We don’t need to live in Texas to be smacked around by what’s going on in Texas. So we do need to give a darn (not the term Texans might use), stand up for our freedoms, and, most of all, not quit at whatever we each decide to do about it. Fortunately, we can find plenty of inspiration for all in Texas history.
Defying the Odds
One of the first female governors in the United States was Miriam Amanda Wallace “Ma” Ferguson. She battled sexism, corruption, and budget cuts that she offset with sheer determination and endurance. Of note, it was she who managed to find just the right unemployed Texas Rangers to go after and put an end to the reign of notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde — a task most thought impossible and many had failed trying.
She showed that nothing is impossible despite the odds, even in a Texas aligned against her.
Stopping the Backslides
We don’t know how you would have missed the news, but here goes. Texas lawmakers have reined in as their own two of our nation’s most hot-button issues — who has the right to vote and who decides the limits of a woman’s rights over her own body. The latter has been given a pass by the U.S. Supreme Court. Few are optimistic a challenge to the Texas voting laws will be any more successful.
That’s all the more reason to pay attention. We need to focus on stopping these backslides in other states, while working with allies in Texas to prevent further dismantling of fundamental freedoms and rights. We already see like-minds in Florida working to replicate what Texas is doing.
Other issues looming — immigration, gun control, health care, and education — also belong to all of us. The job of negotiating and not hijacking states’ rights when acting on issues that impact the lives of all of us is a tough one. But it’s not one we can sit out. Prevailing attitudes vary, and it’s clear that the time has come to work things out.
The demographics of Texas are not overwhelmingly formidable, and a unified focus can offset the messing around by so many in the Texas legislature — even as they get busy redrawing lines for their next elections.
In Texas, they like telling tall tales and being the best. They don’t shy from confronting any and all.. The state itself brays, “don’t mess with Texas.”
Well, golly, who’s doing the messing now? And who are they messing with? Insiders are messing up their own fellow Texans — and the rest of the country to boot. Even if Texas is also known as “a whole other country…” in its old tourism ads, it is still a card-carrying member of these United States. That carries a certain responsibility to conduct oneself in such a way that the interests of the whole republic are not summarily snubbed.
So, if someone’s messing with Texas, no matter where we stand on the political, geographic, or economic spectrum, we all have a stake in the outcome.
“…a unified focus can offset the messing around by so many in the Texas legislature — even as they get busy redrawing lines for their next elections.”
Preserving the Beauty
Texans’ bond with the slogan “Don’t Mess With Texas” reflects a strength and attitude many enjoy cultivating. Truth be told, a quick aside throws a little cold water on that: it was coined by the Texas Department of Transportation for an anti-littering campaign launched on New Year’s Day, 1986! Obviously, it played on the swagger so many get a kick out of.
Yet beneath the slogan is a truth about Texas also worth cultivating. At the time, Jeff Austin, a commissioner on the Texas Transportation Commission, explained, “…don’t litter in Texas; don’t mess up Texas. We want to keep it a beautiful state. Texas is our home.”
We want to keep our home beautiful, too. Quit messing with us, Texas.
©2021 Women’s Campaign Fund
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