Opinion | Texas Has Broken My Heart

“Should we be getting out of here?” inquired Houston. My husband, a native Virginian, has been asking himself this question more and more often as he reads the news at our breakfast table.

He’s not the only one. Numerous people I know, lifetime Texans, including but not limited to staunch Democrats, are pondering this very same question right now. They wake up every morning in a land they can no longer recognise.

There has never been a greater challenge to the inherent optimism of Texans — part of what we are proud of and what has made us remarkable (or what we thought we were) — than it is today.

The 87th session of the Texas Legislature was the conclusion of the events that got us to this point in time. Citizens will be able to sue doctors who perform abortions and the facilities where they do so, making them practically illegal in this country. Without a permission, most adults can carry firearms.

Teachers’ ability to address current and historical events will be severely curtailed. It was only because the Democrats took a powder at the last minute that the law failed to pass. Having done so once again, the sequel’s ending is still a mystery.)

What was not on the legislative agenda in Texas this year? What about saving our deteriorating infrastructure—the electricity grid that collapsed catastrophically during the February winter storms that left at least 151 people dead—as well as urgent upgrades in health care and education?

Those issues are not as important to our state politicians as preventing transgender students from participating in school sports.

Debate of the Opinions

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Compromise has always been a must for those who choose to call this place home. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to work around most of this because of my wealth and connections. As a result of my income and the location of our son’s public school, I’ve been able to purchase a home and secure health insurance for myself and my family. I bought a generator between Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and this year’s snowpocalypse in order to alleviate my anxiety about climate change.

I grew up in Austin, the capital of the state of Texas, and like many other Texans, I had low expectations of the city. It’s a part of Texas mythology to be self-reliant, even if most Texans today live in vast, sophisticated cities where they don’t have to worry about Comanches, coyotes, or tornadoes for their survival.

Because there weren’t that many disadvantages to living in Texas, I was content to put up with them. For a long time, it was possible to live in one of the state’s major cities without being constantly reminded of the misconceptions that have dogged this region for so long. Particularly in Houston, I’m reminded of the best of Texas because of the acceptance of differences of all kinds – political, sexual, economic, social, and so on. I and many others like and unlike me have been able to establish the kind of life we couldn’t have had anywhere else because of the openness that has always been at the heart of our prized exceptionalism.

If that meant snatching a modest house in a neighbourhood that was only somewhat safer than the one they had left behind in their native country, then so be it. It’s possible that a life like this involved working in the oil industry and living in a 13,000-square-foot mansion that was a knockoff of the Dubai embassy.

Maybe it was the opportunity to attempt anything new, whether it was art, law, or anything else, without the establishment judging you. Even if the dream was a silly one, it was anchored in a genuine sense of hope that I’ve never seen or experienced in any other place.

Even in the prior governors I didn’t like: Rick Perry, who was a strong proponent of economic development, and George W. Bush, who at least sought to enhance the education of Texas kids and didn’t consider the Texas-Mexico border as a combat zone.

However, as I survey the state of leadership today, I’m struck by how cynical many people are. Like Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton, Senator Ted Cruz could also be counted among those who have little or no faith in themselves. As though they are imagining themselves in a higher position.

To the Texan in me, their preference for gloom over light is what jars me the most. Every day, I wake up in the United States’ fourth-largest city, a location where there are seemingly limitless opportunities for everyone. They see a state overrun by violent immigrants, faithless feminists, and leftists who seek to blame the white man for every ill deed. As soon as one of them says, “This carnage must end,” I’ll believe it.

Forget the Alamo, the book that defied popular belief by questioning some of the myths surrounding the battle, was either an expected sop to his base or an unwillingness by Lieutenant Governor Patrick to recognise that times have changed and our understanding of history has changed, too.

This is again another evidence of Governor Abbott’s preference for sealing off the future rather than opening it up in a way that benefits everyone. My Texas public school taught me to be open to change in all its forms. Maybe that’s the reason they’re trying to get their hands on the curriculum.

People in Texas don’t enjoy being told what to do, and that’s something I’ve learned about the state. Because no one can agree on exactly what “freedom” means, we opt for a state of sometimes-bordering-on-chaos. Clearly, we have a leadership that is intent on denying us the opportunity to vote, to learn, and to make decisions for ourselves, our families, and our communities.