Texas’s Changing Landscape and Misgivings About the GOP’s Far-Right Agenda

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott got his COVID shot, but does he care about his fellow Texans? Cartoon by Mike Luckovich

Texas Republicans’ strict ‘pro-life’ stance conceals a culture of death.

Election Audit for Texas?

Being from the east coast, my stereotypical view of Texas was appropriately dim-witted: Ten-gallon hats, swaths of rural land interrupted by the occasional oil well, monolithically white, die-hard conservative. Trump county.

I suppose I was one of many whose eyebrows were raised when former president Donald Trump, in the pursuit of his baseless claim of a stolen election, asked Texas governor Gregory Abbott last September to conduct some kind of audit of the 2020 presidential election results of four urban counties in Texas.

Remember, this is a state won by Trump, 52-46. This is a state where Abbott’s own head of elections for the Texas secretary of state pronounced the 2020 election “safe and secure.

Abbott is of course complying with Trump’s request.

Sowing Doubts

No more details are necessary here, but you see where this is going. This is not about “widespread election fraud.” It is not about questioning the results. Trump and his cohorts and the Texas governor are well aware of the 2020 census, and the results don’t bode well for the future of GOP hegemony in the state of Texas.

So this audit, or whatever you want to call it, is strictly about sowing doubts about the integrity of elections, in Texas and everywhere else. That might make it easier for Republicans to challenge any election result in which a Democrat comes out on top. It might be happening in your state.

Ft. Worth, Texas, is America’s fastest-growing city with at least 500,000 residents. Source: Paper City Magazine.
Texas’s New Dynamic Multiculturalism

Well, we know Texas is growing. The state gained two congressional seats by virtue of a growth rate of almost 40% in the last two decades…twice that of the country as a whole. But it’s how Texas is growing that’s making conservatives plot ways to obstruct folks, especially people of color, from exercising their right to vote.

It’s mainly because people of color make up 95% of what new Texans look like since 2010, according to the census. In fact, less than 40% of Texans are classified as white non-Hispanic. In other words, less than 40% of Texans are good ol’ boys (and girls). In yesterday’s (Oct. 5) New York Times, guest essayist and Texan Steven Pedigo wrote:

For every new white resident that Texas welcomed over the past decade, there have been three Black residents, three Asians, three people with multiracial backgrounds and, 11 Hispanics. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Austin and Houston also have large L.G.B.T.Q. populations (as a percentage of their residents.

Steven Pedigo, NY Times
Texas Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, the latter of whom was the chief plaintiff in a suit designed to disenfranchise millions of voters in battleground states in one of Trump’s doomed lawsuits after the election. Source: NBC 5 DFW
Blue Texas Is a Work in Progress

Was it about a decade ago when Democrats foresaw Texas going blue by the mid-2020s? Demographic shifts favorable to Democrats, such as those described above, made this fantasy a distinct possibility.

Well, not so fast. There has been some progress: Joe Biden’s six-point loss to Trump in Texas in 2020 was better than Hillary Clinton’s nine-point loss in 2016 which was better than Barack Obama’s 16 point drubbing in 2012. And let’s not forget Beto O’Rourke coming oh-so-close to beating Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, when a mere three points separated them.

Fighting for the hearts and minds of Texas voters has lately been tempered by the GOP’s total control of the state machinery, yielding suppressive voting laws and severely gerrymandered districts such as this one here:

Texas’s 35th Congressional District, represented by moderate Democrat Lloyd Doggett, “packs” Democratic voters in one ungovernable district and leaves the rest to Republicans. It does a grave disservice to the residents of San Antonio and Austin. The new map being drawn by the state legislature is similar to this one. Source: mysanantonio.com
Texans Less Than Thrilled With Republican Policies

The gerrymandered map shown above makes you wonder whether favorable demographic changes will ever liberate Texas from the clutches of GOP dominance. But, according to Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, Texas Republicans seem to be fecklessly helping out Democratic messaging: Polls suggest that “the GOP has alienated sufficient numbers of voters outside of their hard-core base.”

Rubin continues:

A new Quinnipiac poll suggests that Republican radicalism has put them at odds with a majority of Texas voters. In the wake of the Texas law offering to ‘turn in’ those seeking an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest, the poll reports that 77% of state residents say abortions should be legal in the case of rape or incest, including 66% of Republicans. Some 72% of Texans do not want the law enforced, and 60% want to keep Roe vs. Wade in place.

Jennifer Rubin
Texans Want…Gun Control?

Flanked by a crowd who claimed that guns were essential in “an increasingly dangerous world,” Gov. Abbott last summer signed a bill that would allow Texans to carry a handgun without a permit, gun training or background check.

The new law seemed to be a perfect fit for the Lone Star State. But even with a Texas-sized issue such as guns, voters saw things differently. Quinnipiac:

Roughly two-thirds (67%) of voters, including 58% of gun owners, say allowing people 21 years of age or older to carry handguns without a license or training makes Texas less safe, while 26% say it makes Texas safer. Half of voters (50%) say it’s too easy to carry a handgun in Texas, while 44% say it’s abour right and 4% say it’s too difficult.

Democrats Are Winning the Argument in Texas

Here are other results of the poll published in the Oct. 4 Washington Post:

COVID: By a margin of 47% to 38%, Texans believe Gov. Abbott is hurting rather than helping efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Masks in Schools: Texas voters disapprove 63% to 29% that Attorney General Ken Paxton’s was suing school districts that require students to wear masks. By 60% to 35%, Texans strongly support students, teachers and staff to wear masks during the school day.

Masks in Public Spaces. Sixty-four percent of Texans believe local officials have the right to require masks in indoor spaces if they believe it’s necessary. A smaller margin, 53% to 41%, supports everyone to wear masks in public spaces.

Wearing Masks. A healthy majority, 60% of Texans, believe the issue of wearing masks is primarily about public health, while 33% consider the issue of wearing masks all about personal freedom.

Vaccine Mandates. By a 57% to 36% margin, Texans support vaccine mandates for health care workers. For teachers, the approval rating is 54% to 40%.

DeSantis, Trump, Abbott
Death enablers: FL Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump, TX Gov. Greg Abbott. Source. salon.com
Death Cult

It’s a familiar political battle cry: Republicans care for you while you’re in the womb. Once you’re out, you’re on your own. The Republican Party promotes itself as ‘pro-life.’ But today’s GOP is the party of death. Consider:

Every year, 15,000 Americans die from gun violence. There were 3,683 gun-related deaths in Texas in 2019 (last statistical year) or 25% of the national total. Texans comprise 8.62% of the US population. Do the math. Yet, Texas recently passed a law that effectively removed all regulations on the carrying of handguns. It’s like throwing gasoline on a fire.

The denial of climate change has become de rigeur to maintaining your bonafides in the Republican Party (the same as believing in a stolen election). On its website, the World Health Organization estimates that climate change causes 150,000 deaths annually, from extreme weather such as hurricanes, heatwaves and flooding, primarily in poorer countries.

The number of Americans who died prematurely because of inadequate health insurance was estimated at 25,000 to 45,000 annually before the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) became law. Yet Republicans have been relentless in trying to get rid of President Obama’s signature achievement and would have save John McCain’s downward thumb.

And then there’s COVID. Trump’s initial denial that COVID was even a threat cost thousands of lives. And now, COVD-denial and the politicization of mask-wearing and vaccines are taking a heavy toll.

But hey, Texas passed a bill unleashing bounty hunters on young women seeking to terminate their pregnancies after six weeks.

My heroes.

Andrew Goutman

Andrew Goutman is the editor of The Record.

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