Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Gov. Greg Abbot of Texas will have blood on his hands

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That phrase means that he is responsible for unnecessary deaths (cf. Donald J. Trump). Heather Cox Richardson writes:

Yesterday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, made good on his threat to defund the legislature after Democrats walked out on May 30 in order to deny the Republicans the number of people they needed to hold a vote on a bill that dramatically reworked Texas elections.

In part, Abbott is likely trying to distract Texans from yet another crisis in the state’s independent energy grid, operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Four months ago, the electric grid failed during a cold wave, leaving more than 3 million people without electricity or heat. More than 100 people died. Now, mechanical failures during a heat wave have pushed the state to the verge of blackouts and have prompted ERCOT to ask people to turn their AC to higher temperatures, turn off their lights, and avoid using appliances that take a lot of electricity.

To make matters worse, yesterday the Public Utility Commission of Texas lifted a moratorium on electricity disconnections put in place on private utilities because of the pandemic and extended because of the February storm. It is not clear how many people will be affected by this change, but two public utilities in Austin and San Antonio say that in late May a quarter of a million households owed an average of $600 on past-due bills.

So it makes sense for Abbott—who has been throwing himself behind Trump-like causes anyway these days—to stir up headlines by defunding the legislature and blaming Democrats, even though, once the election bill failed, a number of Republicans told political journalist Judd Legum, who writes at Popular Information, that they did not know where some of the measures in it had come from and did not like them. For example, one lawmaker said that the provision to enable Texas judges to declare an election “void” at their discretion if someone charged that it had been fraudulent, “would be horrendous policy.” (That section of the bill was actually titled “OVERTURNING ELECTIONS.”) In any case, Abbott’s gesture will hit not legislators, but staffers.

But Abbott’s attack on voting rights in Texas identifies the crux of the current crisis in American democracy. For thirty years, Republicans have strengthened their hand in elections not by adjusting their message to win more voters but by gaming the system: suppressing the vote and gerrymandering.

When voters put the Democrats in charge of the federal government in 2020, Republicans responded by trying to game the system at the state level even more completely. First, when former president Trump refused to accept his loss in the election, he and some of his cronies tried to pressure Republicans in state governments to “find” the votes he needed to win, count out Democratic ballots, or, failing either of those things, allow state legislatures to choose their own electors rather than the ones that reflected the will of the voters. Their justification was the Big Lie: that Trump had won the election but had been cheated of the White House by fraud.

Their attempts led to the January 6 insurrection but did not succeed in putting Trump back into the White House. Since then, in Republican-dominated states across the country, legislatures have used the Big Lie to justify the sort of election “reform” that cuts back voting rights and enables state officials to overturn the popular vote. If those rules go into effect, it will be virtually impossible for Democrats to win a majority in the future. And a one-party government is not a democracy.

The conflict over elections, then, is a conflict over  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

19 June 2021 at 9:48 pm

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