Published September 26, 2023
This is what moral and, in a lesser sense, political winning looks like: California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s surprise veto of a bill that would have pushed judges to strip custody from parents who oppose gender ideology during custody battles. Newsom may be the most ambitious Democrat in the nation, and he just sent a huge signal that transgender radicalism is a political liability that his party should resist. The transgender movement has grown so extreme that progressive champions like Gavin Newsom are seeing where the winds are blowing.
Given his eager advocacy for the entire LGBTQ agenda, there is nothing principled about Newsom’s decision, which simply underlines why it is a triumph for opponents of radical gender ideology. The issue is becoming, simply, a political loser. Newsom did this for one reason—he wants to be president. He has been positioning himself as the Democratic candidate for 2028 and has concluded, apparently, that signing this dreadful bill would have imperiled his ambitions.
Enduring policy wins happen when one side decides to stop contesting an issue. Justice wins not because everyone on the other side has seen the light, but because their political leaders can feel the heat. Good triumphs when bad people with bad ideas nonetheless do the right thing out of political expediency.
Nathanael Blake, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His primary research interests are American political theory, Christian political thought, and the intersection of natural law and philosophical hermeneutics. His published scholarship has included work on Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Alasdair MacIntyre, Russell Kirk and J.R.R. Tolkien. He is currently working on a study of Kierkegaard and labor. As a cultural observer and commentator, he is also fascinated at how our secularizing culture develops substitutes for the loss of religious symbols, meaning and order.