Commentary: Moms for Liberty Have Failed Politics 101

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – The Davis School Board held a special meeting on Saturday evening.  The local head of Moms for Liberty put out a call to the media and elsewhere that a group of parents will be available to “share our concerns about gender identity ideology being taught in Davis public schools.”

Someone sent me two photos from the scene on Saturday.  One of them was the Moms for Liberty Group—all four of them.  The other was a photo of several dozen counter-protestors.

As a longtime observer of politics and especially mass mobilization, those photos struck me because, after all this time, they demonstrate that that the group really has not expanded beyond its original core group of people.

On Monday, I received a copy of the letter, “Yolo County Is for Everyone.”  (The Vanguard has published it here).   The letter is signed by 40 elected officials across the county including every single currently elected official in the city of Davis and 17 former electeds, most of them from Davis, but also a few current candidates like Christopher Cabaldon and Sheila Allen.

In total over 800 elected officials, organizations and community members have signed on.

This is a massive show of unity, strength and, yes, force.  Moms for Liberty have not succeeded in gaining any policy initiatives, they have succeeded in uniting the community against them without they themselves building any sort of coalition in order to produce any sort of mass action.

There was a single sliver of a moment when the library was shut down where Moms for Liberty might have been able to open up a space for dialogue.  But that was largely dissipated by the repeated bomb threats which disrupted the lives of the community, our children, the teachers, the school district, and first responders.

Unlike other parts of the country, Davis, in the middle of deep blue California, was always going to be uphill battle for Moms for Liberty.  After all, Davis is a community where Trump could not break 15 percent of the vote in the last election.  It is a community where even more conservative people tend to be socially progressive and tolerant.

And while it is true that the left’s commitment to trans-rights lags behind its commitment to other issues of equity, aligning oneself with the far right as local residents have by embracing Moms for Liberty, was never going to go well.

At this point, there is no reasonable path to victory—whatever victory ever actually looked like.

There may be a sympathetic school board member up in Woodland, but in Davis, the entire elected community has turned its back and largely turned the page.

The complaints raised about practices of the local school district for the most part will fall on deaf ears as they are following the dictates of state law.

This is not red California, where the district will attempt to circumvent the state law and fight the Attorney General and Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Instead, this is a community that is far more likely to stand behind the LGBTQ students—many of whom have been traumatized by this entire experience.

As I noted a few weeks ago—if you are truly worried about the health and safety of children, subjecting them to multiple bomb threats is hardly the way to go.

The political system has now been effectively cut off as an avenue to remedy the claims and supposed grievances of Moms for Liberty.  Sure, they can run for school board or city council—but chances are in the current environment they will be buried by an overwhelming community sentiment that runs counter to the organization.

There is of course the court system, but there they run into two massive hurdles.  First, state laws have been passed to protect LGBTQ students and instruction, as well as access to health and medical care.

The state courts are compelled to follow state law and, over the last two administrations, the courts are increasingly stacked with the appointees of Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom.

Further, even the federal courts, which have questionable jurisdiction, are not a likely remedy unless they somehow get to the US Supreme Court—which quite simply they will not.

In short, there is no legal path to any sort of victory in Davis for Moms for Liberty.  And while groups like this remain a threat in other parts of the state and certainly in red parts of the country, what we have seen over the last six weeks has sealed their fate locally.

The only question now is whether they will fade into the background or attempt to become increasingly shrill to keep themselves in the news.

My suggestion to the rest of the community is, once the event is held tonight, simply stop responding, stop engaging.  There is only so much four people can do in the face of overwhelming community sentiment.

It’s basically game over—they have been checkmated.  Will they recognize it and at least afford the community a little grace?

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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37 Comments

  1. Walter Shwe

    The authoritarian radical and dangerous extremist Republican forces behind the vile Moms for Liberty will continue to terrorize Davis, but Davis residents must rise above their violent threats. Outsiders that support this authoritarian right wing group should not be afforded any credence since they don’t reside in Davis. Their only aim is to disrupt the inclusive fabric of our community utilizing violence and fear as their weapons of choice. Davis is just one part of the M4L’s grand plan to take over and subjugate the entire United States in to their own ultraconservative regime where transgender care for all ages and same sex marriage are expressly outlawed. This is their vision of America and it must be halted dead in its tracks.

  2. rbulman

    Yes, Moms for Liberty has failed in an epic fashion. It’s not only because they failed to understand the local political environment. They have also failed because their entire political project is based on faulty assumptions, which will ultimately lead to their defeat more broadly. To accept the Moms for Liberty worldview and policy recommendations you need to assume:

    1. That there is no such thing as an authentic transgender person.

    2. That some nefarious thing called “gender ideology” exists.

    3. That transgender identities are the result of indoctrination by public educators and medical professionals.

    4. That somehow parents have lost their right to raise their children.

    And that doesn’t even touch the equally thin ground of their position on race and ethnicity in the schools.

     

  3. Walter Shwe

    In response to a conservative comment elsewhere, I insist that Attorney General Bonta thoroughly investigate the Moms for Liberty and Libs for TikTok regarding the roles they played in terroristic threats of violence and other violations of state law such as the systematic banning of books. If warranted, criminal indictments should be sought.

  4. beth bourne

    Hi all, I appreciate this amusing commentary by David.

    Do you think it’s possible the silent majority in this town is supporting me and the other 4 parents who were brave enough to speak up at our last school board meeting?

    This piece and the other ridiculous comments are evidence as to why it’s not safe to publicly speak out in Davis against the sterilization and mutilation of healthy kids. The most vulnerable kids to transgenderism are the autistic kids, the LGB kids, and the quirky, creative and empathetic girls and boys.

    Go on to my public facebook page and see the woke mob in Davis that is personally attacking anyone speaking out on gender ideology – calling for our employers to have us fired, boycotting locals businesses, trying to have us socially ostracized from our groups.

    https://www.facebook.com/beth.bourne1

    Why would you ever attack someone who is asking questions and concerned about children being harmed? Why do you think Norway, Finland, Sweden, France, the UK, Denmark, and other progressive European countries are no longer medically transitioning minors?

    1. David Greenwald

      “Do you think it’s possible the silent majority in this town is supporting me and the other 4 parents who were brave enough to speak up at our last school board meeting?”

      I think it’s unlikely and I don’t see any evidence to support it.

          1. David Greenwald

            YOu’re also misusing the term. The term would refer to the middle ground between the two extremes. In the case of Nixon, he was appealing to the voters between Humphrey and Wallace. In this case, you’re misusing it as Trump did, to suggest that extreme voters are part of a silent majority. That’s not what the term meant.

        1. Keith Olsen

          to suggest that extreme voters are part of a silent majority. 

          Someone who’s concerned about their daughter having to shower with a trans woman or doesn’t think that trans women should be able to compete against their daughter in sports is hardly extreme.

    2. Walter Shwe

      Do you think it’s possible the silent majority in this town is supporting me and the other 4 parents who were brave enough to speak up at our last school board meeting?

      There is zero chance of the majority of Davis residents supporting anything emancipating out of the the hateful Moms for Liberty. Your awful reputation is well earned. Maybe Woodland residents will be hoodwinked by your misinformation and lies, but not Davis inhabitants.

    3. Richard McCann

      Beth

      As I pointed out to you earlier, only 1,300 people underwent some degree of surgical medical transition in last year. That’s less than 0.05% of a single year’s class of students in the US. Yes, there are many students who are exploring their gender identity, but the number who actually take the next step is miniscule.  I agree that there needs to be more counseling of those students in the medical system but ending any type of educational support for those students who are exploring the situation would be criminal.

      There really is no evidence of support for M4L’s uncompromising demands in the community. If parents were concerned they would not stand by silently feeling repressed. I’ve seen way too many helicopter parents in action in Davis to ever believe that any of them would just stand by and let a policy that they objected to continue.  You’re living in a fantasy if you believe that there are more than just a few others who support that extreme position. (If you want to discuss only transgender athletes competing in girls’ events, you would much more likely get a bigger response, but M4L apparently doesn’t want to end there.)

      1. rbulman

        A normal political campaign would have targeted one or two specific issues (trans participation in high school sports, State laws about medical transitions for minors, etc.) and begun to make reasonable arguments in public, write op-eds, table at events, lobby the legislature, etc. Such an effort may have convinced some liberal-minded Davisites and perhaps won a few battles.
        Instead, Moms for Liberty chose to use a sledge hammer rather than a scalpel. They expressed a lot of emotional anger and blasted away with questionable evidence and a poorly-constructed political argument. But they never really connected any dots logically that would add up to a coherent (much less effective) political movement. By attacking teachers and librarians as “groomers,” protesting rainbows, posting personal information about teachers in public websites to invite ridicule and threats, and hyperbolically making ridiculous claims about conspiracies of “indoctrination” with “gender ideology,” it’s almost as if they never really thought they were engaged in a real political fight they could win. They just wanted to piss people off.
        Perhaps that was the only point. Maybe it was all about flooding the zone with shit, as Steve Bannon recommends. Well, they certainly flooded Davis with a lot of shit – and it’s up to rest of us to clean it all up.

  5. beth bourne

    David,

    I’m curious about your thoughts on women no longer having sex-protected jails and prisons in California. Do you think it’s wrong that women, usually from low-income/minority groups, are being raped?

      1. Keith Olsen

        But David, that doesn’t answer Beth’s questions.  What are your thoughts on women no longer having sex-protected jails and prisons in California? Do you think it’s wrong that women, usually from low-income/minority groups, are being raped?

  6. beth

    Unfortunately, I’m too busy to have a back-and-forth with the woke mob here in Davis.

    If you want to hear what most of America thinks about your misogynistic, regressive, and homophobic views on gender ideology, please listen to Getty and Armstrong’s  HILARIOUS syndicated news show about Davis CA and the library event where we TRIED to protect girls’ rights to fair and safe sports.

    https://www.armstrongandgetty.com/alternate/amp/2023-08-22-gender-bending-madness-chaos-at-the-davis-ca-library/?fbclid=IwAR2_7akbp_LMW6VWinj_GyjvbcIJ22G5dnKJ8nmDnEkvDCfREKw5B4eOzWE

     

    1. Richard McCann

      A show with a tiny listenership does not represent “most of America.”

      Even so, prior to about 2008 most American’s opposed gay marriage. It’s now widely accepted because the public understood that at change wouldn’t really affect  them and would make many other people happier. We’re now in the same transition on this issue.

      And why do you keep posting if you don’t want to have a back and forth?

  7. beth

    I had to laugh about your last statement in this article after you give all your reasons why I haven’t been effective, you say:

    “My suggestion to the rest of the community is, once the event is held tonight, simply stop responding, stop engaging.  There is only so much four people can do in the face of overwhelming community sentiment.”

    Are you worried that the more people interact and engage with me the faster this entire house of cards will come crashing down?

    In the last 6 months, I’ve spoken with at least 20 or 30 journalists and book authors. I’ve been on every single news station in the Sac-SF region. There have been dozens, I stopped counting a long time ago, letters to the editors and commentaries in the Davis Enterprise, Woodland Democrat, CalAggie, and the Vanguard.

    I’ve had maybe a hundred people reach out to me on facebook, email, or around town to thank me for exposing gender ideology. It seems like it’s mostly Davis fathers that ask me how they can support me in protecting girls’ rights to fair and safe sports. Athletic men know there is a huge advantage in speed, strength and endurance over women and would never want to cheat a girl out of a fair opportunity.

    I could continue to go on with this list. Most importantly though are the people closest to me, my family, neighbors, teammates, etc are supporting me and my courage to speak out.

    I’m sorry there is some type of mind virus in Davis (affiliation with far left democrats and virtue-signaling?) that has taken over the brain of so many otherwise bright people.

    Lastly, I think it’s AWESOME that 400 people in Yolo County were asked to sign a petition to try to get me to be quiet for speaking out on gender ideology and children being harmed.

    I guess I must be pretty effective!

     

     

    1. Keith Olsen

      “My suggestion to the rest of the community is, once the event is held tonight, simply stop responding, stop engaging.  

      So David, does this mean you are going to stop writing articles about M4L and Beth?

    2. Richard McCann

      Beth

      As I said above and several times before, if you limited your discussion transgender athletes, you might make headway. But that’s not your agenda, as demonstrated when you tried to twist my Enterprise letter into support for your broader objective. As I told you, DHS coaches have a concern on this narrow issue. But many of those “supporters” will melt away as you push your agenda further.

    3. Val Syverson

      You’re pretty effective, yes — in rallying our town to oppose your cause. As a transgender person and a Davis parent, I’ve really found it very heartening to see that you’re not fooling anyone. Then again, in a town full of biologists, it stands to reason nobody would believe you!

  8. Sharla Cheney

    Beth, I did try to engage with you.   I felt that you just toyed with me, because after our discussion, you just went on and repeated the same claims a few days later.  I then I started receiving responses to comments I made back in August and I realized that you must be scouring FB and other social media in an effort to increase traffic to your pages. I then had to blocked you on social media.  I have heard from others who have had the same experience.  So people may try to engage with you initially on one aspect of your campaign but then withdraw. There is no silent majority that believes that students with gender dysphoria should stay in the closet until they turn 18 and leave town. There is no silent majority that feels that their parents rights are under attack regarding their own child.  There is no silent majority that believes that all mentions and references to anything non-cisgender should be removed from schools and libraries. There is no silent majority that believes that girls are in endangered by trans girls in Davis.  As for the availability of medical care for children experiencing gender dysphoria, I feel that this should remain between the doctors and the family and we, as a community, should respect that privacy.

  9. Keith Y Echols

    The problem David is that you like the many Liberal Progressives try to see or understand a good portion of the people/electorate as rational people who are capable of fairly objective thought.  The problem of course is that they (and we) are all people that make irrational choices because we have these things called emotions.  It’s all about riling up the like minded….shouting to gain stronger support in the echo chamber.  How many actions and statements aren’t about political discourse towards a reasonable solution…..but a divisive statement or tactic that achieves the opposite of a reasonable discourse and solution?  That’s par for the course in today’s political climate.   To put it another way; the anti-LBGT+ student athlete protests, gatherings and even bomb threats in podunk town like Davis (where it’s so liberal that it won’t make a difference).  No, all this hubub is about “owning the libs” making those silly libs squirm for their vile beliefs.   I mean from a greater national political perspective…who really cares about little Davis?  But fighting some oppressive libs and their censorship of public gathering at the local library….certainly gets the conservative unwashed masses to pay attention and embolden their resistance to the libs on a county, state and possibly national political scale.  So yes, there’s a method to their madness.  They continue to make you dance with your continued resistance.

  10. Ron Glick

    “In the case of Nixon, he was appealing to the voters between Humphrey and Wallace.”

    Nixon  didn’t use the term silent majority until a year after the 1968 election. It wasn’t about appealing for votes it was to take on the anti-war movement. Having received the most votes in the 1968 election Nixon had a legitimate claim of representing the majority against the hippies, yippies and other counter-culture types whose antics turned off large numbers of Americans.

    As for Beth’s claim of representing the silent majority she needs to somehow substantiate her statement. Sadly, her message is getting lost locally because of the lack of strategic thinking by the Anti-trans scene here in Davis. Outing and doxing people and failure to make full throated and persistent denunciations against threats of violence have overshadowed any arguments she is trying to make.

    Additionally Beth’s rhetoric is concerning. I’m not sure what her use of the term “woke mob” means but I hear Republicans use it a lot so when I hear Beth use it I am left with a bad impression.

    Beth seems to be speaking to a broader audience than the Davis community creating a weird dynamic where this community has become fodder for a campaign that is much larger than the community Beth is complaining about

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