“A toast — to the Texas Legislature.”
The Republican strategists lifted their cocktails high.
What a session — a brutal blitzkrieg against a helplessly microscopic segment of constituents who barely have a voice: transexuals.
Mass shootings? A fatally flawed electric grid? Schools gasping for funding? Texas Republicans could, in all good conscience, put them aside. Look what else they had to concern themselves with.
Headline in the Texas Tribune: “Texas lawmakers pursued dozens of bills affecting LGBTQ people.” The Tribune needed over 4,000 words to do justice to all the injustices.
Bills to ban hormone therapy for minors, to clamp down on drag shows, to copy Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” restrictions on classroom speech. (That one died when the session ran out, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will bring it back, you bet.)
All fit nicely in a calculated effort to find a wedge issue satisfactory for the hard-right Republican base.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott echoed lawmakers’ assertion that they know better than medical professionals and loving parents when he signed the bill to bar gender-affirming care for minors with gender dysphoria, a move denounced by the American Psychiatric Association.
How could policy-makers with wide-ranging, life-or-death responsibilities become fixated on matters like these? The New York Times has the answer.
In reporting based on interviews with key strategists, the Times detailed how the effort to restrict transgender rights “supplanted same-sex marriage as an animating issue” for the GOP after the Supreme Court legalized social conservatives’ long-standing bugaboo.
“The campaign has been organic and deliberate,” Times reporters confirmed, based on the contrived call to “protect the children.”
Yeah, right. This is politics in the raw with real victims: America’s most marginalized individuals.
Serving a great societal interest? No. Truly in the interest of “the children”? No. Focus-group tested for prime political impact among “the base”? Yes, yes, yes.
It all started with “bathroom bills” aimed at trans rights. Now, reports the Times, at least 20 Republican-controlled states have plumbed bills that, in sum, as one trans woman said, attack her right “just to exist in public.’”
Let’s acknowledge, however, that this high-producing vein of hatred is quickly being tapped out. Short of following Uganda’s lead of prison for homosexuality, where do Republicans go from here?
Let’s listen in on the GOP strategists at the bar:
“I tell you, these are high times for hate. Pass the pretzels.”
“Texas conservatives have looked for a hook like this since the Supreme Court tossed out the sodomy law.”
“It’s been a long dry spell. How are the nachos here?”
“Great. But easy on the jalapenos.”
“So, where do we go from here? No political party has benefited so much from demonizing so few.”
“The best wrinkle is the sports angle.”
“Got that right. We made Colin Kaepernick a bigger villain than any school shooter.”
“True. And this session we convinced our base that a caravan of trannies was bearing down on their local swim team.”
“How can we alarm people now?”
“Try this: I saw a report the other night about a young man born without legs who dominated in high school wrestling.”
“Easy. He’s low to the mat, sneaky, really strong, hard to flip on his back. At the same time, he grabs opponents’ legs with ease. And they have to crouch way down. Totally unfair. Oh, and he’s black.”
“He wouldn’t be on the mat without the woke mob and its crippled-wrestler agenda.”
“How many legless wrestlers do you think are out there?”
“No others that I know.”
“Well, we Republicans made a mortal threat out of one transexual swimmer. One legless wrestler will do.”
“Yee hah. Contact the RNC.”
“Let’s order another round.”
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.