Day: December 8, 2016

Ideologues promote ideology, not education or public service

 

As a general rule of prudence, it is better to try to avoid a disaster than have to clean up after one.

In theory, that may be what the Texas Association of Business (TAB) thinks it is doing now by drumming up opposition to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s discriminatory bathroom bill. That’s the proposed law to make Patrick the bathroom monitor for 5.2 million school kids and countless other Texans under the hokey guise of “protecting” society.

In reality, there already is a disaster and TAB helped create it by supporting Patrick for lieutenant governor two years ago. Even as a state senator, Patrick was bad news for education, health care and a host of other important state services, but his influence was limited. Now, as the state’s No. 2 officeholder, Patrick is a disaster threatening to spread.

His bill to require the Big Brother of state government to dictate bathroom use is designed to appeal to Patrick’s right-wing political base by humiliating transgender kids. TAB fears such an obvious discriminatory law would cost Texas companies billions of dollars in lost business, as a similar law has done in North Carolina.

Reasonable people don’t want that to happen, but it is interesting to watch the business leaders scramble now after empowering Patrick in the 2014 election. They should have known then that he was first and foremost an ideologue dedicated to self-promotion, not real public service, but they promoted him as a champion of the Texas economy and education.

TAB said Patrick had “tirelessly led efforts to improve public education.” Baloney.

As a senator, Patrick voted to slash $5.4 billion from public schools, and he continues to lead efforts to undermine them with privatization gimmicks, including private school vouchers, which TAB encourages.

Tax cuts, not schools, were Patrick’s and TAB’s top priority during the 2015 session, and TAB was rewarded for endorsing Patrick with a 25 percent reduction in the state franchise tax.

You can argue, of course, that TAB leaders supported Patrick’s 2014 election bid because they were betting on the frontrunner, not because they agreed with all of his policies. To be sure, TAB leaders have opposed earlier discrimination efforts against gays and transgender people and opposed some of Patrick’s anti-immigration proposals, including the lieutenant governor’s effort to repeal in-state college tuition for some immigrant students. All of those measures were viewed as bad for Texas business.

Now, the business group’s leadership is distressed – and justifiably so — over the potential economic losses from Patrick’s bathroom bill. But tax cuts weren’t the only thing the business leaders signed up for when they signed up with Patrick. Patrick is an ideologue, and this is what ideologues do.