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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is a classic Reagan Republican… and that’s the problem. “Republican” and “Democrat” no longer mean what they used to mean. When Hutchinson recently vetoed a bill passed by the Republican-led state legislature that prohibited sex-change procedures on children under 18, he did it, partly, under the mantle of Reagan Republicanism — less government interference in people’s lives. But Governor Hutchinson was rapidly overruled by a legislature more in tune with today’s Republican base, the crises of the present moment, and traditional American values.
Those values are the reason “Republican” and “Democrat” no longer mean what they used to. Not so long ago, Republicans and Democrats pretty much shared the same, basic American values, the ones we all learned in school, in church, through the culture, and at our parents’ knee: the mom, baseball, flag and apple pie stuff. The difference between the parties was not about essential beliefs, but about the best way to achieve shared goals, and the differences were primarily economic. Republicans were the party of big business and the country club. Democrats were for the little people, the unions and more help from government.
Not so today. There has been a seismic shift in American politics. Contemporary politics is less about economics and more about values. The Democrats, or more accurately the woke leftists who run the Democratic Party, no longer hold the same red, white and blue American values. The Democrats have become the party of the elites, big business joined at the hip to an even bigger government. They view the world through a prism of special interests and identity groups.
Today’s Republicans have abandoned the country club and become populists, the party of the little guy, small business, the average Joe and Joan.
And here is where Gov. Hutchison went wrong. In vetoing a bill protecting vulnerable young people from permanent, life-altering surgeries and hormone therapies, he was acting against the will and interests of the majority of Arkansans. His defense of “government shouldn’t interfere” simply fails to comprehend the political moment. There is a deep divide between the parties when it comes to values, morals, and goals, and the government must necessarily endorse one side or the other, implicitly or explicitly. Granting the protection of law to doctors who choose to chemically castrate minors is hardly “neutral” or “restrained.”
So what were his other motives? Gov. Hutchinson, as a big business, country club Republican, wanted to be on the side of recently “woke” corporate America. He was catering to big business interests in his state.
It won’t work, Governor. Corporate America is woke because more and more c-suite occupants are younger elites educated in woke colleges and universities. And because corporate America has no need to placate Republicans. When Republicans are in power, big business gets what it wants without asking — lower taxes, less regulation, and related policies. But when Democrats seize power, corporate America needs to placate. And as Democrats now choose to view the world through a woke perspective, well, so too will corporate America, in hopes of not being hurt too badly.
Ronald Reagan was a great president, the right man for his time. But it’s not that time anymore. The fight is no longer about economics. It’s about culture — preserving the traditional American culture or tearing it down. Today’s populist Republicans want to preserve America. Woke Democrats want to tear it down. Fortunately, for the young people of Arkansas, their legislature chose to act forcefully in defense of America as we have known and loved her.
Frank Cannon is the founding president of American Principles Project. You can follow him on Twitter @frankcannonAPP.
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