Scott’s Potshot

It’s story time!

Paul Scott was a spunky young conservative politician trying to realize his grand ambitions in the Grand Old Party of Michigan. He wanted so very badly to be Secretary of State, but he knew that he needed to be nominated before he could ride the party ticket to victory. Poor Scotty! Despite his good looks and his clean manners, he wasn’t receiving any media attention — probably because of that gosh darned liberal stranglehold on all forms of mass communication. What was a busy dude like Scott supposed to do to quickly earn his face a spot in the papers?

You guessed it — find a minority to pick on. It’s right there on page 3 of the Republican Handbook of Infallible Political Strategery.

On January 15th, Mr. Scott released a letter announcing his candidacy and describing his platform and credentials. He included exactly four specific policy goals. Here is number three, which, for all the math whizzes out there, constitutes 25% of the list:

I will make it a priority to ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance.

Gee, thanks, Mister Scott! I’ve always wanted to be able to write a sarcastic blog post about a politician just like you.

Presumably, Scott remembers the 2004 presidential race, in which numerous proposals protecting the institution of homophobic marriage probably contributed to the right-wing turnout and Bush’s reelection. Perhaps he was also thinking of the zillions of other times conservative politicians have benefited from generalized antipathy toward minority groups. Or, maybe he simply has a very strong psychological urge to be reassured that none of the two-millimeter Fs and Ms on state-issued plastic actually acknowledge the identities of trans people.

In any case, Scott has received a slew of critiques from the left, a smattering of nods from the right, a bucket of “seriously?” from the sane, and, of course, a dirty dumpster of attention from newspapers and blogs all over the place.

Despite admitting that his statement “may have been inartful,” Scott has repeatedly defended his “priority,” arguing that acknowledging the genders of trans people would be tantamount to lying by the government. His most recent explanation appeals to Michigan’s long history of DNA testing for all driver’s license applications: he commented a few days ago that “you are who your DNA says you are.”

Rule number 4 of the Republican Code of Conduct states, “Thou shalt not pay attention in science class.” We already know that the rule applies to concepts like global warming and evolution — now Scott has added DNA to the list, unless he plans on creating new gender categories for all of the people whose sex chromosomes are not XX or XY.

But the best part of Scott’s strategy is that the Secretary of State doesn’t have the power to unilaterally overturn state law, which explicitly allows for gender marker changes on legal identification. This unfortunate circumstance makes his decision to highlight his “priority” rather bizarre. Maybe he’s planning to shape the Secretary of State into a militant organization and then open up a can of coup d’état on the legislature. He could also lobby them, or attempt to stop enforcing the law — or, more likely, he could do nothing.

Lucky for us, history does seem to suggest that one inevitable step on the road to reform is for the right to stop ignoring and start scapegoating.

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