As the American culture war evolves into a veritable cold civil war in these divided United States, one legal scholar has a novel idea to help red states fend off attacks from the aggressive intimidation tactics of woke corporate America and far-left blue states that want to force them to conform to their progressive values over the will of their own voters.
Jonathan Turley, a legal analyst and law professor at George Washington University, used a commentary piece published by The Hill on Saturday to propose a NATO-like alliance among conservative states whose voters oppose heatedly contested issues such as LGBT ideology, sexuality education in schools, and the “right” to abortion.
Writing that “an attack on one is an attack on all,” Turley paraphrased Article 5 of the well-worn “virtual mantra” of NATO that is so oft-repeated in reference to American foreign policy.
But could such a mantra be applied to U.S. states that are being targeted for boycotts by other states or corporations with a strong distaste for their constituents’ conservative values?
Turley believes so.
His proposal comes in response to efforts on the part of pundits, politicians, corporations, and liberal states in recent years to form boycotts against red states that seek to restrict or ban abortion, limit bathrooms and athletic participation by sex-specific, or prohibit the use of drugs or surgery to treat minors who identify as transgender.
He pointed to California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom who just last week, according to Fox, called on production companies to boycott pro-life states like Georgia and Oklahoma, as well as Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who has both warned against and been accused of fueling boycotts against her own state over election reform laws.
In 2016, North Carolina found itself the subject of corporate boycotts over its decision to restrict the use of bathroom facilities in the state by sex rather than gender identity.
Turley also notes that more recently, The New York Times has warned pro-life states that they’ll risk their “competitive edge” if they enact laws that conform to the will of their conservative constituents rather than the ideological tyrants in blue state legislatures and corporate board rooms.
“Such campaigns have succeeded, particularly with private companies. Indeed, in both restricting speech and boycotting states, the left has found greater success with private companies than with voters in pushing their agenda,” Turley wrote.
“The point of these campaigns is to pressure state officials to ignore the will of a majority of their citizens and pass laws to appeal to corporations and other states in a competitive market,” he explained.
While such campaigns on the part of individuals or groups have been deemed constitutional, Turley notes, “states or companies engaging in such boycotts is a different matter.”
When companies such as Disney decide to go woke, they go broke, as the adage goes. In March, The Daily Wire reported on a poll it commissioned after the family entertainment giant decided to go full bore against Florida’s bill limiting sexuality education in schools.
Of the 1,000 registered voters polled nationally March 12 and 13, it showed that 67 percent of consumers opposed the move, something might ultimately be reflected in how they “vote with their pocketbooks” when it comes to the woke corporation. Only 33 percent of poll respondents thought Disney was right, according to The Daily Wire, so the difference is well beyond the poll’s margin of error of 5 percent.
But despite Democratic politicians claiming that boycotts on travel to blacklisted red states on the part of blue state government simply empower the liberal states to behave like consumers, it goes much further, Turley explained.
“It is speaking as a state to isolate and punish states with opposing views on abortion, transgender rights, gun rights and other policies. In a system based on federalism principles, we embraced the model of allowing each state to reach its own conclusions on divisive questions. The result can be consensus around moderate positions that escape both parties, which often are driven by the extremes on issues like abortion,” he wrote.
Enter the proposed NATO-like alliance to fend off such coordinated attacks on the free will of red states to govern according to the will of their populace.
“There is a way to end this madness,” Turley wrote. “It is an Article 5-like alliance.”
Ideally, he explained, state governments would pass legislation hitting states that initiate boycotts against any other state with a retaliatory boycott. So, the states lashing out at their conservative counterparts would be hit with such backlash … from multiple states.
“The key would be that the agreement must stand on principle, allow no exceptions, and trigger immediate reciprocity: A travel ban on, say, Nebraska would result in a reciprocal ban not just from Nebraska but from every state in the alliance,” he wrote.
“In this way, when a state like California targets a state like Utah, it will shoot itself with roughly half of the country. Eventually the administrative and competitive costs of such measures would become prohibitive,” he explained.
Using California as a further example, Turley explained that there are currently 17 states on Newsom’s target list for their offenses against the progressive values held by Newsom’s constituents and not the constituents in the states that California state entities are now banned from traveling to using state funds.
This includes state college sports teams — he notes that USC and UCLA’s new participation in the Big Ten athletic conference have now been forced to raise private funds to travel to games in blacklisted states.
“Imagine if those 17 states had automatic reciprocity laws — add any one of us to a boycott list, and you will be boycotted back by all,” Turley wrote.
Turley quoted Evan Low, the California assemblyman who authored the state ban under which these states have been made verboten to Golden State entities, who declared that “The current culture war is not a game.”
Turley agreed — which is why he wrote that “we should look to ‘the most successful military alliance in history’ to end reckless incursions by neighboring states.”
As the late Andrew Breitbart was fond of saying, “Politics is downstream from culture.”
Well, to stretch a metaphor, these attempts to punish state constituencies for not aligning with the values of the secular left have spilled quite a lot of blood in the water.
In a republic, voters in a self-governing populace are represented in their state houses and the federal government by representatives elected to speak on their behalf.
California and Disney are not, in fact, punishing the right-wing politicians the left constantly demonizes for supposedly hoodwinking the American people into wicked, hateful values. They are punishing millions of voting American citizens who have — and have every right to have — deeply held values about sexuality and the sanctity of life that they’d like to see reflected in the functions of the state governments their tax dollars fund.
It is truly a culture war — but war is messy, and there’s no telling if Turley’s suggestion, if imposed, would work to regain the power of the American people to vote according to their conscience without being punished by states they don’t live in or corporations that resent them.
It seems a matter of whether or not fire really can be fought with fire, or if doing so would simply make the inferno spread.
One thing is clear — the battle is raging and there have been many casualties, chief among them the sense of national unity over our shared values of representative democracy and the right to self-governance at the state level.
In a country where so many powerful people want to eliminate states’ rights — and obligation — to govern according to the will of their people, there’s no doubt that drastic measures of some kind must be taken to preserve them.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.