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The rejection of double-minded governing

An expectation of strong leadership against the left’s cultural agenda

Utah lawmakers listen to parents speak out last month at the state Capitol in Salt Lake City about a bill to protect women’s sports in the state, which Gov. Spencer Cox had vetoed. Associated Press/Photo by Samuel Metz

The rejection of double-minded governing
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A deep rift among the Republican Party elite is growing even wider over a fundamental question affecting states across the country: Should state officials aggressively confront the many cultural flashpoints arising in our divided society?

The debate is perhaps most pronounced if we juxtapose two veto-wielding Republican governors—Utah’s Spencer Cox and Indiana’s Eric Holcomb—with Florida’s Ron DeSantis. Cox and Holcomb both vetoed bills ensuring that male athletes could not participate in female sports by asserting they were women. DeSantis, on the other hand, has dominated recent national news coverage by advocating forcefully for legislation that protects children in public schools from kindergarten to third grade from sexualized teaching.

Both sides represent gravitational pulls within the party, one emanating from the entrenched, established interests of the chambers of commerce and the other flowing from the grassroots base of the party. The call for action is also coming from many new voters living in ordinary communities under cultural siege. Fundamentally, the contrast is about what ails the country, what must be done, and how much time we have. It reflects differing worldviews, political constituencies, and dispositions. But these all manifest themselves in a governing skepticism that believes these cultural issues are contrived. The Cox-Holcomb axis does not believe that these are problems worthy of being addressed, even with each new revelation of the left’s stated intentions. A closer examination argues why this brand of GOP leadership should be permanently cast aside.

Take Spencer Cox’s veto message on the bill protecting women’s sports. The governor explained that there are only four transgender kids out of 75,000 playing high school sports, with only one playing girls sports. “Four kids and only one of them playing girls sports,” he wrote. “That’s what all of this is about. … Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few.” His point is that this is not actually a problem. It’s been trumped up to scare communities for political reasons.

The Cox-Holcomb axis does not believe that these are problems worthy of being addressed, even with each new revelation of the left’s stated intentions.

The problem with this sort of thinking is that it represents a total failure of vision and an abdication of principle. It fails to step back and ask why, in just a few short years, are we allowing people’s subjective feelings to erase the biological differences between men and women understood for centuries. Why should we allow the culture to force that unscientific notion upon parents and public accommodations? The thinking of figures like Cox and Holcomb fails to observe what Abigail Shrier has described as a growing contagion: Gender dysphoria historically affected only about .01 percent of the youth population, primarily boys. It is now surging among American adolescents, with girls as a majority.

If there ever was an excuse for such out-of-touch leadership, the past few weeks have extinguished such claims, as the debate surrounding the Florida parental rights legislation and specifically Disney’s vocal opposition has made clear. The purposes of the LGBT movement have been revealed. It demands not only to be left alone but also a license to indoctrinate children in the public schools. Disney executive Latoya Raveneau openly admitted her “not-at-all-secret gay agenda,” where she pushed for “adding queerness” wherever possible. Disney’s president of general entertainment content, Karey Burke, who is the mother of “one transgender child and one pansexual child,” said the company is committed to a majority of its characters representing sexual and racial minorities as part of their Reimagine Tomorrow campaign. These executives are not hiding their aims. Nor are the teachers of TikTok. One teacher admits to being “really sneaky about supporting specifically queer students in your classroom.” Another said she would rather lose her job “than out one of my students to their families.” The left is increasingly saying the quiet part out loud.

There are many things that concerned citizens should expect in their leaders, but first and foremost must be a demand that leaders will not be double-minded, that they will not adopt the worldview and viewpoints of their adversaries, against all evidence to the contrary. They must not be like a man who goes to sleep in the room of a burning house, resting in the knowledge that there is as yet no fire within his room. That is not leadership—it is madness.

Russell Vought

Russ Vought is the president and founder of the Center for Renewing America and Citizens for Renewing America. Russ served as the 42nd director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Donald Trump. Prior to serving in the Trump administration, Russ spent nearly 20 years working in Washington, D.C., in Congress and with grassroots and public policy organizations. Russ graduated from Wheaton College in 1998 and from George Washington University Law School in 2004.

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