California Moves to Quit Its Red-State Boycott Failure
When San Diego State University heads to the Final Four in Houston this weekend, it won’t be because California sent them. Under the Democrats’ red-state boycott, Texas is on the no-travel list. The team got around the law, a school official said, because the NCAA was footing the bill. But this is an example of the kinds of headaches Californians have been facing since their 2016 tantrum over conservative policies in other states. Seven years later, the number of banned states is so wildly out of control that even Democrats are saying, “Enough.”
While the Left isn’t coming right out and saying their boycott failed, state liberals are coming close. A few weeks after San Francisco announced they were moving away from a similar policy, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D) said bluntly, “Polarization is not working. We need to adjust our strategy.”
Her statement was significant for several reasons, but mainly because Atkins herself identifies as a lesbian. And it was the LGBT community, back in 2016 when North Carolina passed its privacy law, that so vehemently lobbied to cut ties with states that have a sane view of gender.
Since then, a chorus of left-leaning pundits have lamented the law, arguing that it does more harm than good — a fact that San Francisco’s story bears out, now that the city forks over up to 20% more to outsource projects to blue states. “It’s an ineffective policy that complicates the business of San Francisco government,” Supervisor Rafael Mandelmanm insisted, “and makes it very likely that we pay more than we should for goods and services.”
Lately, the complications over California’s law have affected everyone from scholars to athletes, who’ve all had to automatically disqualify themselves from research or competition in 23 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
In editorials across The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, outlets have called for an end to California’s grudge match. Brandon Robinson, who chairs gender and sexuality studies at the University of California, agreed that the law isn’t “doing anything productive.” “I don’t know how banning us from traveling is going to affect how local legislators vote in Texas. There’s no evidence the law is doing anything that people could claim is ‘working.’”
He’s right. The more states California has banned, the greater the explosion of girls’ sports bills and gender transition protections. It’s like using a “sledgehammer,” The New York Times’s Aaron Carroll chided. “I’m amazed,” he wrote, “at how often people in blue states seem willing to cut off red states when they disagree with them. … Severing relationships over politics only isolates people further.”
And the truth is, California’s attempt to secede from red states is only hurting California. Conservatives don’t need the business from Washington, New York, Vermont, Minnesota, and Connecticut to keep thriving. They’re thriving because of the free market principles the Left has rejected: competition, less regulation, more freedom, lower taxes. If Democrats want to keep isolating themselves on an island of suffocating, repressive, socialist policies, fine. The other half of the country will keep right on proving what a mistake that is.
And how does the Left expect to change other states’ minds if it refuses to engage with them? That was Atkins’s point to reluctant lawmakers, 10% of whom identify as LGBT. To soften the opposition, her latest sales pitch is that lifting the ban gives the state an opportunity to carry their radical agenda into other states more freely. “When I was a teenager growing up in rural Virginia,” she said, “the idea of being accepted as a lesbian was a foreign concept. Times have changed, but for so many in the LGBTQ+ community, the feelings of isolation and fear remain. Lifting the travel ban and putting a program in its place that would infuse inclusive, non-partisan messages in other states is a way that California can help build a bridge of inclusion and acceptance,” she argued.
In other words, instead of banning travel, Atkins thinks California should put a taxpayer-funded program in place to push their sexual agenda in red states. Jonathan Keller, president of California Family Policy, could only shake his head. “California’s short-sighted attempt to bully the rest of the country by banning state travel has been wrong since day one.” Now, he told The Washington Stand, “it seems legislators are planning a government-funded propaganda campaign to spread misinformation about human sexuality and gender. We oppose the Golden State’s attempt to brainwash citizens.”
Regardless of Democrats’ new ideas for imposing their extremism on the rest of the country, the reality is, “A handful of liberal states have been throwing around their weight to try to stop more conservative states from passing pro-life, pro-family, and religious liberty laws,” Family Research Council’s Quena Gonzalez told TWS. “California has been one of the worst offenders. But now, it turns out that California’s a paper tiger.”
“Battling a crushing state budget deficit and hemorrhaging people to lower-tax, business friendly states like Texas and Florida, California officials still tried to quash commonsense laws in Arkansas, Alabama, and elsewhere on gender transition protections for children,” he continued. “But the boycotts backfired, because nearly half the country is pushing ahead with such protections. It’s ironic that the California Senate leader, who herself identifies as LGBT, is saying the bullying doesn’t work. When enough Americans stand for the truth, even powerful states have to back down.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.