North Texas Daily

Politicians’ priorities need to be reassessed

Politicians’ priorities need to be reassessed

Politicians’ priorities need to be reassessed
June 16
12:00 2022

Politicians are not focusing on the problems that are harming their constituents. With back-to-back mass shootings in the past month and almost 50 people dead from gun violence since June 1, it is undeniable that the United States has a problem with firearms. However, for some lawmakers, the real problems with the country are the faults of liberals, transgender people and drag shows.

For certain Republicans, it’s a no-brainer that transgender people are more dangerous than firearms. While it’s true there have been more mass shootings in 2022 than days in the year and over 45,000 people died from gun-related injuries in 2020  — conservatives know well that the issue most pertinent to their constituents is restricting the rights of a small group that is already heavily discriminated against.

It seems the dangers of someone being happy with themselves is much more frightening to a Republican lawmaker than the oppressive fear of being caught in a public massacre.

University of North Texas alum Rep. Bryan Slaton of Texas introduced legislation that would ban minors from drag shows after videos showing children attending a Dallas drag show went viral. Slaton is a self-proclaimed protector of freedom, and his filing in the Texas House of Representatives against minors at drag races is far from the first time he’s pushed legislation in the name of protecting said freedom.

Slaton assisted in writing laws allowing women who seek abortions to receive the death penalty and helped co-author a bill that would remove undocumented immigrants’ ability to pay in-state tuition rates at public universities.

Despite focusing on those benign “problems,” Slaton did not acknowledge the atrocity that occurred in Uvalde, Texas, last month. For him, even the obligatory thoughts and prayers were perhaps too much to deal with. Why acknowledge something that is contradictory to your beliefs, even if it presents a greater problem that needs to be addressed?

In Slaton’s eyes — and of those who share his views — the outrage at drag shows is justified. Why focus on preventing potential murderers from acquiring weapons that can kill dozens when there are “adults entic[ing] kids to put dollar bills [in] the underwear of men dressed as women”?

This claim that has driven Slaton to push his legislation so vehemently is based on a 2019 image of a cisgendered burlesque dancer in Louisiana. It wasn’t a transgender person, it wasn’t in Texas and it wasn’t a drag show. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has even parroted this claim of children putting money in the underwear of drag performers, and yet the entirety of this claim is built on falsehood. It doesn’t matter to them, so long as the message is a means to an end.

The failure doesn’t stop at focusing on transgender people rather than assault rifles. Rising inflation, wealth inequality and poor access to health care are just a few of the many problems that Americans have to struggle with on a daily basis with no help from the politicians that promise to help them. When the leaked Supreme Court opinion cast the shadow of losing federal abortion protections, the Senate passed a motion to provide security for justices while failing to codify abortion rights into law.

How do we as a nation move forward when those chosen to help us ignore our most glaring issues? Redirection and false outrage have always been a common tool for those in power, but rarely has this smoke and mirrors tactic been so grossly tone-deaf. A world where drag shows are the most dangerous thing in the country would be a better world, but it is not the one we live in.

It may even feel reasonable to direct the blame at the voters, but this is far from true. In a country with a disproportionate Electoral College, where gerrymandering is common and attempts at restrictive voter laws are rampant, those who make it to the polls are not the problem. Politicians are too comfortable in their positions, and many don’t feel the need to address what their constituents feel is important.

There are lawmakers who will use any opportunity to push their own agendas and beliefs onto those who don’t share them. Rep. Bryan Slaton and others will always use any opportunity, backed in truth or wrapped in lies, to mold our country into their restrictive vision. It’s necessary to demand politicians to focus on the issues that truly affect the people and not the ones that simply grapple with their exclusive world views.

Featured Illustration by Erika Sevilla

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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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