I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If radical right-wing theocrat Fred Deutsch says he won’t use his triumphant return to the Legislature to push an anti-transgender potty bill, I should just say, “Thank you, Fred!” and let it be. I should be thrilled that I don’t have to waste the entire Legislative Session beating down (again) stereotypes and paranoia and outright lies about my transgender neighbors and can focus instead on the budget, nepotism, and crony corruption.
But something doesn’t ring right here in Deutsch’s denial of an opportunity for Kristi Noem to fulfill one of the key fundagelical promises on which she campaigned. An issue that Deutsch and his extremist colleagues saw as an urgent matter of child safety two years ago suddenly requires no Legislative attention:
Incoming Republican Rep. Fred Deutsch told The Associated Press this week that he doesn’t see the urgency under President Donald Trump. Deutsch said he proposed the bill in 2016 to push back against federal overreach during former President Barack Obama’s administration.
“I’ve not heard of anybody else that’s going to bring a bathroom bill. I hope not,” said Deutsch, who is coming back to the House after deciding not run for re-election in 2016 [“‘Bathroom Bill’ Sponsor Won’t Try Again During 2019 Session,” AP via Education Week, 2018.12.07].
I don’t recall in 2015 and 2016 hearing Deutsch and friends emphasize that the primary threat was federal overreach; they insisted that children were in peril of peeping pervs. In 2017 and 2018, Deutsch and the radical right didn’t cite the ascent of Trump as the reason they could hold off on potty-panic legislation; they said they’d wait until mean old veto-crank Daugaard would be replaced by someone more amenable to their fundie agenda and press a bill right away in 2019.
Now with the malleable fundie wingnut governor they wanted, Deutsch and the fundies change their story. They could get everything they want from Kristi Noem, but they’re backing off. What—did the Chamber of Commerce finally get through to the yahoos and convince them not to tank our tourism industry?
Please don’t change course, Fred. Please don’t take my complaint as a reason to throw that potty-panic bill in the hopper.
But dare I get my hopes up? Dare I think that maybe Noem’s weak win has the fundies scared that she has a weak mandate? Dare I think that maybe Noem is already looking at winning the 2022 election (because that is the only job Republicans hire her to do) and thinking, “I’ve got to defuse the Sutton advantage among the moderates; I’ve got to stay away from the hot button issues and follow the Daugaard path to a 70%+ win”?
Dare I think that Noem might be ready to back away from other radical right-wing priorities, like a total abortion ban, and just focus on the nuts and bolts of state government?