S.E. Cupp, who's no fan of Donald Trump, thinks he got this issue right and Ted Cruz got it wrong
Laws to regulate which bathroom people can use are ridiculous she says
Editor’s Note: SE Cupp is the author of “Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity,” co-author of “Why You’re Wrong About the Right” and a columnist at the New York Daily News. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.
It seems smug to put it this way, but I will give Donald Trump credit for one thing: bathrooms.
It’s not an undercut. On the issue of legislating transgender bathrooms –and maybe only on this issue, if you ask me – Trump is completely right, and his rival Ted Cruz completely wrong.
The billionaire said Thursday on the “Today” show on NBC that, “There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble, and the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and the economic punishment that they’re taking. So I would say that’s probably the best way.
Cruz, in turn, attacked Trump’s view, telling Glenn Beck: “it is simply crazy and the idea that grown men would be allowed alone in a bathroom with little girls – you don’t need to be a behavioral psychologist to realize bad things can happen, and any prudent person wouldn’t allow that.”
I’m not sure how seriously Trump has contemplated this very controversial, thorny issue. Suffice it to say, it’s likely that his position, which is that transgender people like Caitlin Jenner should be able to use whichever gender bathroom they want, was not informed by any deep philosophical contemplation of free societies or identity politics, nor by the limits of the Constitution or the role of the states.
(Again, not being smug … I’m confident this is the case because when pressed later on his position, he walked it back slightly to say that this should be decided by the states and not the federal government, which is perplexing since the controversial laws we’re talking about were passed … by states.)
Rather, it’s likely that, like most of Trump’s “policies,” this one was cooked up in about two minutes, in between a bite of NY strip steak and a swig of Sprite, and is based on nothing more than the chaotic machinations of Trump’s bombastic inner monologue.
It should matter – when picking a plumber or a President – how a person arrives at a conclusion. And that Trump spit out his verdict with the careful contemplation of a carnival fortune teller machine should matter.
But regardless, it’s important to acknowledge when even the least responsible thought process still produces the right conclusion. Maybe that tells us something about Trump’s gut, or his worldview or his humanity.
So forgetting how he got here, let’s acknowledge that Trump’s position is sane, logical and – perhaps most notably – divorced from the cultural persuasions of either his adopted political party or many of his supporters.
For one, on its face, laws that prohibit a transgendered male-to-female from using a public women’s restroom are totally unenforceable. Trump’s famously overly-simplified approach to issues – Build a wall! Bomb the s–t out of them! Ban them all! – is probably helpful here. Are we going to arrest people for choosing the wrong restroom? Are we going to post a police officer outside every public restroom? Are they going to look for Adam’s apples or breasts? Or will guards ask outright what a person’s gender is? This is, in a word, absurd.
For another – and this is the argument Trump would make if he were at all fluent in conservative political thought – it is entirely UN-conservative to essentially grow the government to support an outsized Big Brother police state that will monitor our bathroom trips. This is the stuff of Orwell, not Locke.
It’s also a solution in search of a problem, as Trump noted. Is there an epidemic of trans agitators exploiting their adopted genders to invade women’s restrooms and do untoward stuff to young girls? If so, I missed all the paranoia over non-trans men sneaking into women’s bathrooms, and doing untoward stuff to young girls. What is to stop any man from walking into a public ladies’ room in the first place?
The arguments for such legislation are, in short, entirely fabricated, a cultural and political invention used to stoke public fear, pledge fealty to a cartoonish, far-right totem of morality, and stand athwart some imagined political correctness.
This, it should be noted, is how Ted Cruz arrived at his conclusion. And that matters, too.
The real question is what Trump’s supporters will think. Do they agree that Caitlin Jenner should be able to pop into a stall next to their daughters? Or do they think these laws are right – and Trump is wrong?
SE Cupp is the author of “Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity,” co-author of “Why You’re Wrong About the Right” and a columnist at the New York Daily News. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.