This country is dramatically divided. Some would say Right vs. Left; some would say Conservative vs. Progressive; some would say Fascist vs. Revolutionary. I would probably draw the line between The Willfully Blind vs. The Force of the Future.

Lynn Hirshman




Case in point: our Willfully Blind legislature here in Texas (there are others even more blind, certainly, but here we are): in a state where the power grid gave up the ghost for days in February during one of our fairly rare cold spells and snowstorms, the Governor said his priority would be to ensure that this could never happen again. Bills were presented in the State House and Senate to winterize the grid and compel power producers and distributors to ensure that Texans would not freeze to death again.

            And here we are, at the end of May and nearly the end of the legislative session, and the Lege is still dickering over what minor changes will be made to the provision of electric power in the state. There is no improvement to the Public Utilities Commissions proposed, and the changes to ERCOT are barely worth mentioning. Worse, the House is now proposing to fund the “securitization” of the grid – all the winterizing, and the repayment of the exorbitant rates we paid during the power crisis – by issuing a $10 billion bond package, to be repaid by us, the taxpayers, over 20 years.

            Meanwhile, our do-nothing-real legislature has made all our lives more dangerous by passing a bill allowing people to carry handguns without a license. And neither background checks nor training are considered important. Oh, they also banned hotels from refusing to permit guns in guests’ rooms.

            Another priority, it seems, is requiring that the National Anthem be sung before any game in the state played by a team receiving State funding. 

            And, speaking of team play, a little-known bill is close to being wrapped up that would permit home-schooled teens to participate in public school sports and other extracurricular activities. Why is this troublesome? Coaches and others involved in school sports point out that it would be possible for ringers to spend all their time in training (since they won’t have formal classes to attend), which would give them unfair advantage in league play.

            It looked for a while that the Willfully Blind would make it difficult for transgender children to participate in sports at all (since it would have required them to play on teams of their birth sex). These Bathroom Bill followers-up also would have made it “child abuse” to provide appropriate medical assistance to the trans kids. Fortunately, it looks like these will not make it off the floor in time for the end of the session.

            And then there are the new restrictions on voting – all aimed, of course, at the people of color of Texas, who have shown an annoying tendency to vote Democratic in recent years. The bill places more State control over how local jurisdictions can schedule early voting, place ballot drop-off boxes, organize mail-in ballots, and locate polling places. It’s not as bad as Georgia – we can still offer a bottle of water to those standing in the long lines these changes will inevitably make – but it’s clearly moving in that direction.

            Concerned about out-of-control police? One Senate bill will require the state’s largest counties to hold an election if they choose to switch some law enforcement dollars to less-militarized methods of dealing with the mentally ill or those who are minor offenders. At the same time, these counties would not be able to spend their own money to educate voters ahead of the election.

            And, whatever one thinks about the issue of abortion, we cannot support Abbott’s smugness as he signed into law a clearly unconstitutional bill that virtually eliminates all abortions, thus throwing half of Texas’ citizens under the bus, while ignoring the fact that the vast majority of Texans support the availability of abortion under at least some conditions.

            The Texas Legislature meets only once every two years. If we want to see changes in the way we are governed in this state, we need to be organizing and educating now, so we can be prepared for the next session. The Force of the Future MUST take over from the moribund Willfully Blind.

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