North Texas Daily

New Texas laws present state’s hunger for power

New Texas laws present state’s hunger for power

New Texas laws present state’s hunger for power
September 11
12:00 2021

On Sept. 1, in a moment clearly lacking self-awareness, 666 new Texas laws went into effect. Ranging from hard-buttoned topics such as education to healthcare, this new batch of legislation continues to enforce the on-brand shrewdness and shallow values of the Republican party. The usual suspects of gun rights, women’s reproductive rights and mask/vaccine mandates illustrate a party, once said to be the champion of liberty and small government, once again passing legislation that intrudes on freedom and common sense.

Among the plethora of laws being put into effect, HB 1927 permits most citizens above the age of 21 to carry handguns in public without the need for training or permits. Though it would be wishful thinking to think the state would pass legislation favoring any means of gun control, it’s this laissez-faire attitude that makes one want there to be more nuance to a subject that has neglectfully contributed to the loss of life.

Speaking of neglect, it is more than well known that Gov. Greg Abbott has something of a religious objection when it comes to mask mandates. If it is the will of the people that he and his party are championing, then he wouldn’t be upset over the people returning the sentiment in kind. Paris Independent School District has baked in the mandatory wearing of masks as part of its school dress code. Finding this loophole is ironically a clear example of human ingenuity, finding solutions when the road ahead isn’t so clear. It would actually be funny if the context was not so dire.

SB8, which we have previously written about, bans abortions once cardiac activity (such as a heartbeat) is detected. Furthermore, the aptly dubbed “heartbeat bill” allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and others who assist a woman in obtaining an abortion. The criteria to justify legal action range from financially assisting the woman to merely giving her a ride to the clinic.

Not only does this verge on totalitarianism, but one struggles to see the moral or societal benefits of such needless micromanagement. Jon Michaels, a professor at UCLA Law, views this aspect of SB8 as the Texas government reversing their stance on tort law, or more commonly known as the motion to compensate for wrongful injuries. Though Texas Republicans have been historically vocal about their opposition to such a practice, putting this in the heartbeat bill opens a moral slippery slope that could tempt citizens to bend the legal system to their will.

Take this along with the stance on gun rights and lack of mask mandates and you have the quintessential problem with modern-day conservatism. Although the idea of a small, unintrusive government is enticing to some, these are not laws that empower the individual — they stifle the well-being of the individual. For a party so concerned with the idea of liberty, it’s astonishing that they are oblivious to what people will do to achieve their own idea of freedom. These are unprecedented times, and political squabbles only hamper efforts of seeing this pandemic come to an end.

The Republican party advertises itself as the noble enforcer of limited government, arguing that true freedom is found within the savviness of its people to persevere through hardship. Government mandates and just about anything that even hints at deviating from the constitution is enough for them to cry foul.

The passage of these laws, whether it be its sudden timing or its content, sadly comes as no surprise. It’s hardly disappointing too. Politics is an often slow, meandering enterprise that can frustrate the impulsive and discourage the passionate.

Among this being another reminder of the Republican party’s shortsightedness, it is an indication of the party’s two-faced inconsistency. A misplaced moral compass and flawed interpretation of the word “freedom” is the genetic makeup of the right. To quote one of their favorite leaders, “government is not the solution to the problem. Government is the problem.” In the case of the Texas government, truer words have never been spoken.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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