North Texas Daily

Opinion: Governor candidates less than ideal

Opinion: Governor candidates less than ideal

Opinion: Governor candidates less than ideal
March 03
23:30 2014
Today is primary day in Texas. If you didn’t know that, or just don’t care, you’re not alone. Turnout for the state’s previous gubernatorial primary in 2010 was 11.6 percent.

That November turnout was a little better, edging its way up to 38 percent, a rate that still ranked last among the 50 states and District of Columbia, according to the Texas Civic Health Index, a report commissioned in 2010 to gauge civic participation in Texas.

Clearly, without the juice of a presidential contest most, Texans aren’t going to head out to the polls.

Judging from the performances of the two leading 2014 candidates, this year’s turnout might, justifiably, be even lower.

If you’re a conservative, you really can’t be excited, or even satisfied, about Greg Abbott, can you? The guy who enthusiastically campaigned with former mediocre musician and current idiot Ted Nugent, a man who called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel.”

Abbott has fought multiple lawsuits on behalf of the state against Americans with Disabilities Act claims, despite the fact that he claims that he supports the act and highlights his own disability – he has been in a wheelchair since a tree crushed his spine almost 30 years ago –  as a sign of toughness. He notes that he has “literally, a spine of steel” in campaign speeches.

When Abbott was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court by then governor George W. Bush in 1995, he told the Austin American-Statesman that ADA lawsuits were warranted when businesses or entities “do not understand the requirements of the ADA, or even worse, who do understand the requirements of the ADA and refuse to comply despite attempts at negotiations.”

Nevertheless, as the state’s attorney general, he has continually asserted that the state itself is not subject to the ADA, despite the fact that, according to The Dallas Morning News, Abbott’s state sovereignty argument has been rejected at least nine times by federal courts.

Perhaps worst of all, last week Abbott appealed, and expressed his vehement opposition to, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling striking down Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage.

We can argue about things like tax policy, educational reform and the lack of post-graduate opportunities for students of the state’s universities. We can’t argue about whether any human beings deserve the same rights, benefits and opportunities as any other human beings, that simply isn’t acceptable. That fight is over, and people like Abbott have lost.

If you’re a liberal, Wendy Davis might be even worse. For all the misplaced, misogynist, patriarchal attacks on her personal narrative, it’s her genuinely right wing stances on things like gun control and her backtracking on abortion rights that should make her an anathema to anyone who considers themselves a progressive voter.

Since declaring her run for governor, Davis, who has previously said that she supports tightening gun control regulations, has said that she thinks Texas’ gun laws should be relaxed. She even supports controversial open-carry policies, which would allow gun owners to carry their weapons on their hips, Wild West style.

Last week, the state senator also told The Dallas Morning News that given certain accommodations, she would actually back a 20-week abortion ban, one of the provisions of the law she filibustered last June. For Democrats, Davis filibuster was heroic. It was a galvanizing moment that gave Democrats hope that maybe, just maybe, they could elect someone to statewide office for the first time since 1994. That’s all it was though, a moment.

In the months since, Davis has shown the she is ready and willing to kowtow to the strongest forces in the state, whether she actually agrees with them or not. That isn’t a desirable quality for any leader, much less one who intends to lead a long dormant party out of the wilderness.

In this election – if you feel compelled to vote at all — you have three choices: You can vote for Abbott – who, despite everything, widened his lead to 11 points in the most recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune — the awful candidate who will win; you can vote for Davis, the awful candidate who will lose; or you can show disdain for the process and do something like voting for someone awesome who isn’t a politician – like St. Vincent or Matthew McConaughey – leaving the governor’s race box on your ballot blank or maybe doing something really wild and voting for a third party.

In the end, it won’t matter. Nobody’s going to notice a handful of voters who refuse to be suckered by a rigged game anymore, but at least you won’t feel dirty walking out of the voting booth.

Stephen Young is a journalism senior. He can be reached at StephenYoung2@my.unt.edu.

Feature photo: Greg Abbott, candidate for governor of Texas, speaks in Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. Abbott met with local voters at Jake’s Hamburgers. Photo courtesy of Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT

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