The North Carolina bathroom brouhaha is a classic case study, almost a solution in search of a problem. It began in 2016 when Charlotte’s city council passed an ordinance adding transgender people to the list of those who cannot be discriminated against. Alarmed about the precedent this might set in other North Carolina cities and what it meant for bathrooms in the public schools and other facilities, conservatives sought redress in the state legislature, which enacted a statute specifically assigning boys and girls (and men and women) in the Tar Heel State to the bathroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.

This legislative victory proved short-lived. It prompted a broad boycott from out-of-state interests and individuals, ranging from the National Basketball Association, which pulled its all-star game from Charlotte, and Bruce Springsteen, who canceled a concert. The Republican governor lost his next election and the Obama administration joined with the ACLU in taking North Carolina to court. In the end, the LGBT forces won the day because that’s how our zero-sum-game politics works these days. Someone has to win and someone has to lose. What other outcome can there be when the entire country is controlled by a ruling duopoly that loathes each other, but who quickly join forces to snuff out a threat from political independents or moderates in the ideological center?

Much virtue, not to mention civic efficacy, is lost in the process.