Austin at Large: Forget the Alamo
It’s strike three for Texas in the white-power rebellion game. Time to call folks out.
Last week, I was writing just as the U.S. Capitol was breached; this week, the House has just impeached. Yesterday, President Apesh*t showed up in Texas for his last time in office, visiting neither The Alamo nor the town of Alamo (which is several miles from his glorious yet already failing border wall), but you know they used "Alamo" as bait to make him focus. He said, predictably, that everything was great and nothing was his fault and the other side is much worse and you know the rest. Then he went back home to watch more television.
In Austin, some of MAGA's biggest Texas stars posed for the cameras at the Capitol, during the virtualized, truncated, subdued, and frankly depressed first-day rituals of the 87th Texas Legislature. Guys with guns showed up, both the ones we pay – in the large numbers you'd expect and might want at the moment – and the ones who do it for free, at their normal strength of a couple of dozen. These role-playing "militias" and "freedom fighters," with Texas GOP Chair Allen West serving major Raid-on-Entebbe realness, scared people who haven't seen their prior routine displays before. That's also understandable at this moment, but we have yet to see the rebel army that fear and rumor (and its own puffery and posturing) have led us to believe could arise to topple the pink dome at any time.
Right in the Wrong Groove
While MAGA Nation's coming-out party on 1/6/21 as a violent extremist criminal force has transfixed Americans everywhere, Texans – because, y'know, The Alamo – feel like freedom-fighting is in the state's DNA, which makes it just a bit too easy for our white men in power, and a handful of their BIPOC and female friends, to get right into the wrong groove and imagine themselves heroes rather than assholes. Texas has done this twice before. There's the Revolution itself, a fight to preserve slavery after even Mexico's own dictatorship outran its liberty-loving northern neighbors, and the Civil War, so anticlimactic for Texas that it's embarrassing we kicked a genuine hero, Sam Houston, out of office so the state could secede. At least we gifted the nation with Juneteenth as recompense.
And now it's strike three, so let's call some bubbas out. There's no excuse, guys. We all know what happened and what you did and your mythmaking and distracting noises are just wasting our time. There will be consequences.
No Letting This One Slide
Having said that, it's fair to allow for a range of consequences, because not all of our Texas traitors are equally dangerous. Plenty of run-of-the-mill Republicans went along with the boogaloo business more than anyone should have as it was taking shape. But they didn't really act to further it, and some like rookie Rep. Pat Fallon fought back against it – literally, in the U.S. Capitol – when we went Code Red. I'd also put Reps. Dan Crenshaw and Chip Roy in this set.
They can and should say "Let's move past this" as a statement of their future intentions; no more "just asking questions" about election integrity and other BS. To direct us to move past 1/6/21 is not their place, and giving them credence to do so is just lazy, reflexive centering of white GOP ruling-class men in the discourse. (None of these people is "working class," y'all can shut up about that.) Our multicultural coalition of solidarity against sedition – which has grown quite a bit in the last week! – is the majority and is in charge now, in D.C. if not quite yet in Texas, and they need to learn how to listen and take the L.
Once we cross this Crenshaw Line, we run into congressmen like Kevin Brady and Roger Williams and Pete Sessions (and, among their pep squad, state reps like Kyle Biedermann and Briscoe Cain). They gleefully crossed the Rubicon with MAGA Nation, tried to throw out legal ballots cast for Joe Biden while squawking about Stopping the Steal, but as of yet are not known to have committed real crimes. The recreational seditionists, if you will, though their reckoning is far from over. Should they be expelled from Congress and the Lege? Hell, yes! If we have to formally tag them with Section 3 of the 14th Amendment – which says traitors (referring at first to Confederate leaders) cannot serve in Congress – let's do so. (The Texas Constitution, which proscribes treason against the state, is less clear-cut, though it specifically lifts the exemption from arrest enjoyed by members during session, in cases of treason.) Past that, it's mostly up to the Texas GOP to start policing its moral and ethical boundaries and resist the addictive appeal of sedition and conspiracy. We can make that job easier with some censures and expulsions.
There are people beyond this Brady Line, though, such as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. These people, alongside Donald Trump, actually incited insurrection in real time and in plain view, and may be on the hook for more criminality leading up to the attempted coup, and at least five deaths, of 1/6/21. (In Paxton's case, it's just another token on his corruption charm bracelet.) The Legislature has the power to impeach Paxton, and Congress to expel Cruz and Gohmert, as a first step in their one-on-one encounters with Lady Justice. Texans shouldn't need to force our leaders to acknowledge and allow the process of true accountability to begin.