When it comes to people’s sexuality I figure it’s none of my damn business. I’m glad that at least one Republican still agrees.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) did the right thing when he vetoed a bill that would have prevented gender affirming treatments for those under 18 years old. Unfortunately, his fellow Republicans in the State Legislature overrode him.
But Hutchinson is one of the few Republicans who is making the case for pre-Trump Era conservative principles. In an oped in the Washington Post, Hutchinson wrote, “H.B. 1570 puts the state as the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients and health-care experts. While in some instances the state must act to protect life, the state should not presume to jump into the middle of every medical, human and ethical issue. This would be — and is — a vast government overreach.
“If we are going to be a party of a restrained and limited government, then we actually have to practice those values at some point.”
Hutchinson is trying to reframe the fundamental posture of his party and to put it in a better place. We had a healthier political environment when the battles were fought over the proper role of government. Democrats generally saw government as having a bigger part in improving things for average Americans, while Republicans argued for less government and more personal freedom. That was a debate worth having because the underlying assumption was a national consensus that the public sector had some place in our society; the question was just over how much.
The debate over the essential role of government was a relatively cerebral one. It made it possible for people to disagree without attacking one another as people. But these culture wars fights are toxic. These fights are personal and emotional and they’re not necessarily fought along a continuum. When something is put in the context of a moral certainty, one way or the other, then compromise is impossible and the other side isn’t just wrong, but evil.
Now, I know some readers will recall that Hutchinson is against abortion (he wasted no time in reminding us of that himself in his oped) and they may point to what appears to be an inconsistency on these issues.
Fair enough, but let’s focus on the positive here. Hutchinson took a stance which is unpopular with his party’s activist base. He took a step back from the culture wars. Let’s not fail to give him credit for that.