Last week, America watched as a Republican governor invoked the names of Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley to qualify his position in favor of genital mutilation for minors. Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas was pounded with questions by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, doubling down after vetoing a measure that was subsequently overridden by the state legislature. Hutchinson did much of the same in his discussion with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” this Sunday.
“Are we going to be a narrow party that expresses ourself [sic] in intolerant ways, or are we going to be a broad-based party that shows conservative principles but also compassion in dealing with issues that parents face, that individuals face?” Hutchinson said. “I’ve got to remind my wonderful Republican colleagues that we are the party of Ronald Reagan that believes in the role of limited government.”
Spencer Klavan synthesized the key part of the Hutchinson debacle in The Daily Wire. “We also want [our government] to be just, or else they are hardly governments at all. We want our leaders restrained and humble, not neutered and incapacitated,” Klavan wrote. “We want our federal powers chastened, not nonexistent.”
Why We Need Ordered Liberty
Perhaps the Arkansas governor would be more fit to join the Libertarian Party, where there is an enduring belief that government has no role in ensuring virtues persist – and that ultimate freedom yields prosperity. But to those who concurrently believe that both the government ought to not infringe upon our negative rights and that virtue is dependent upon a fully functioning civilization, we rely on ordered liberty.
We do not rely on copouts in favor of violating human rights in order to stay the path on aphorisms about limited government. The government must be limited, but it also must be functional and serve the purpose of facilitating a morally just society.
“The historic role that we’ve played which is a voice for smaller government, not bigger government, not government solutions, but free enterprise solutions,” Hutchinson said. “While I’m also a social conservative, I do believe we have to balance that with the important question [of] if this is a fight government needs to get in or is this a role of the church?”
What kind “free enterprise solutions” exactly would stop providers from being permitted to provide puberty blockers and cut apart a minor’s genitals? The Arkansas measure, the Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act, takes direct action against the private sphere in performing such activity.
If Hutchinson felt strongly about this issue or if he cared for the youth of this nation who are struggling with gender dysphoria or those who may be influenced by external forces to receive controversial treatment, he would no doubt have supported the measure. He didn’t and it showed.
The reference to whether this is a “fight government” should be involved in, or if it should be up to “the church” is also odd. Clearly, this is a fight government should be involved in, in the same way the government involves itself in underage drinking or sex. The point is that lawmakers are not elected to just sit in their offices until the end of time and sing the praises of “limited government” so nothing can ever be accomplished on behalf of their constituents.
“It’s a conservative position to say that’s not the role of government,” Hutchinson told Tapper, referencing the bill veto. “It is compassionate to say we care for all our young people whether they’re trans-youth or otherwise. We care for them and that’s the message of compassion and conservatism that we need to have as a party.”
The governor claims his veto of the bill shows “compassion and conservatism,” but it is unclear what he even means by that. Allowing doctors to enact such anti-science procedures on minors is not conservatism. And is it compassionate to the interests of families, and to all the people in this country, to allow a mental illness to make way for minors to be abused in the private sector?
Parents Need Legal Backing
Perhaps this entire argument would be different if this bill pertained to adults who wish to receive treatments. There is a fair argument in favor of a government allowing a consenting adult who is 18 or older to choose what they do to their own body. But when we are talking about America’s youth, there is no leeway. Aside from children not being fully developed enough to make such a consequential decision, there have been cases where parents have disagreed over the proper developmental steps to take, pitting children against their guardians.
Take the case of nine-year-old James Younger, whose parents have two different visions of his sex. The father believes the boy is a boy, but the mother, Dr. Anne Georgulas, claims James wants to be a girl. In August 2020, a judge in Texas ruled in favor of the mother to grant the boy a “gender transition.” Meanwhile, James continues to express interest in masculine activities — such as playing flag football a few days ago. Regardless of the intricacies of this case study, the point is that two ideologically dissenting parents have two different visions for their child.
“Limited government” will not simply solve these disputes. Legislation is needed to prohibit doctors from administering treatments and becoming involved in anti-science disputes that inevitably abuse children before they have the time to make determined, prudent decisions.
If Hutchinson wants to be paraded around on CNN as a somehow more “legitimate” conservative, more power to him. There is always room for Republicans to be court jesters in the left’s political correctness kingdom. Kristi Noem knows this well. He should not expect to be welcomed back by real conservatives with open arms.