Educators have many important reasons for voting against Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton in the upcoming general election. Most have to do with the survival of their profession and their ability to meet the educational needs of the children entrusted to their care.
These would include issues such as inadequate school funding, promotion of private school vouchers, political lies against teachers, meddling in their classrooms and whitewashing their curricula.
But something even more basic is at stake in this year’s election, and that is the survival of our election system itself – and ultimately our country as a democratic republic. Trust in election results is essential in a country where people choose their government leaders in elections, and Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton all have helped Donald Trump erode that trust and put our election system at risk.
Polls indicate that 70 percent of Republicans in this country still believe Trump’s lie that Joe Biden “stole” the 2020 election and is not the legitimate president of the United States. This is after a succession of judges, including the U.S. Supreme Court, found no merit to the claims of Trump and his supporters — and after Republican election administrators in key battleground states also denied the former president’s claims.
Although Trump bears most of the blame for this attack on democracy, he has had many enablers and abettors, including hundreds of prominent Republican elected officials who refuse to announce loudly, clearly and repeatedly in no uncertain terms that the lie is a lie. Among them are Abbott, Patrick and Paxton, the three top state officeholders on the Texas ballot this November. They know Trump is lying but for their own political reasons refuse to denounce him.
Paxton filed a lawsuit to overthrow Biden’s election, proving his allegiance to Trump over democracy and lies over truth. Paxton also has spent most of his time as the state’s top lawyer under criminal indictment for felony fraud. He, of course, is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but no one knows when – or if – he ever will come to trial. Meanwhile, whenever Trump whistles, Paxton jumps.
Patrick, who regularly promotes ideology over democracy, was Trump’s Texas campaign chairman in both 2016 and 2020 and still regularly courts and praises the former president, with whom he shares a large political base. Members of that base believe the lie and are prepared to destroy the election system on Trump’s behalf, as the attack on the U.S. Capitol already has demonstrated.
Abbott also courts members of Trump’s political base and fears them. So, he avoids saying or doing anything that would turn them against him.
Abbott’s, Patrick’s and Paxton’s refusals to directly challenge the “stolen election” lie – half-hearted ambiguous answers to reporters’ questions don’t count — help the lie continue to grow and undermine a governmental system they all swore oaths to uphold. Their refusals are a sign of cowardice and a disrespect for democracy that alone makes them unfit for public office.