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Will of the People? The GOP Pushes Unpopular Bills Against the Majority
Texas's absence of a representative government is now more flagrant than ever.
HB 20 was a terrible bill. It would have allowed the governor to deputize any citizen or group with authority to set up in any county, stop people, and “verify their legal status.” In other words, “Show me your papers.”
The only stipulation for this so-called vigilante program was that the deputy couldn’t be a convicted felon. But it’s okay if they’re Minute Men, Proud Boys, or Patriot Front. As we all know, much of the GOP has been in the trenches with these groups in recent years. So don’t put it past them.
The bill essentially would allow vigilantes to stop any brown person in Texas and ask them for their papers. Luckily, Democrats in the House managed to kill it.
While watching this debate last night, I remembered seeing the bill laid out in committee. (You can find that here.) But, what I remembered most about that five-hour-long hearing was how many people testified AGAINST HB 20. So, I went back and checked the witness list.
32 people registered in favor of it, and 253 registered against it.
This bill is extremely unpopular. The vast majority of people spoke out against it. So why would Republicans, specifically Matt Schaefer, continue to push this bill, knowing it’s NOT what the people want?
East Texas was specifically gerrymandered to dilute the power of the Black communities in Tyler and Longview.
Here is the racial breakdown of Schafer’s district:
Black and Hispanic communities in East Texas do not have a representative government. Instead, those districts have been cracked and packed to allow white men with Conservative values to be elected.
This has led to a lot of voter apathy, hence why you see such a low voter turnout in Smith County.
HB 20 would have had harmful impacts on marginalized communities in Texas. The bill would lead to racial profiling and discrimination against individuals who “appear” to be of a certain race or ethnicity. We’d be looking at increased harassment and surveillance of people of color and a rise in hate crimes and vigilantism, creating a climate of fear and distrust.
Matt Schaefer was elected by the white people in East Texas who had been part of the ruling class for centuries. Unfortunately, the disenfranchisement of people of color over generations has led to apathy.
While the bill was in committee, it was clear that the majority didn’t want this bill.
The majority of those there that night, the majority of the people in Schaefer’s district, and the majority of Texas; yet, the GOP pushed it through. Why?
Something else interesting happened last night.
During the reading of HB 1585, a bill about more transparency of election finances, Representative Goodwin introduced an amendment that would have capped contributions at $500,000.
A half a million.
During the last election cycle, 18 Republicans in the Texas House pulled in over $1 million. John Lujan (R) from HD118 pulled in the most, with $2.5 million.
Of those 18, three Republican members pulled over $500,000 from a single source. Texans for Lawsuit Reform gave Carl Tepper over $1 million and Caroline Harris over $540,000. Cameron County, Republican Janie Lopez, received $531,000 from the Associated Republicans of Texas. These people buy their seats with mountains of cash being funneled to them, mainly billionaires.
Texans for Lawsuit Reform is funded by billionaires like Janet Duncan, Richard Weekley, and Ross Perot JR.
In Texas, wealthy oligarchs control politics.
Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, Ken Paxton, and every Republican in the Texas Legislature are bought and paid for. Republican money goes way beyond that, down to commissioner courts, city councils, and school boards.
That’s why Republicans push voter suppression bills and gerrymandering so hard. If every registered voter showed up to the polls and voted based on their ideologies, Democrats would win by a landslide. That’s why voting in Texas is so hard. The right is clinging to power with their dear lives.
HB 20 isn’t the only unpopular bill they’ve pushed.
With SB 17, the DEI prohibition bill, 168 people registered against it, and six registered favorably.
SB 220 will establish election marshalls, mainly focusing on urban areas to ensure no people are breaking laws. This is police for polling places, intended to intimidate and scare people away from voting. When this bill was heard in committee, 23 people registered in favor of it, and 102 registered against it.
This pattern repeats on nearly EVERY SINGLE bill the legislative bodies have heard. This has NEVER happened before.
It has been abundantly clear that every bill Republicans have pushed through committees has been widely unpopular.
These Republicans are intentionally working against the will of the people. They have gerrymandered their seats and pushed voter restriction bills. And they operate with so much corruption in broad daylight because they only answer to the oligarchs that own them.
But they are outnumbered in these bills, and we outnumber them in our communities.
In 2020, Republicans beat us by 6%—with a 52% turnout of VAP (voting age population).
In 2016, Republicans beat us by 9%—with a 46% turnout of VAP.
In 2012, Republicans beat us by 16%—with a 43% turnout VAP.
Do you see? The higher the turnout, the smaller Republicans beat us by. And when you look at the VAP turnout in every state, Texas is still at the bottom.
If Texas could pull off and get 60% of the VAP to vote in 2024, a presidential election year, a lot of things would change in this state. That would be 2 million more voters than we saw in 2020.
And 60% shouldn’t be as challenging as it has; 35 states already have higher than a 60% turnout.
The biggest takeaway we should have from seeing how unpopular the entire Republican agenda is when moved through the legislature is that we outnumber them.
We outnumber them.
Texans need to wake up and vote for change.