The 'radicalized, weaponized' Texas GOP is pushing Republicans all over the US to the extreme right: journalist

The 'radicalized, weaponized' Texas GOP is pushing Republicans all over the US to the extreme right: journalist

Although Texas is still a red state, it is by no means the reddest of the red. Trump carried Texas by about 6% in the 2020 presidential election compared to 43% in Wyoming, 26% in Alabama or 30% in Idaho. And former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is running for governor in the 2022 midterms, came within striking distance of Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas’ 2018 U.S. Senate race, losing by only 2%.

Texas Republicans, however, haven’t responded to Democratic gains in their state by becoming more moderate, but rather, by becoming increasingly extreme. And journalist Wajahat Ali, in an op-ed published by the Daily Beast on January 30, argues that Texas Republicans are having a destructive influence not only in Texas, but all over the United States.

“Everything is bigger in Texas, including a radicalized, weaponized and emboldened GOP’s audacious abuse of power to fuel their culture wars and subvert democracy,” Ali warns. “If you want to see a sneak preview of the GOP’s national project to maintain white, minority rule, then look no further than Texas, the second-most populous state in the nation, that now serves as a trendsetter for Republican state legislatures across the nation.”

Ali continues, “Texas Republicans, led by Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz, are committed to one-upping their colleagues by introducing the most extreme versions of voter suppression, open carry laws, anti-abortion bills, and critical race theory (CRT) bans…. The Lone Star State has become the ‘laboratory’ for GOP politicians and their hard-right agenda, according to Democrat Ben Chou, who is running to be commissioner of Harris County Precinct 4.”

Chou believes that Abbott and Cruz are trying to “one-up” far-right Republicans in other states, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Houston-area Democrat told the Beast, “This is all for a national platform for when they go into the Republican primary.”

Abbott, Cruz and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to Ali, are pandering to the extreme right in a variety of ways — from voter suppression to anti-vaxxer extremism.

“Texas serves as a warning for Democrats across the nation to pay particular attention to state legislature races,” Ali writes. “Currently, both houses in Texas have a Republican majority. As a result, the GOP controls redistricting.”

Nonetheless, Texas is more accurately described as light red rather than deep red at this point. Democrats still struggle in statewide races in Texas, but they perform well in some of Texas’ congressional districts — and major urban centers like Houston, Austin, Dallas and El Paso lean Democrat.

Chou and Jen Ramos, committeewoman for Texas Senate District 21, both stressed to the Beast that Democrats shouldn’t be pessimistic about the Lone Star State.

“A great hope and test for Democrats is the upcoming governor’s race featuring former Rep. Beto O’Rourke,” Ali writes. “Both Ramos and Chou believe O’Rourke has a shot, having mobilized grassroots communities — specifically leaning heavily into health care and rural broadband, and avoiding right-wing bait on divisive culture war issues. Although it seems hopeless for Democrats in Texas, Ramos urged people not to ignore Texas as unwinnable or dismiss it as a radically conservative state. Texas is far from a left-leaning state, she said, but Democrats are still mobilized, especially in large metropolitan areas where there is still hope for systemic change.”

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