Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson just pulled a Kristi Noem. Not only did the governor veto a measure on Monday to ban genital mutilation and hormone treatments for minors — which was overridden on Tuesday by the majority-Republican legislature — but he went on Fox News Tuesday evening and made a fool of himself. He doubled down.
In relying on the fact that the passage of the Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act, HB 1570, makes Arkansas the first state to ban doctors from administering hormone treatment and puberty blockers to children, Hutchinson attempted to convince Tucker Carlson it was an example of government overreach. “This goes way too far,” Hutchinson said.
Carlson asked Hutchinson a fairly simple question: “Why do you think it’s important for conservatives to make certain that children can block their puberty, [and] be chemically castrated? Why is that a conservative value?” The governor’s response shows just how out-of-touch he is with reality. Or, as many conservatives are reiterating today, Hutchinson showed he does not know “what time it is.”
“I go back to William Buckley, I go back to Ronald Reagan, to principles of our party, which believes in a limited role of government,” Hutchinson said. “Are we as a party abandoning a limited role of government and saying we’re going to invoke the government’s decision-making over and above physicians, over and above health care, over and above parents?”
The Arkansas governor seems to completely misunderstand conservatism, which is rooted in the ideas of the common good and of natural law. The common good means that lawmakers have a stake in ensuring evil and bad-faith policies are not passed to the detriment of American citizens. Morals exist, and government has a role in reinforcing them. That’s why murder and child abuse are illegal, and should be.
Hutchinson cites Buckley, but while Buckley certainly believed in limited government, invoking the National Review founder to support this kind of veto is nonsense. Buckley’s 1990 book “Gratitude” laid out the idea of “national service” for children to serve American interests, aligning him with the Edmund Burke camp that determines civic institutions necessary to be protected by a moral and just government. Buckley understood that the government and institutions have some role in the inculcation of virtue.
Limited government does not mean governments failing to protect a child’s natural right to be secure from mutilation even at the hands of his parents. This is a complete obliteration and misuse of the term. A limited government by definition is one that restrains itself in the service of natural rights. Limited government doesn’t mean no government, but government that is restricted to its proper ends, that remains within its proper bounds. One of the proper uses of government is protecting children from literal physical destruction. A limited government, therefore, is duty-bound to act precisely where Hutchinson claims it should not.
Hutchinson said on Monday the bill was a result “of the cultural war” to stake his claim that it is the wrong one to pursue. But by acknowledging the culture war rifling through all of America and claiming conservatives should sit on the sidelines like court jesters in the left’s kingdom, he proves himself unfit to be a leader in these complicated times.
So, in the name of limited government, Hutchinson claimed passing a bill to stop kids from being mutilated “would endanger these young people even further.” To back up this claim, Hutchinson told Carlson that “conservatives” must retreat so as to “not invoke ourselves in every societal position out there.” What he misunderstands is that when the left invades the private sphere to turn it into yet another place they claim dominance, the right must respond and tell them to get out.
To do otherwise is to display cowardice at the moment courage is required. It is to fail to uphold limited government by pushing back against and forcibly restraining those who would expand it to every single facet of life.
If Republicans hide when leftists attempt to ruin the private lives of everyday Americans, society will become a hellish place and the mob will win. If the governor applies his twisted aphorism to all legislation and crises facing our time, there is no telling what would become of our country. In this line of thinking, Republicans will just twiddle their thumbs and sing kumbaya because life is good and Reagan once was the president of the United States while critical race theory and big tech destroy our society, because limited government looks dandy on a bumper sticker.
One of the basic functions of a good government is taking reasonable steps to protect people from bodily harm and children from predation. Hutchinson absurdly denies that he has a role in ensuring the “protection,” as Carlson says, of “children from a life-altering procedure.” Yet when his arguments can be as easily applied to something like banning child rape, which every sane person realizes is a “private issue” that government has a duty to “get involved in,” it’s time for the governor and anyone else who would take his line to rethink their philosophy.
It is not an expansion of government but one of government’s basic duties to protect vulnerable children from people who wish to profit financially and professionally from destroying their bodies. The governor’s thesis that doctors should be able to mutilate children’s body parts in the name of limited government shows it is time for someone far less ignorant and morally hollow to lead the great state of Arkansas.