I love a used bookstore. I think it stems from my childhood when my mother would take my brother and me to the one used book emporium in the small town I grew up in and we would explore the stacks and shelves of books on a quest for hidden treasures as exotic and disparate as a Back to the Future novelization or a collection of Hardy Boys mysteries.
I’ve always been enamored with the things you can find in a used book store. Photos used as bookmarks, long forgotten. Notes in margins. Inscriptions to loved ones and strangers.
I vividly remember, while living in Portland, thumbing through a random book I pulled off a shelf while waiting for a friend to finish perusing the aisle we were in. I stumbled upon a highlighted passage that I’ve never been able to forget, and one that I think very aptly encapsulates what it’s like to be a Texan grappling with our state government.
“If I gave you my life, you would drop it. Wouldn’t you?”
I’ve been thinking of that quote since Governor Greg Abbott tweeted that everything that needed to be done to shore up our grid had been done this legislative session. That tweet came just a few days before ERCOT again asked customers to reduce energy consumption, triggering harrowing memories of the winter storm that left more than 700 Texans dead.
I’ve been thinking about that quote in the context of the $250 million advance Abbott has pledged for a new border wall, which he has also pledged to crowdfund for, which our eagle eyed opinion editor Jessica Montoya Coggins expertly pointed out led to the arrest of Steve Bannon at one point.
How could we so easily find a quarter of a billion dollars for a border wall when there are still Texans reeling from massive property damage and surging utility rates? Why is this what the leader of our state is choosing to focus on?
And I thought of that quote again yesterday, when just days after a mass shooting on Austin’s Sixth Street Abbott decided to sign into law a bill that will allow any Texan that owns a handgun to carry it anywhere they want without training or a permit.
Greg Abbott has been elected statewide seven times since 1996. Two of those elections were for Texas Supreme Court, three were for attorney general, and the last two were for governor. Time and time again, Texas voters have placed their trust in Greg Abbott. They gave him their lives.
Time and time again, Greg Abbott has dropped them.
This is nothing new. Greg Abbott has a long track record for choosing partisan politics and big-money special interests over the needs and lives of average Texans.
He did it time and time again as Texas Attorney General during the first five years of the Obama Administration, routinely filing lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act and other major policies that would have benefited everyday Texans, attempting to stall progress at any cost for no higher purpose than anointing himself the heir apparent to Rick Perry.
If those attempts to deny affordable health care to Texans that badly needed it weren’t enough, as governor he’s also fought diligently against any attempts to expand Medicaid in the state, routinely turning down millions of dollars in federal investment and leaving poor and working Texans in the cold without access to health care.
Even worse, he’s perpetuated Trump’s big lie, and at times used the same kind of incendiary language that has led to violence against communities of color. The most notable example of this came when Abbott sent out a fundraising appeal one day before the El Paso shooting that used extremist, anti-immigrant language.
One day after that letter went out in the mail, a shooter who had written a racist manifesto unleashed hell on a Walmart parking lot in El Paso, having declared their intent to stop the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
That kind of rhetoric helped lead to 23 people getting killed and many more injured, and it’s the same rhetoric that Abbott, who is working diligently to shore up his right flank before a 2022 Republican primary that will see him square off with libertarian-leaning Trumper and former State Senator Don Huffines but may also feature Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and Texas GOP chairman and Florida Man Allen West, who announced that he’s resigning from that post to consider a run for governor.
It’s a recipe, frankly, for some batshit crazy games of political distraction, and that’s all Abbott’s border wall truly is. He wants you to forget that his appointees can’t get a handle on our grid, so he’s throwing your taxpayer money at a border wall. He wants you to forget the ways he’s failed you, year after year.
No one in Texas politics has dropped the ball more in recent years and with more devastating consequences than Greg Abbott. With summer just starting, and our grid still crumbling, 2022 could be the year Texans finally lose patience.
Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images