Monday, September 02, 2019


Jennifer Rubin thinks Texas Republicans don't get it.
Another mass shooting in Texas. Once more, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is, oh, so concerned and sad, as new laws go into effect weakening gun regulation. (“I am heartbroken by the crying of the people of the state of Texas. I am tired of the dying of the people of the state of Texas. Too many Texans are in mourning, too many Texans have lost their lives.”) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) sent out the standard “thoughts and prayers” statement (“lifting up in prayer all the victims, their families, and the entire Midland-Odessa community”).

... state representative Republican Matt Schaefer posted on Facebook the kind of statement that the vast majority of Americans would find infuriating: “As an elected official with a vote in Austin, let me tell you what I am NOT going to do. I am NOT going to use the evil acts of a handful of people to diminish the God-given rights of my fellow Texans. Period. None of these so-called gun-control solutions will work to stop a person with evil intent.” ...

The Republican Party of Texas faces a challenge in 2020 that the gun debate only aggravates. An increase in Hispanic voters combined with population growth in major urban centers and suburbia, which now trends blue in Texas and across the United States, could well put Texas in play in the 2020 presidential race and in down-ballot races....

Republicans’ collapse in the Texas suburbs — which is a major factor in making the state competitive — will only accelerate with its defiant attitude on any gun-safety measure.
Except that even as Texas becomes more moderate -- if not actually liberal -- very right-wing Republicans remain quite popular there. As The Dallas Morning News noted in June, the popularity of liberal ideas in Texas isn't hurting Abbott:
The Quinnipiac University poll ... found that 60% of Texans approve of "the way Greg Abbott is handling his job as governor," compared to 28% who disapprove.

... a majority of Texas voters polled said they agree with the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which establishes a woman's right to have an abortion. The poll found 57% of Texas voters agree with the decision, while 36% of voters disagree.

... By a margin of 3 to 1, Texas voters polled said they don't believe businesses should "be allowed to refuse service to someone based on their sexual orientation or sexual identity."

When asked, "What if the business says homosexuality violates its owner's religious beliefs?" Texas voters still said by a margin of 58% to 35% that businesses should not be allowed to refuse service.
And as a New York Times op-ed notes,
Over 60 percent of Texans want more rigorous background checks, according to [University of Texas] polling. A plurality of Texans favor stricter gun laws. Only 40 percent want to ban semi-automatic weapons, admittedly. But Texans are split nearly evenly on banning their high-capacity magazines.
Even 40% support for banning semi-automatics seems high in Texas. And a clear majority support more rigorous background checks.

But it doesn't matter. The zeitgeist of Texas is Republican. Politicians whose positions are the antithesis of what the majority of Texans support remain popular. Beto O'Rourke ran a serious race against Ted Cruz in 2018, but he only came close to beating Cruz. And Texas is one of only 20 states where President Trump's approval rating is higher than his disapproval rating, according to Morning Consult.

Also, it can be very difficult to register to vote in Texas, as Adam Serwer noted last year:
Registering to vote was simple enough. The post office had a form I could print out with my personal information and change of address.... Although I was more than a week ahead of the deadline, the sheer number of new registrations meant that I was not in the system until weeks after the deadline had passed. I was able to check online and see that I was registered, although my registration card did not arrive until several weeks later.

Obtaining an ID was another matter. Texas ... is very selective about which IDs are valid—the Republican-controlled state legislature determined that military IDs and gun licenses are fine, but employee and student IDs are not—and to vote I would have to obtain a Texas state ID. I could get a driver’s license if I turned in my license from Washington, D.C., from where I’d recently moved, and as long as I brought proof of citizenship, proof of my Social Security number, proof of identity, and proof of residency. So I brought along my passport, W-2s, bank statement, insurance statement, phone bill, and D.C. driver’s license....

Texas billed me $35 for my new license; with transportation to and from DPS and the Bexar County elections office, the cost of my registering to vote in Texas topped $80.... For anyone who is missing any of those documents and would need to obtain them, the price would be far higher. I work from home, so I have the privilege of being able to visit these facilities during working hours, and I can afford both the cost of transportation and the necessary documents. I live in the city, so public facilities are not difficult for me to get to. For people with more traditional jobs or who have less disposable income, these barriers stand much higher

Moreover, Texas has all but banned voter-registration drives, which is how many low-income and minority voters are registered, through laws that bar anyone but a deputy voter registrar in a particular county from registering voters in that county. If they tried to register a voter in another county, even they would be breaking the law. From trying to register to casting a ballot, it is hard to vote in Texas, maybe harder than in any other state.
I hope Texas Republicans' luck runs out in 2020 -- but I'm not holding my breath. They seem to have everything under control for at least another electoral cycle of two.

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