Don’t Kid Yourself, Houston. You’re Under Attack

The upcoming mayoral race in Houston may seem like business as usual on the surface, but this race is a fight to land the final blows to Houston’s blue ways and take full MAGA-red control of the most diverse, internationally relevant, Democratic-leaning city in Texas.

Don’t Kid Yourself, Houston. You’re Under Attack

Laws do not magically appear from on high swooping down on stone tablets. They are the fancy wish lists of their creators, flawed humans who want something, what to prevent something, want to inspire something or change something. They are rules with penalties. And sometimes, they are weapons used in a similar way as that spoiled kid on the playground who’s losing a game and wants to change its rules. In Texas and all over this country, we are witnessing elected officials who use laws to undermine law enforcement, education, social norms, and the right to vote. Sadly, Houston is in their sightline.

Don’t Mess with Houston

Harris County is suing the State of Texas for creating laws so obviously tailored to Houston and Harris County we can legitimately call them evidence of an attack from the extreme right of the Republican party. These laws are designed to take control of city and county elections and to allow Republican appointees to throw out election results if they “find,” them invalid.

Houston is a Democrat stronghold in the red state. The new state law, combined with other new laws, eliminates the county’s non-partisan elections administrator office and moves management of elections to the Republican tax assessor and county clerk and gives ultimate authority to the Secretary of State, appointed by right-wing extremist Governor Greg Abbott. The county attorney asked the court to block the law because of the chaos it would cause before elections.

Senate Bill 1750 abolished the Harris County elections administrator position. Senate Bill 1933 empowered the appointed secretary of state to “investigate” election irregularities and to order a new election. This applies to counties with a population of more than 2.7 million. I think Harris County is the only applicable county in the state, and it happens to house Democrat-leaning, Houston.

The reason has to do with some precincts running out of ballot paper, and some opening late in the last election. Despite common election glitches, no issues of fraud were discovered. An investigation by the Houston Chronicle found that “Republican claims of intentional voter suppression were unfounded. Ballot shortages were not targeted at Republican areas and problems were not as widespread as state leaders implied. Additionally, Republicans struggled to point to any evidence that the problems changed the outcome of the elections.”

But Republicans used common challenges to revert to the Old South method of mucking with votes and voting rights. I call it shooting a flea with an AR 15. This action came after the state took over the Houston (formerly) Independent school district because of its, “problems.”

My questions: Are any rural voting precincts experiencing, “problems,” requiring state invasion? Why was the size of the county mentioned in the bills, wouldn’t a well-intentioned bill want the same treatment for all counties? And why would anyone trust the same people who have gerrymandered Texas beyond recognition to create predictable victories they couldn’t have won pre-jiggering? (Remember that snot-nosed cheater kid who changes the rules). These right-wing tactics are being launched all over the country by a party that apparently must cheat to win.

David Leonhardt wrote in this New York Times piece, America’s Anti-Democratic Movement, “But American politics today is not really normal. It may instead be in the midst of a radical shift away from the democratic rules and traditions that have guided the country for a very long time.

An anti-democratic movement, inspired by Donald Trump but much larger than him, is making significant progress, as my colleague Charles Homans has reported. In the states that decide modern presidential elections, this movement has already changed some laws and ousted election officials, with the aim of overturning future results. It has justified the changes with blatantly false statements claiming that Biden did not really win the 2020 election.

The movement has encountered surprisingly little opposition. Most leading Republican politicians have either looked the other way or supported the anti-democratic movement. In the House, Republicans ousted Liz Cheney from a leadership position because she called out Trump’s lies.”

The tactics of the extreme right are familiar to African Americans, women, Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized groups. We know sabotage because every filthy, scum-laden, dirty trick has been played on us and people who look like us since the slave ships of kidnapped people landed on this continent. Poll tax, requirements to recite the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution before being allowed to vote, and other despicable, unjust rules were created specifically to silence targeted voices and maintain control of public spaces.

As the right moves backward to its ugly past, we watch in horror because apparently there is no bottom for them. (Think of governors Abbott and Ron DeSantis who deceive and route new asylum seekers to other states under the lie of helping them).  But as we say, ask a Black friend if they’re surprised. Most likely, not.

In addition to using commonplace glitches as an excuse to wrestle control from those who don’t vote for them, these politicians and their followers flood the airwaves with skewed narratives redefining well-intentioned terms like woke. They’ve smeared awareness and compassion in the same way they tarnished showing respect for others with the term, politically correct. If you ask me, when trends are facing the rear, someone is asleep and needs a wake-up call. And respecting people and their rights correctly should be an aspiration. But the most egregious claims by this group of racially privileged liars are those of victimhood. They want to be considered victims of a double standard that was created to disadvantage everybody but them. Let me repeat that in this way, they have the nerve to claim they are being victimized by law enforcement which continues to kill unarmed Black people and has collectively ruined the lives of non-white people for centuries. But apparently, the bottom is now the top and the top is the bottom in the extreme right moral code. Truth died.

Houston: There is a big ass problem

The upcoming mayoral race in Houston may seem like business as usual on the surface, but this race is a fight to land the final blows to Houston’s blue ways and take full control of the most diverse, internationally relevant, Democratic-leaning city in Texas.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and long-time officeholder, State Senator John Whitmire are the headliners. Lee a total Dem, Whitmire, a Dem who’s reportedly cozy with right-wing extremists. In fact, as the right-wingers have banned all Democrats in the state house from committee assignments, Whitmire is the exception.

As the young ones say, don’t get it twisted. If you live and vote in Houston and happen to be a registered Democrat, your vote is being challenged. If your voting place lines are longer than in smaller, Republican areas, you should wonder why. Who limited your polling places? And if you are discouraged by the fact that voting has become increasingly challenging and inconvenient, don’t. Realize that these changes are not organic, they are the result of toxic tampering designed to shut you out.

In the 60s I thought the fight for equal and equitable rights could be won. That was naïve and hopeful. Today, I believe we look at Houston, efforts around the nation to undermine our democratic principles and realize, there is no end to this battle. Those who want a nation of a dominant race, autocratic rule, and selective wealth and opportunity are not about fair and just government. A shining, big-ass example of that is unfolding in Houston and Texas.

Myra Jolivet is a storyteller. First a TV news anchor and reporter. Then came PR work and consulting. That's where she is today - banging her head against the wall - trying to help CEOs and political candidates tell their stories well. Myra writes a series of murder mysteries She was a kid with an imaginary friend. That says it all.