2022 Texas Elections Are High Stakes
I have lived in Texas all my life and am actively campaigning for Beto for Governor knocking on doors, hosting a town hall and seeking to discuss issues such as healthcare (including Texas being the most uninsured state and absence of mental health support), public education, jobs, keeping our isolated electric grid from another meltdown and a woman’s right to her own body with decisions in privacy and so on.
Greg Abbott is a “party line” guy, part of a rich and powerful oligarchy that has held all statewide leadership positions for 30 years creating what might be thought of, metaphorically, as ingrown or incestuous … namely repeated power, control and fear mantras used insular to the group of power. Characteristics become more closed, narrow, more exaggerated, less diverse and passionately shrill and increasingly extreme in the grasp to ratchet up passion for the oligarchy.
I go to Republican meetings and listen to the hostile Abbott supporters who are given the microphone at Beto town halls to express (repeatedly) their concerns. The representations often have “Alex Jones” or “QAnon” style constructs. The hyperbole is around just a few subjects namely 1) without hard evidence there is massive fraud in the election system and Trump is president, 2) dangerous masses are an invasion crossing the border unchecked (no explanation as to who is hiring or feeding these masses), 3) abortion prohibition is a litmus test for devotion to God, 4) keeping firearms available in mass and in publicly displayed is a battle against all the claimed fearful threats, 5) the federal government is evil and Texas must attack to ward off dangerous ideas or Washington, DC., and 6) public schools are a threat to society teaching things such as the existence of racism or that African Americans have been burdened with centuries of oppression, terrorism, trauma with disproportionate suspicion and prosecution, 7) Texas should consider being a traitor to the United States and succeed.
If anyone has read thus far notice the tenor and general “feel” of the two sides of the rhetoric. For detachment and objectivity ask which group of ideas sound more aspirational, solution focused and positive and which group of ideas feels more fearful and reactionary? The pragmatic truth is that if we fantasy imagine Texas divorced from the United States it would be not only traitorous (true actual acts displaying corrupt lost American patriotism and integrity would create an explosion of moral cancer) but an economic, functional, services, cultural and sociological disaster of epic proportion. Our roads, infrastructure, social security, Medicare, ports, defense, what border security exists, integration with US as scale economy to start the long list would be lost. The “brain drain” from universities, businesses and technology would be crippling beyond imagination. Advocates of even considering succession are out of touch with rational thinking.
This brings me to the reason for this article which is a question that fascinates me. How do regular Americans and Texans get to this level of divisiveness and ideas so radical and emotionally charged that neighbors are seen as enemies and discussion and civil debate and even listening to opposing views rejected as if alternate viewpoints were a contagious plague? My hypothesis is at this point the dynamics in Texas involve a brew that includes: 1) rapid and massive socioeconomic changes that create uncertainty and anxiety, 2) a plethora of new communication technologies combined with the vulnerability to democracy of free speech (accuracy, evidence, reason or civility not required), 3) fear, 4) the mixture of state and religion and most importantly 5) power, prestige, position and money.
I’m working as hard as I know to elect Beto O’Rourke as the next Governor because I believe he will work to bring all Texans (including Trump supporters) to the table for being heard and finding common ground, and, because he will help protect the most basic right of democracy which is the right to vote for all legally eligible Texans. I believe the stakes are that high.