“Alabama, you are mean as hell.”
“Hold your ground. Don’t let meanness win without a fight.”
Those were the profundities espoused by two of Alabama’s self-proclaimed media opinionmakers immediately after the passage of the Alabama Vulnerable Child Protection Act (SB 184) and the so-called Bathroom Bill (HB 322).
Both were signed into law despite threats from the Biden administration by a defiant Gov. Kay Ivey.
SB 184 prohibits the prescription of transgender conversion therapies for minors, and HB 322 institutes a biological sex bathroom requirement, with an amendment that restricts discussions of sexual orientation at the K-5 grade-school level in public schools.
Some of you may know it as Alabama’s version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a label invented by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ opponents.
Whatever you think of the merits of those laws, and there are meaningful policy discussions to be had, is it as simple as “hate?”
Alabama’s mainstream media throws around terms like “gender-affirming surgery” as if the debate is final and gender is based on however you feel, not the biological traits with which you are born.
If you think any of this is hate, you would have to assume Sen. Shay Shelnutt or Reps. Wes Allen and Scott Stadthagen, the sponsors of SB 184 and HB 322, woke up one morning and decided they would “hate” on transgender youth using their legislative powers one day.
There is no benefit of the doubt. There is no assumption of innocence. There is no possibility this legislation had well-meaning intentions but is just sorely misguided.
The time for debate is over. If you do not accept what you are told to accept, you’re guilty of hate.
Requiring your opponent to accept premises favorable to your point of view is quite an advantage in the arena of political debate. You never lose.
Unfortunately for them, Alabama has long struggled with accepting liberal orthodoxy.
In fact, if Alabama Democrats make this the hill on which to die, there will be losing election cycles for decades.
The culture in this state is not that progressive. It may be someday, but Alabama as a battleground for the culture war is a losing proposition.
It might be a winner outside of Alabama. Sure, the American Civil Liberties Union can fundraise off of the Republican-led Alabama Legislature. Left-wing storefronts can shovel more grant money to showcase liberal causes to media outlets in Alabama.
At the end of the day, they will still be political losers.
Wasn’t this something everyone saw coming? The Alabama Legislature would have to pass laws pushing back against the rapid social change of blurred gender lines. If the incumbents did not, they were sitting ducks for challengers.
Regardless of the May 24 GOP gubernatorial primary outcome, if there is one thing rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ Tim James has done for social conservatives, it is he has forced incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey further to the right.
But it is not a total loss for the ideological left. Although those guys continue to get steamrolled on Goat Hill, SB 184 and HB 322 made victims even more victimized.
The winners are liberal nonprofits and angry AL.com columnists. The losers — well, those who believe administering sex change therapy to a minor is a legitimate medical practice that should only be between the child, their parents and their doctor.
There could have been a compromise. Right now, the law says you must use these bathrooms in public schools, you cannot talk about this sexuality subject matter and these medical practices are prohibited.
The left was never willing to compromise. They do not want to compromise. They want you to accept their premises about society and culture with no questions asked.
For the past several decades, it has been victory through incrementalism. Same-sex marriage is legal in America. Discrimination based on national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex and familial status is not only against federal law, it is shunned.
No one wants to be known as that guy. That was once not the case.
Democrats, go down with this cause if you must. You already face challenging headwinds for the foreseeable future. Barring some miraculous turnaround, the Joe Biden presidency will have set your party back generations.
Sure, party control in Washington, D.C., will shift from time to time. But opportunities like what Democrats have right now will be in short supply.
In 2020, despite a very unpopular president in the White House, Democrats barely won. Then, by some fluke, Republicans lost two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia two months later, giving Democrats control of the U.S. Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker.
What do they have to show for it? High gas prices, inflation, issues at the southern border and a disappointing withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The positives will be low unemployment and a confirmed U.S. Supreme Court justice.
If you care about advancing transgender issues, the climate, prohibitions on abortion or any other liberal issue, your party needs to get the fundamentals nailed down.
“Gender-affirming” causes and issues alone will not carry the day at the ballot if gas is $4 a gallon.
But by all means, if that is what you think will win the day, then go for it.
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