When current Republican presidential candidate and former Texas governor Rick Perry announced he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2014, many Democrats in the state (and around the country for that matter) rejoiced in the news.
I was not one of those people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of Rick Perry – not even close. I think he’s a complete idiot and he was an absolute embarrassment to the state of Texas for many years. But as bad as he was, I knew his replacement was going to be far worse. It was known for quite some time that current Governor Greg Abbott was likely going to be Perry’s successor – and Abbott is a whole different bag of crazy.
It was Abbott who gave legitimacy to asinine conspiracy theorists when he ordered the Texas Guard to monitor the military during a training exercise most commonly known as “Jade Helm” that’s currently taking place across the southwestern United States. It’s still unconscionable for me to sit here and think that the Governor of Texas pandered to people who honestly believe this training exercise was really a plot by the Obama administration to invade Texas, declare martial law and confiscate guns.
And now it seems he’s caved to the Church of Scientology and several radical conspiracy groups when he vetoed a bipartisan mental health bill that would have given doctors the ability to detain mentally ill patients for up to four hours who pose a danger to themselves and others.
The governor’s early June veto of Senate Bill 359 caught many of the measure’s proponents off-guard. The legislation had sailed through the House and Senate with little debate and only a handful of negative votes — and during committee hearings in both chambers, a range of mental health advocates, medical groups and law enforcement officials showed up to testify in its favor.
Well, recent information that’s been discovered shows that an anti-psychiatry group founded by the Church of Scientology, Citizens Commission on Human Rights, was heavily involved in lobbying the Texas governor to veto the bill. The other conspiracy groups that were linked to the opposition of this bipartisan bill were the anti-vaccine group Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education, and a radical libertarian organization, Texans for Accountable Government.
In other words, despite overwhelming support from medical experts, law enforcement officials, mental health advocates and, most importantly, Republicans and Democrats in the Texas legislature – Abbott sided with a cult and several anti-science conspiracy groups.
And to think, Abbott probably has at least 7 1/2 more years left in office considering he’s only a few months into his first term and will almost undoubtedly seek re-election in 2018. That’s just depressing.
My only hope (and I know it’s a long shot) is that somehow the sane Republicans we have in Texas (believe it or not they do exist) will start to speak out against Abbott’s growing absurdity. It’s not just Democrats like myself who should be ashamed of some of the things he’s done so far, Republicans should be as well. The last thing the GOP should want is for the governor of the largest Republican state in the country to be continuously linked to cults, anti-science conspiracy groups and radical anti-government groups.
But that’s exactly the type of reputation Abbott is working on solidifying for himself and, in turn, the Republican party.