My California friends — even the ones who find the transgender idea abominable — are resolving to have fun and enjoy the imminent and plentiful opportunities a Jenner campaign presents for owning the libs. We all tolerate some contradictions. I think Ronald Reagan was a successful president and believe that his wife should have been tried for practicing witchcraft.
But everyone should be absolutely clear about the consequences. American conservatives are strangely obsessed with celebrity and tend to grant it an authority it does not deserve. So Jenner’s candidacy, if it catches fire in the media, will have two effects. (1) It will blunt conservative objections to gender ideology at a time when “gender clinics” are opening across the country and engaging in a sustained legal and public-relations campaign to establish their place in the borderland between medicine and social activism, the same way Planned Parenthood did before them. (2) The Jenner campaign will effectively pioneer an ersatz “conservative way to be trans.” Jenner’s attitude toward people who object is relaxed or dismissive rather than paranoid and punitive. The campaign will define “conservative trans” as campy and fun, rather than crusading. Jenner’s transgenderism is branded in the same way conservative Evangelicals tried to rebrand: as winsome, and with it, not puritanical, or bent out of shape. Just roll with it.
In other words, Jenner’s candidacy is an authentic California reality-TV production. Great lighting, lots of makeup, guiltily riveting, and fundamentally corruptive to those who follow it.