The Wedge Issue That’s Dividing Trumpworld
A group of social conservatives wants the president to embrace anti-transgender issues to reverse his sagging poll numbers. Some Trump advisers think it’s political suicide.
By Gabby Orr
August 7, 2020
In late September, during the final tense weeks of the Kentucky governor’s race, a few hundred thousand voters started seeing ads in their Facebook feeds, YouTube channels and text messages. One spot showed a teenage boy dominating a high school girls wrestling competition. The other showed a boy easily winning a girls track race. Both ads posed the same question: Is this fair?
The ads were the brainchild of Terry Schilling, a conservative activist, who runs a think tank called the American Principles Project and thinks ads like these are precisely what Republicans need to win this fall’s elections. Schilling, 34, who works out of an office in the Washington suburbs, has a simple and slightly contrarian philosophy that social issues—not economics—win elections. In the fall, Schilling had watched from a distance as Matt Bevin, a Trump ally seeking to become Kentucky’s first two-term Republican governor, struggled to pull ahead of Democrat Andy Beshear despite flogging economic development records as part of his closing pitch to voters. Beltway Republicans were beginning to brace for a defeat that would not only cost the party a precious governorship, but potentially further weaken the president’s shaky hold on suburban voters.
“What we found was the sports issue got the most powerful response from people, specifically conservative Democrats and independents,” Schilling would explain to me later.
I believe we are going to see nation wide more of these ads and others about bathrooms reminiscent of the ad of a grubby old man following a girl in to a public restroom as the Republicans try to do the Wizard of Oz thing… don’t look at the corruption look over here at “men” on girls team.
To prove that thesis, Schilling is about to test his message on the biggest electoral stage of all—the 2020 presidential race.What can we do to neutralize these ads?
Next week, APP will debut two ads in battleground Michigan that accuse former Vice President Joe Biden, who has generally used his platform to promote protections for LGBTQ youth, of endorsing “gender change treatments for minors,” including surgery and hormone therapies for transgender youth. One of the ads, featuring former drag queen Kevin Whitt, warns that children “need time” to develop a stable sense of their gender. “As a young teen, I felt I should be a woman,” Whitt says. “Seventeen years later, I felt I should be a man again. Treatments to change the gender of a minor are very dangerous and irreversible.”
Look to Massachusetts.
In 2018 for ballot Question 3 that wanted to strip public accommodation protections from us was defeated with 67% of the voters voting in favor of keeping our protections. Their strategy as reported by WBUR,
As WBUR's Steve Brown previously reported, proponents repeatedly stressed the civil rights law "keeps Massachusetts welcoming and fair, protects transgender youths and adults and lets transgender people go about their daily lives, including the use of restrooms."I think will work nation wide; frame the Republican attack as a mean spirited on trans children. I think it could be tired in with the Republican attack on minorities.