You’ve no doubt heard of Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton, Rep. Louie Gohmert and Sen. Ted Cruz. They’re all making headlines with bizarre efforts to overturn the election and hand President Trump an unearned second term. And they’re all from Texas.
Paxton led off with a lawsuit on Dec. 8 demanding the Supreme Court throw out the electoral votes certified by the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The court quickly said Texas had no standing to sue other states, but perhaps Paxton, who is under indictment, was only seeking standing with Trump in order to get a pardon.
Then Gohmert, surprisingly a former judge, launched an even crazier legal assault on the Constitution on Dec. 28. He sued the Vice President, demanding that Mike Pence reject the votes in battleground states and confirm Trump as the winner. Two federal courts rejected this idiocy almost as rapidly as it was filed.
Then, as if next in a tag team, Cruz weighed in Saturday by assembling a slate of 11 Senators to challenge other states’ votes, saying an 1887 law passed to avoid such nonsense actually allows it. Then he complained when some accused him of sedition.
Cruz didn’t specify the states, but then on Sunday, his former chief of staff, Rep. Chip Roy, objected to the seating of new members of the House from Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, forcing a time-consuming roll-call vote. He explained in a tweet that if the presidential results are suspect in those states, then all election results must be. It turns out he’s not going to object to certifying Joe Biden, but it’s a very confusing stance that’s not surprising coming from Texas.
Finally, though not an elected official, it was Texas attorney Sidney Powell who claimed back in November that Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez had risen from the dead to program voting machines to throw the election to Biden. And we’re still waiting for her “Kraken” evidence of voting fraud.
Like Gohmert, Powell is a former Texas judge. There must be something in the state’s courtroom air.
These Texans (and perhaps Texas as well, because it led lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act and the Dreamers program), seems to believe that Texas trumps — pun intended — the Constitution and the rest of the United States.
Texas is a big state, but it’s only 9% of the U.S. population, and has 10 million fewer residents than California. So its size doesn’t give it dominance.
The Lone Star state is supposedly a rock-solid conservative bastion, but it’s getting less and less so. Trump garnered just 52% of the state’s vote in 2020. That’s hardly a Republican landslide.
It’s an entrepreneurial state, with Austin becoming a startup mecca. But it’s not yet a Silicon Valley, and the state’s top-rated public university — UT Austin — ranks just 42nd on the annual U.S. News and World Report list, while six California institutions from UCLA to UC Davis come in ahead.
Perhaps what we’re hearing from Texas is a cry of desperation as its traditional rural Southern culture collides with America’s metropolitan future. Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are growing rapidly with smart immigrants from all over the United States and the world.
Those cities are where the future is being created, and not surprisingly all voted overwhelmingly for Biden. They did so even as Gov. Greg Abbot limited ballot drop-off boxes and tried hard to hinder urban turnout.
And it’s telling that the governor is suing Austin, the smartest place in Texas, to take over its progressive police force and keep restaurants packed despite record COVID infections. Urban Texas is clearly an enemy.
Maybe “Old Texas,” which Paxton et al represent, believes that by overturning the vote and giving Trump a second term they can somehow turn back time. More likely, they’ll soon learn that time’s up.
Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego.