Just as we Democrats are getting good advice to focus on bread-and-butter economic issues in the 2018 election, some Republican decides to drag the culture war onto the 2018 ballot.
Box Elder Republican Jack Ray Heyd has filed a close copy of Fred Deutsch‘s shameful, costly, paranoid potty bill (you know, 2016 House Bill 1008, the one Governor Dennis Daugaard had the good sense to veto) with the Attorney General with the intent of circulating an initiative petition to give South Dakotans the chance to bully transgender students out of the locker rooms and bathrooms that correspond to their identity:
The petition comes from Box Elder’s Jack Heyd, who said he was disappointed by Daugaard’s veto of that proposal, House Bill 1008. He and a group of friends have been talking about a ballot measure since the spring.
Heyd says he’s never run for political office or worked on a campaign in an official capacity before but was motivated to act by the veto and President Barack Obama’s guidance on the issue of transgender rights.
Allowing transgender students to use the same facilities as other students is unsafe, Heyd said, and “opens privacy up beyond any reasonable measure.”
“Maybe it’s time the people had their voice heard,” he said [John Hult and Dana Ferguson, “Voters May Get to Decide on Transgender Bathroom Law,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.11.22].
I’m surprised Heyd wants to go to the trouble of a ballot measure. With plenty of new culture warriors on the hunt for distractions in the 2017 Legislature, Heyd has better odds of pushing this bill past a gubernatorial veto. And as any of us petitioners will attest, it generally takes less effort to win the votes of 71 legislators than collect 20,000 signatures and win 180,000 votes from people all over South Dakota.
(Update 13:59 CST: AP says such a bill is likely to be introduced in the 2017 Session; Heyd tells AP, “If they can’t get the job done, then I’ll be ready.”)
Various friends and thinkers are saying we need to respond to the dubious narrative that Trump won on economic concerns by throttling our supposed over-emphasis on social issues and talking about pocketbook issues. But if Heyd puts this anti-transgender initiative on the ballot, I won’t just give an “It’s the economy, stupid” shrug and let the conservative culture crusaders hold the floor. I will play the social justice samurai (or kamikaze?) and tell my neighbors that Heyd’s initiative is as ill-informed and hateful as Deutsch’s bill and that we have an obligation to follow Governor Daugaard’s example in vetoing such bigoted bullying.
If my fellow Democratic candidates need some economic soothing, I’ll point out that a similar bathroom bill has cost North Carolina around $400 million, mostly in economic activity as businesses, sports teams, and entertainers avoid or pull out of the state. I’ll also point out that North Carolina’s paranoid potty bill may also have cost their Republican governor his job; even though Trump won the North Carolina Presidential vote, Democratic challenger Roy Cooper is beating Republican Governor and potty bill-signer Pat McCrory by 6,000 votes.
What’s that? Social justice issues can still break for a Democratic candidate in a Trumpy state? Maybe I should sign Heyd’s petition….
Trivial Tangent: Jack Heyd organized a “Constitution Rally” in May 2013 in Rapid City where Stace Nelson warmed up for his 2014 U.S. Senate bid and posed for one of my favorite political-blog pix ever.