If it seems like Texas has been in the news quite a bit lately, that’s probably because it has. Of all the states in the U.S. right now, it’s almost certainly in the top 10 for creating confused, angry, bemused, and rampantly over-politicized facial expressions.
Texas has been of more recent interest, however, with a number of headline-grabbing antics at the governmental level, whether they’ve been less than functional or necessary political moves.
These extreme measures have one thing in common: They all have a far-right Tea Party bent to them, and they reveal the degree of political extremism that has been appearing in memorable bursts for some time now. At the nexus of this wave of political extremism is the state governor, Greg Abbott.
It’s not necessarily that polarization is the real problem. It’s more likely that political dysfunction and a degree of discontent and frustration are pushing groups and individuals. Let’s look at two of the bigger examples of this seen most recently in Texas. The examples are only too clear on how conservative some members are, and how uncomfortable they are with the current administration.
The beginning of May saw a deployment of the Texas State Guard on commands from Gov. Abbott to observe the training operations of a group of Navy SEAL and Green Beret officers. The reason? He was concerned that Obama was sneakily sending in forces for a takeover of Texas.
“During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights, and civil liberties will not be infringed,” wrote Abbott in a letter to the state guard, according to TeaParty.org. “I am directing the Texas State Guard to monitor Operation Jade Helm 15.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest attempted to handle the concerns of an imminent invasion and expressed a degree of confusion regarding Abbott’s thought process.
“In no way will the constitutional rights or civil liberties of any American citizen be infringed upon while this exercise is being conducted,” said Earnest. “I have no idea what he’s thinking. I might have an idea about what he’s thinking, but I’m not going to.”
Per NPR, former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst attempted a slightly more understandable explanation of the governor’s actions, saying: “Unfortunately, some Texans have projected their legitimate concerns about the competence and trustworthiness of President Barack Obama on these noble warriors. This must stop.”
This hasn’t been the only aggressive political move seen in Texas so far this month. With the Supreme Court close to ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, the state is preparing for worse-case scenario, a decision that changes the definition of marriage to allow for couples of the same gender to marry. A ruling is expected next month, but many states are getting prematurely upset about possibility that same-sex marriage will be legal and Texas is launching a preemptive strike. Many states, like Texas, frame their opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage on the federal level as an issue of state sovereignty. But the opposition comes even despite a broad-based change in national opinion on the matter. Since 1996, the trend has been in favor of same-sex marriage and equal rights, according to Gallup’s historical poll.
Texas is preparing to block the results of a pro-marriage equality ruling, should it eventually come. “Texas Constitution defines marriage as consisting ‘only of the union of one man and one woman’ and was approved by more than three-quarters of Texas voters. I am committed to ensuring that the Texas Constitution is upheld and that the rule of law is maintained in the state of Texas,” said Abbott in a statement, according to CNN.
This was after the Texas Supreme Court blocked same-sex couples from receiving valid marriage licenses, and the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, issued a statement saying that the license given to the first same-sex couple to be married in Texas — Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant — was void.