Bathroom bills and other hype that politicians use to distract voters

Posted 5/13/16

Try hard to recall a time when you personally saw a transgender person using a restroom that did not correspond to the gender he or she was assigned at birth. If you can’t, that’s because it’s a rarity. So rare, in fact, as to qualify as a nonproblem.

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Bathroom bills and other hype that politicians use to distract voters

Posted

Try hard to recall a time when you personally saw a transgender person using a restroom that did not correspond to the gender he or she was assigned at birth. If you can’t, that’s because it’s a rarity. So rare, in fact, as to qualify as a nonproblem.

But politicians such as North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory would like people to believe this is the most important political issue of the day. Not taxes, unemployment, terrorism, income inequality or racial injustice. McCrory believes so fervently in the sanctity of birth-gender bathroom usage that he’s willing to fight the Justice Department in court over it.

Presidential election years typically bring out the worst in political hype as politicians work to exploit the fact that voters are already mobilized and tuned in. The goal is to distract the public with highly emotional social issues that seem like a big deal, but, in reality, aren’t.

This is why the antics and passions seem amped up like never before this election season. North Carolina’s gubernatorial elections also occur in November, and McCrory faces a tight race against Democrat Roy Cooper, the state’s attorney general. McCrory saw a local nondiscrimination ordinance passed in Charlotte as the lightning rod he needed to generate front-page news for himself. On that score, he has succeeded mightily.

Don’t buy into his or anyone else’s hype. Voters must not allow themselves to be manipulated by inflated rhetoric over issues that have little or no effect on their lives.Some Missouri legislators want voters to believe there’s massive fraud at polling places, or that gun rights are under threat, and Missourians need protection. They’ve done their best to whip up hysteria about situations in which citizens might need to shoot each other, but won’t be able to because of gaps in current law. They want us to believe the so-called castle doctrine is in dire need of improvement.

What they’re really doing is creating a controversy that they can campaign on as November approaches.

Others wanted Missourians to believe that the religious freedom of cake bakers and wedding-service providers would be at stake if same-sex couples sought their services. For the vast majority of us, this was never an issue worth fighting over. Turns out it really wasn’t, which is why the legislature ultimately let the measure die.

It’s fairly easy to see where the bathroom bill is heading in North Carolina. The business community is rallying, as it did in Missouri, to threaten boycotts, loss of jobs and financial repercussions if North Carolina persists. And since money talks, the bathroom bill’s proponents in North Carolina eventually will come to their senses.

Sadly, though, the wanton pandering for votes will persist. Sadder still is the fact that so many voters fall for the ploy.

— The St. Louis Post-Dispatch