Julia Sugarbaker said it best:
I’m saying this is the south, and we’re proud of our crazy people. We don’t hide them up in the attic. We bring them right down to the living room and show ‘em off.
Except in Texas, we like to go one better. We don’t bring them down to the living room. Not even the front porch. We elect our crazy people to public office.
Before the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, if a politician said something crazy, you just looked for two things: 1) Is it someone from Texas? 2) Is it Louie Gohmert? More times than I care to count, the answer to both questions was yes.
But over the last four months, I’ve become concerned that maybe the crazy is starting to spread, and Texas is becoming Crazytown. Leaders here – from Greg Abbott to Dan Patrick to Ken Paxton and even Ted Cruz – are leaning farther and farther to the right in what appears to be an attempt to out right-wing the right wing. Or at least out right-wing Florida.
Books in school libraries that talk about LGBTQ+ topics are pornographic and should be removed.
Discussions about race or systemic racism is considered critical race theory and is making white school children feel bad about themselves.
Parents and doctors who provide gender-affirming care for their children are being investigated for abuse.
Discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation need to be banned from classrooms.
I would be happy if any of these issues were actual issues. Even happier if we were able to sit down and have a grown-up conversation around these topics. But considering everything that’s happening, I feel better believing Texas politicians have just lost their minds, especially considering how every new announcement sounds nuttier than the rest.
However, having lived here my entire life, I know better. They’re not crazy. They’re up for re-election.
Unfortunately, that means this year that LGBTQ+ youth are taking the brunt of policies being pushed as our leaders look to stay in office. Whether that’s pulling books that talk about queer issues from school libraries, limiting what discussions they can have with their teachers and without fear of being outed to their parents, or just being able to figure out who they are and receive proper medical treatment, queer kids are taking a metaphorical beating.
Not that this is anything new. Every election cycle, politicians on the right look for a wedge issue to terrify old, white, middle-class voters into voting. And every cycle, a marginalized segment of the community is run through the wringer. And that segment seems to rotate cycle to cycle.
I can remember Republican politicians vilifying the LGBTQ+ community over same-sex marriage. Another cycle attacked immigrants coming to take your jobs. This time, however, they seem to have rolled everyone into the mix. Targeting one group this year doesn’t seem to be enough. Black. Immigrant. Queer. Texas politicians are happy to ride on anyone’s back to maintain power and avoid leaving office.
I wish I did believe that Texas’ leaders are crazy, but I know better. We all know better. Otherwise they would be reading the hundreds of library books they want to pull off school shelves so they can make informed decisions about what is appropriate and what is not. They’d have themselves schooled on critical race theory to understand what that entails and how what’s being taught in schools has nothing to do with the topic and everything to do with this country’s history. They would sit down and try to work out an immigration plan with federal leaders that makes sense instead of putting them on busses and sending them to DC.
Instead, they choose to deliberately use marginalized groups as political cannon fodder and props in whatever political stunts can garner attention and show voters how right wing they are. Or that they’re more right wing than politicians in other states. Because that’s what will keep them in office, and that is all that matters.
At least until one of them runs for the presidency, and Texans get to see just how nutty things can get.
Welcome to Crazytown!