The Current Culture Wars Come to Arizona Again: Why Both Sides are Wrong

By Alexander Lomax

What do you consider to be an important quality in an elected official? Perhaps their ability to compromise and get deals done, perhaps their approach on fiscal matters and spending. Maybe it’s a major social issue with significant ramifications for you and your loved ones, such as abortion.

Before this past election, nearly no one would have said “drag queens” as a hot topic worth voting on, but such are the battles of the Culture Wars. With four recent bills and four more recent vetoes from Governor Hobbs, drag shows are now front and center at the Arizona legislature, and we all lose as a result.

First, the fact that it has garnered as much attention as it has is absurd. There is not an epidemic of drag queen story-times in Arizona; much like most of the culture war issues in our country, we are not San Francisco. To some degree it is a solution in search of a problem, and attempt to look like you’re fighting an invisible problem; throwing fists at windmills.

And yet, even for a non-existent problem, both sides manage to get it wrong.

First, let’s consider the GOP. The party that supposedly prides itself on small government has managed to completely violate that oath to their constituency by over-regulating even traditional drag shows (with purely adults in the audience). In doing so, there are muddying the waters, of complicating legal and zoning codes, and ultimately ushering in Big Government. The GOP should let consenting adults do what they choose so long as they’re not hurting anyone else; the free market of public opinion has already demonstrated the ability to shut down drag shows involving children via public outrage. It’s a mechanism that works.

But the Democrats are in the wrong as well. By not acknowledging the excesses resulting from their leniency in the culture wars and those constantly looking to push the envelope (such as trans activists thinking that going topless outside of the White House was somehow acceptable behavior) they have serious blind spots here. Drag queens were always the source of bawdy, adult humor, hyperbolic and unrealistic MCs for an evening of excess. The desire to normalize that and bring it to children is inappropriate at best, and plays perfectly into the fears of “grooming” and over-sexualization that many conservatives fear.

Both sides are wrong on this topic, and the best course of action for both sides would be to focus on issues that truly matter to the majority of Arizonans. That doesn’t rile the bases up however, which is obviously the real reason why they’re even talking about it.