By David M. Greenwald
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?