. If you disagree, you’re scum of the earth and deserve a good purging.
Trust me when I say Fairfax is just the beginning.
Yep. If you are a traditionalist Christian, Muslim, or Jewish parent, you had better start making plans now to Benedict-Option your kids out of public school. It may not get to your school in the next few years, but it’s coming. The Republicans are too witless and gutless to stand up to it. The setback in Houston this week is just a bump in the road to our progressive future. Think about it, Molly Ball: the fact that voters in Houston, Texas, would probably have approved a gay-rights ordinance had it not given transgenders the run of bathrooms and locker rooms is actually a powerful sign of how much ground progressives have won in the culture war.