The Lone Star State Has Driven Off the Edge of Rationality
Texas is Not Unfamiliar Territory to Me
I wanted to note at the outset of this post that Texas is not unfamiliar territory to me. I lived there for about a year some time ago, in a pretty rural area in the central part of the state. In the years since, I have had business dealings and travel through the state on several occasions. I have had friends who live there, including some more recent transplants and long time, native residents. So, it is with at least a modicum of familiarity that I speak.
The “Texas Mentality”
Everyone is familiar with the image that some Texans like to project. That image of bigger than life, why be balanced when you can be all-out brash. Some, unfortunately, take all this too seriously, as though the idea of the Texas Republic (which lasted about 20 minutes) and the Lone Star, Don’t Mess with Texas bumper stickers are actual philosophies of life.
I think most people think it is just one part fun, one part marketing, but no doubt some have consumed the Kool-Aid. Sadly, that becomes part of the excuse for the train wreck now passing as governance in what could be a really great place.
The Rain (or Reign, if you wish) of Abominations Now Falling
Where to begin the list? I surely will miss some of the key items in any case, but let us start with the following:
- An electric power grid and oversight system that fails utterly in any sort of stress, hot or cold. This is not physics or fate. It is a series of deliberate decisions to cater to the energy industry and forfeit government’s role of oversight and disaster planning. People died so some could make a buck and others were too lazy to do their jobs. People in the energy capital state of America have a worthless, overpriced, unregulated power grid.
- Voter suppression laws that are among the worst in the nation. They are nakedly intent on making it harder to vote, especially if you are in Democratic zones, minorities of several varieties, or rural. They are touted as a cure for nonexistent voter fraud. We have not seen stuff this bad since the high-water marks of Jim Crow years.
- Legal abortion made nearly impossible to obtain (people will still get abortions of course, as they must. They will just do so elsewhere at great expense or locally at great health risk). This is the Handmaid’s Tale brought to life. And borrowing from the Best of the East German Stasi and the Nazis, they have turned neighbors into vigilante informants to make it all work.
- Racism in the classroom sanctified with noise about not teaching Critical Race Theory, even though those pushing such a position have near zero idea what CRT is or why we might want to teach a full and honest history of our country – both the good and the bad. These people are actually saying we should not do so because it might make white kids feel bad. Imagine that.
- Guns? Control? Nah, not in Texas. It is now perfectly legal in Texas to own and carry a weapon, concealed or not, with no license, no registration, no training, no background check. One needs most of that just to fish legally.
- The Joseph Goebbels Propaganda Award goes to Governor Abbot. With a straight face into live microphones, he has said the new voter suppression laws are really voter protection laws. Even more bizarre, when asked what a woman who gets pregnant by rape in Texas should do, he replied they “intend to” eliminate rape in Texas. No game plan or timeline for that one. Good luck. He did not say what a woman who could not bear a child for a myriad of reasons should do when her IUD fails. More to follow, no doubt – I am sure he and his cohorts have a “plan” for that as well.
- Build Trump’s Wall. Texas has plans to spend precious resources building the failed Trump wall. While they are at it, they claim every problem they have (crime, disease, you name it) is caused by illegal immigrants brought upon them by Joe Biden.
- Disease? What Disease? The Texas governor and friends continue to fight the most common-sense steps in a pandemic – vaccinations and mask wearing. We all share the same air, yet they insist individual rights are all that counts. If my kid gets COVID from your unmasked kid at school and brings it home – well, that is the price of freedom, you know. This is at once infantile and deadly. Many local governments in Texas are trying to do the right thing and begging for Austin to do the same. Not going to happen. Look at their hospitalization rates in recent days.
What Do Citizens of Texas Want? How About Businesses?
Remarkably, a host of polls show that most citizens of Texas don’t support any of this nonsense, and business is beginning to make it known they reject it as well. Companies are publicly stating they find it unlikely they will expand in or move to Texas now. Some are even offering to pay for employees to go elsewhere for an abortion or to relocate with the company out of state. At some point, people get tired of being rode roughshod and ignored. Businesses want to be somewhere their employees can live well.
All this in a state with some of the worst statistics in the country on spending for education, maternal and child mortality, imprisonment rates, life span, and most other quality of life measurements.
Gerrymandering, Election Mechanics, and Other Tricks
One may wonder how it is such a travesty of governance continues. The short answer is that Texas has a finely tuned structure of gerrymandering and a widespread tradition of making it hard to vote (even more so with the new laws). The legislature operates as a one-party machine, rarely bothering to even consult with Democrats or the people they represent.
Demographics and Turnout
But times are likely to change in the not too distant future, at least that is possible if the new restrictions are lifted. Texas is an increasingly minority-majority state. Not that all such new voters would vote Democratic, but many will. If voter registration and turnout, especially among Latinex voters can be enhanced, the tide will turn. As in so many places, it all comes down to turnout. Several thoughtful observers think Texas will turn purple if not blue. The question is how soon. The answer is surely not soon enough!
The Future – Four Scenarios
So, in the end, one of four futures likely are ahead for Texas. All four could happen. I can of lean towards number 4 and 3 myself but would happily support 2. Let’s see what happens.
- This Mess Continues Unabated – Seems the short term future that is ahead. But hopefully not for long.
- Finally, People Rise and Organize – The potential clearly exists. The variable is how much people want change. Hey, Georgia just elected TWO Democratic senators; major change can happen if enough people want it.
- About that Lone Star, Republic Thing: We might want to offer Texas that independence long cherished by some who bought the myth. It would be a messy divorce – they likely owe us for back taxes, infrastructure costs, etc., but perhaps we all would be happier being separate.
- Apologize to Mexico, Make a Deal, Build the Wall: Let Mexico know we feel badly about their loosing so much land to us. History is tough. We would like to make it up to them by giving some of it back, in the form of Texas. No charge – it’s the least we can do. Then build that wall, on the NORTH Texas border.
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