Gov. Greg Abbott wants the Legislature to take steps to “ensure our schools teach students the civics knowledge they need to be engaged productive citizens.” It is important, he says, that students “be educated in how to participate in our democracy.”
There is nothing wrong with a good civics education, provided it is not used as cover for an ideological immersion. But the most important participation in a democracy is voting, and this is where the examples and actions of elected leaders are more important than a classroom.
If Abbott really is concerned about voting and the democratic process, he would actively encourage every eligible voter to cast a ballot AND publicly honor the election results. Instead, he seems quite comfortable with Texas’ history of voter intimidation, and his silence following the recent election was a lousy example for school kids.
The best example for anybody, including children, after the election would have been for Abbott to have spoken up publicly and forcefully to refute the lies that Donald Trump and his allies were spreading about the election having been “stolen” from the former president, lies that ultimately contributed to the Jan. 6 riot at the national Capitol.
But Abbott didn’t make any public attempt to honor democracy by setting the record straight. The democratic example that the governor should have set then for the school children he now wants to impress was missing. Ken Paxton and Ted Cruz behaved badly. But Abbott was complicit in his silence, as his political allies attacked the very essence of the democratic process.
Now, the governor is undermining faith in democracy even further by declaring “election integrity” an “emergency” for the Legislature to address, even though election fraud is a very minor problem.
Texas instead has a sad history of voter intimidation, including under this governor, and Abbott now is seeking more laws to intimidate people who are inclined to vote the “wrong” way. That is not election integrity, and it is not democracy.
And guess who is eager to help the governor? None other than Rep. Briscoe Cain, another democracy denier who went to Pennsylvania after the election to help Trump’s fraudulent cause, and now has been appointed chair of the House Elections Committee by Dade Phelan, the new speaker.
In truth, the governor and many of his political allies are woefully in need of their own civics education. Maybe some of our young people can teach them. No one else has been able to.