Politics & Policy

Hillary Clinton and the Democrats Have a Houston Problem

(File photo: Max Whittaker/Getty)

It was a shocking election, shocking to Democrats who fell victim to their own bubble propaganda that social issues are going to be the key to their comeback, and shocking to establishment conservatives who have fallen victim to the “truce strategy” of silence on social issues, which feeds the Democrats’ overreach.

How could Hillary Clinton have gotten herself in the position of endorsing the “right” of biological males to shower in girls’ locker rooms?

Houston was supposed to be the beachhead of a great expansion of transgender rights, by a political elite that mistakes GOP submission, and public quiescence in the face of a celebrity coming-out session by the former Bruce Jenner, for broad public support. The Human Rights Campaign’s internal polls (I am told) showed them ahead by seven points in the final weeks of the referendum on the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). They poured as much as $650,000 into the campaign, with supporters outspending opponents by three to one or more. Instead they got slaughtered by Houston voters, in a Democrat-controlled city led by a lesbian mayor, 61 percent to 39 percent.

RELATED: From Houston, Signs of How the Democratic Party Is Bound to Fracture

And in Virginia, Planned Parenthood and Clinton-ally governor Terry McAuliffe’s well-funded plan to regain the state-senate majority by painting Republicans as social-issues extremists similarly failed.

Here’s the thing though: Hillary, the Democratic frontrunner, was in a Twitterfight with Texas Governor Greg Abbott (bless him) . . . As far as I can tell not a single top-tier GOP candidate for president saw this an opportunity to demonstrate solidarity with the black Church and its rebellion against Democrats’ prioritizing of their rich white gay donors over black pastors’ concerns. In the many years I fought at the frontlines of the gay-marriage war, we got used to this frustrating dynamic: Democrat politicians all in, Republican politicians wary of speaking, lest they alienate their donors or catch the ire of the media.

#share#The capacity of progressive elites to use their “soft power” to persuade Republicans to stand down is one of the most powerful and least noticed political dynamics in American politics, one I learned from Frank Cannon, the chairman of the American Principles Project. Cannon asks a good question: Does anyone believe Hillary will be asked on national TV next week about whether or not she supports President Obama’s regulations forcing public schools to let biological boys on girls’ sports teams, in girls’ bathrooms, and in girls’ showering facilities? Will she side with Houston voters or her LGBT donors? “Unless the Republican candidates raise the issue publicly, Democrats get a pass on their increasing extremism on late-term abortion, marriage, and religious liberty,” Cannon tells me.

RELATED: The Lesson of Houston and Kentucky: Social-Justice Bullies Lose

One politician who did not make that mistake was Kentucky’s Matt Bevin, and on Tuesday he reaped the fruit of his decision to put Kim Davis and Common Core at the center of his campaign. A few days before the election, the now governor-elect Bevin told the Washington Post that he had planned to campaign on economic issues, but he found voters wanted to hear about social issues: “I hear more about those now as I’m out on the campaign trail than I do about anything else,” he said.

Bevin’s upset victory in Kentucky is a victory for Kim Davis, a rebuke to those who say social issues hurt the GOP, and a call for Republicans nationally to support the First Amendment Defense Act.

EDITORIAL: In Houston, a Victory for Common Sense over Ideology

Hillary Clinton has a Houston problem, but so does Paul Ryan. Congress is about to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, a series of federal mandates, even as the Obama White House is misusing Title IX to force every public high school in America to let transgender people with penises shower in the girls’ locker room. We should not be rushing to reauthorize NCLB — especially in the midst of tanking tests scores — under Obama at all. But if we do, surely we could at a minimum guarantee that no high school educating students in America is going to be punished for offering private accommodations to transgender students, rather than requiring girls to shower with biological males.

The Republican party’s problem is not winning elections: The Democrats are decimating themselves across America. The Republicans’ problem is proving that winning elections actually matters.

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