Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Fox News last week that we need a “culture change” and to “turn to God” to address racism in this country. It appears his evangelism needs to start within his own political party after a dozen Republican County Party Chairs recently shared racist Facebook posts and conspiracy theories related to the death of George Floyd.
After the news surfaced some GOP leaders including the state GOP Chair James Dickey and Gov. Greg Abbott called for the resignation of several of the offending chairs. Abbott said, “it’s irresponsible for anyone to promote some conspiracy theories of what is otherwise a brutal act of police violence.” Chairman Dickey released a statement on the party’s website that read in part:
“Their actions do not reflect the Republican Party of Texas’ history, values, members, or principles. We connect with people through and because of our values, and our leaders must exemplify them.”
Sadly, it’s not just happening at the grassroots level. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who has nearly 1 million Facebook followers, has been actively sharing some of the same conspiracy theories falsely claiming that George Soros is funding Antifa and rioters. Other party officials have claimed that the death was staged to hurt Trump with Black voters.
Patrick himself has been a purveyor racially incentive rhetoric referring to undocumented immigrants as “invaders” and claiming they were the state’s “number 1 problem” and that they’re “bringing Third World diseases with them.” He also boycotted a Muslim cleric who led a prayer from the Senate floor when he was a part of that body.
These actions, when party leaders and representatives are signaling to their base, are a better reflection of their true beliefs and values than a carefully crafted response to the media when they are being called out.
Charles Blain is a Black conservative who runs the Urban Reform Institute which is “dedicated to promoting free-market solutions to urban issues.” He tweeted, “the fact that in one day 4 Texas GOP chairs have come under condemnation for racist remarks — including MY county — should make it CLEAR AS DAY that we have a problem in this party and y’all need to talk to more black people.”
However, if you listen to some prominent conservative voices, including President Trump, they’ll gladly remind you that it was Lincoln that freed the slaves and the KKK was full of Democrats across the South. But, if you look at election results as recent as 2016, you can see 98 percent of Black women and 81 percent of Black men voted for Hillary Clinton. It’s almost like Black people want to know, “what have you done for us lately?”
Blain is on to something, but listening is hard — especially when leadership is tone-deaf. The real test will be what reforms and actions are taken when the legislature convenes in 2021. City councils across the state and nation are actively discussing reforms many of which are part of Campaign Zero. The goal is to eliminate civilian deaths at the hands of law enforcement through limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and reallocating police budgets to help scale more appropriate social services in their place.
So when Dan Patrick says, “we should continue to unequivocally condemn racism where we see it in our party and in their party,” let’s hope he brings the same fire and brimstone to ending systemic racism that he does when he feels his own religious liberty is being threatened.
Photo: Loren Elliott/Getty Images
Joe Deshotel is originally from Beaumont, Texas, but a combination of live music, politics, and natural beauty brought him to Austin in 2010. He has over a decade of experience in public policy that covers federal, state, and local government and has worked on a number of successful election campaigns. He continues to consult on Democratic campaigns and serves as the Chair of Austin’s Community Development Commission which advocates for affordable housing and solutions for homelessness.