by | Jul 26, 2017 | Editor's Blog, LGBT Rights | 7 comments

In the midst of a debate that is tearing the Republican Party apart, Donald Trump this morning yelled the equivalent of “Squirrel!” And like the dogs in the movie “Up!” progressive twitter quickly turned its attention away from health care to the latest presidential outrage.

Today’s diversion is Trump’s announcement that he wants to ban transgender people from serving in the military. It’s a no loser for Trump. His base will certainly support the action. Social conservatives will view it as a firm stand against changing social norms that have been in place for centuries. The people who already think he’s unfit to serve will howl louder, ensuring supporters of the ban taunt them even more on social media.

Trump is hoping to shift their focus away from health care and Russia, if just temporarily, to further divide the country. He knows the tumult that HB2 caused in North Carolina and, last night, the Texas senate passed a bill that mirrors the one that caused so much controversy here. Announcing his ban this morning just adds fuel to the fire, providing the distraction he’s seeking. To Trump, unity is the enemy. Enmity is the goal.

A White House insider believes Trump’s move is also smart political calculous for the long run. “This forces Democrats in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin to take complete ownership of the issue. How will blue-collar voters in these states respond when Senators up for re-election in 2018 like Debbie Stabenow are forced to make their opposition to this a key plank of their campaigns.” In other words, Trump is using transgender people as a political football.

Progressives on twitter point to the outcome of the governor’s election here to illustrate the folly of the president’s move. Roy Cooper beat Pat McCrory because of HB2, not in spite of it. That said, the issue was as much economic here as it was social, but, still, beating up on transgender people didn’t do much to build a winning a coalition for McCrory.

In the short term, the ploy might work. If the bashing transgender people distracts from the attention to the health care debate, Trump and the Republicans might gain some breathing room in pushing through some sort of repeal. Progressives need to stay focused on the task at hand. They can protest the move to discriminate against transgender people later but they can’t stop it now. That’s not true of the health care repeal bills. Action today and this week could have a major impact on the outcome of the current debate in Congress.


  1. Bubba

    Who better than a guy who weasled out of his military obligations by “pleading heel spurs” to pass judgement on who’s fit to serve? He should also testify before the Senate on the miraculous healing of his ailment, in case miracles can find a place in the “beautiful” plan to repeal/replace Obamacare.

  2. Norma Munn

    I agree that it is intended as a distraction, but I think we can all walk and chew gum at the same time. We cannot ignore discrimination. Period. Besides, we are also in the midst of the ongoing saga go Jeff Sessions, the changes in the WH communications office, his conversion of an appearance before the Boy Scouts into a political rant, and a few other things I probably forgot from the last few days.

  3. Kicking butt

    When I heard the news earlier today, my reaction was here we go again and that this was a smoke-screen tactic to take the heat off of the Republican President and the Republican Senators concerning the health-care debate. We need to keep our attention on the US Senate.

  4. Anna M Helvie

    As much as I abhor this decision, which does need to be discussed and rebuked, I commpletely agree that it is a planned distraction. Not only the issues you mentioned are involved, but Congress wants to gut the Congressional Budget Office, and votes on that might start as early as today. They hate the CBO because it regularly issues financial facts that contradict their schemes.

  5. Gwen

    While the intention may be to distract, I strongly disagree with this article’s conclusion. 45’s tweets are doing a lot of harm to a lot of people today. We have to dig in and fight for healthcare AND the rights of trans people.

  6. Jay Ligon

    The White House also yelled “Squirrel!” when they pointed to “Hillary’s many crimes” which Donald claims the AG did not investigate. Donald has two themes: 1) someone else did something bad, not me, and 2) the media is lying about the bad things I did. Sad.


    I think you’re absolutely correct, Thomas. Distraction, distraction, distraction.

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