AP has already looked at some of the ins and outs of Trump’s comments on North Carolina’s bathroom law, but the fact is Donald Trump is right. This doesn’t mean I plan on replacing my #NeverTrump magnet with a “Make America Great Again” one or start delighting in the idea of a Trump presidency. But I’m okay with agreeing with him on this even if it may be a case of Trump the blind squirrel finding the nut.
The thing which does bother me is why is this even an issue? I know North Carolina passed the bill in response to Charlotte’s bathroom ordinance, but it seems like an odd hill for the GOP to die on. Ted Cruz, Curt Schilling, and a host of other conservative commentators are making this about creepy men sharing bathrooms with 12-year-old girls. I can see their reasoning, and completely understand their concern, but here’s the thing…I’m not sure the few criminals that are out there really care about what laws they break. If they really want something, they’re gonna try to get it however they want. Yes, there are stories about guys hiding cameras in women’s bathrooms (including the 2013 one of a dude in California disguised as a woman) but these seem to be outliers.
If the GOP was smart about this, they could turn this conversation about predators in women’s bathrooms as a talk about reactionary laws. They could sit there and ask Charlotte or San Antonio or Houston officials why they’re trying to make an issue out of something that really isn’t an issue at all. Most of the stories about bathroom or locker room access seems to be about transgendered teens at school and the reaction from parents. But what people are forgetting is how they have a choice in what school their kids go to. If I was a parent who was worried about bathroom access, I’d send my kids to a private, religious school. There are going to be people suggesting religious schools are too expensive, but some schools offer scholarships or discounts to lower income families. There’s your financial solution. If that doesn’t work, then home school your kids.
The Republican Party also runs the risk of turning away fiscally conservative voters who really aren’t all that plugged in on social issues. Ronald Reagan talked about a party of social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, libertarians, and defense hawks who are all under the same tent. The fight over bathroom access seems to be something which would turn away more libertarian minded people, who are more interested in the government leaving them alone. The GOP actually had an opportunity to show how freedom-loving they were, and blew it. All this debate shows is how both the Right and Left want to rush to government to solve certain things or appease certain people. The better question is, “why should the government be involved at all?” Why can’t individual businesses make decisions for themselves on what bathrooms they want people to use. For those worrying about public restrooms, I made a suggestion on Sunday how it could be handled. It’s not a perfect solution, obviously, but it was only an idea.
This debate over bathroom access seems like a ridiculous one for this election cycle, and something which could end up hurting more than helping. Trump is right on this issue. It will be more interesting to see if he decides to switch his position in the next few days (much like he did on abortion) to make sure the evangelicals who follow him stay with his flock. It just would be nice if the debate was about debt and spending cuts, not about bathroom access.