Texas is to the United States as the United States is to the rest of the civilized world. Texas is the place where the antediluvian capitalism Grover Norquist envisioned early in the right-wing counter-revolution—a government so tiny you could drown it in a bathtub—has been most thoroughly realized.
Texas counts. It is third largest state in the Union. What happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas. Republicans almost totally control Texas, and what they have done there is a good clue about what the party wants to do with the nation.
In Texas, huge cities like Houston, have no zoning regulations as described in sociologist’s Joe R. Feagin’s book, ‘Free Enterprise City,’ a critical analysis of the free-for-all capitalism that prevails in Houston and most of Texas.
As a result, in Houston housing developments are built on flood plains with disastrous results when deadly storms strike the area. Factories that produce and emit toxic chemicals are located adjacent to residential areas. They affect the health and safety of people not just through the ‘normal’ pollution such factories produce but also by the not infrequent fires and explosions that occur. Those most affected are low income and minority people.
The ultra-free enterprise model is also why in a state that is the epicenter of the U.S. energy industry, when dangerous heat waves or deep freezes hit, poor people who live in badly insulated mobile homes lacking air conditioning and central heating freeze to death or die of hyperthermia.
Despite many previous warnings, the state never compelled the virtually unregulated utilities—who do not coordinate with utilities in adjacent states who could provide power in case of emergency—to weatherize their operations. Predictably, when the big freeze came huge parts of the electrical grid shut down completely causing a significant number of needless fatalities.
Needless deaths are a thing in the Republican Party DNA. A harsh but accurate judgement. Consider: needless deaths from enabling the spread of Covid; needless deaths from gun violence resulting from Republican advocacy of not regulating weapons of war capable of quickly killing many people.
The arc of death through Republican action and inaction/obstruction is much wider. The lack of universal health care, the meager safety net that leaves poor children in danger of irreparable cognitive and physical harm: those and many other perverse things are the doing of Republicans.
Cruelty was always in the Republican DNA from the time they opposed FDR’s New Deal to alleviate the suffering of those caught up in the Great Depression. But over the last few decades GOP cruelty has grown from a blemish camouflaged by make-up to a prominently displayed tattoo covering the entire body of the party down to the marrow.
Among the public, 58 percent of Americans think Trump should be prosecuted over January 6 — only 19 percent of Republicans agree. More than 80 percent of Republicans thus think that Donald Trump, the cruelest man to ever occupy the White House, should get away unpunished after violently and corruptly trying to overthrow the Republic. Conclusion: the GOP is irredeemable. Too many Americans, those who support Trump’s myriad outrages are too.
As bad as the national Republican Party has become, Texas Republicans are on the next level of reactionary perversity. The recent Republican convention in Texas was an orgy of rightwing desire and lunacy. The Texas GOP declared in its platform that Biden’s victory is illegitimate. It stated that homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice. In the state in which the Uvalde school massacre took place, the Republican platform also calls for weakening restrictions on guns, among sundry other absurdities.
In contrast to the admirable economy of the text of U.S. Constitution, the Republican platform is a sprawling tightly packed 40 pages. The length was needed to produce a blueprint for erasing decades of history and social change. Some of the more outrageous items include the following:
· We support the abolition of all federal welfare programs.
· The official position of the Texas schools shall be that there are only two genders: biological male and biological female. We oppose transgender normalizing curriculum and pronoun use.
· Abolish [U.S.] Department of Education.
· We demand the State Legislature pass a law prohibiting the teaching of sex education, sexual health, or sexual choice or identity in any public school in any grade whatsoever.
The platform is a testament to the extremism, prejudice, parochialism, obscurantism, and ignorance that pervades the Republican Party in Texas and nationally. Homosexuality is declared an “abnormal lifestyle choice.” The Federal Reserve should be abolished. The United States should get out of the United Nations. On and on with crazy ideas.
Not that there are no good news coming out of the Texas GOP meeting, especially the following item:
“Pursuant to Article 1, Section 1, of the Texas Constitution, the federal government has impaired our right of local self-government. Therefore, federally mandated legislation that infringes upon the 10th Amendment rights of Texas should be ignored, opposed, refused, and nullified. Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto.”
Union General Philip Sheridan, who occupied Texas right after the Civil War, said that “if I owned hell and Texas, I would rent out Texas and live in hell.” I have felt the same way for a long time, and now more than ever.
So, let’s say to the right-wingers and the bigots of Texas: Goodbye and good riddance! We will not miss you.