Analysis: Abbott’s State of the State revealed just how out of touch he really is—and Texas Democrats were not much better
Texas Governor Greg Abbott de;inverted his State of the State address on Monday evening from a small business in Central Texas. He used the thirty odd minute speech to lay out priorities and emergency items that he demanded were priorities for this legislative session. He used his time to promote special interest groups like law enforcement unions, and he catered to the minority crowd about as good as a Republican can do. But what he failed to do was address how rural Texas is going to get back on its feet after a 2020 that was as hard on them as the Great Depression.
Abbott towed the GOP party line talking about things like strong and tougher anti-abortion laws. He made sure that law enforcement knew the he gives a damn. He made it clear that Texans who are accused of crimes ought to be denied their access to bail and kept in jails until they are dealt with. He also made it clear that he wanted broadband internet and telehealth services to reach places like Freer, Texas. But beyond that he failed to explain how he was going to reach out to these voters and vulnerable citizens and help them get back on their feet.
Abbott in fact avoided it like the plagued and acted as if the only people that existed in his state were people from large urban areas. The reason isn’t clear why because rural Texans are the ones that keep putting his party in the driver’s seat without getting much in return from them. Monday was nothing more than a show that leaves rural Texans holding out hope while fending for themselves.
What Monday’s address did was fall short of being meaningful and addressing what the state was going to do in terms of helping get economic recovery to rural voters. It was an exercise of Abbott and strategist Dave Carney at their worst while focusing on a Presidential run in the coming years despite what is being spewed from the lectern.
Abbott even addressed border security Monday night. He wanted to make sure that Republicans far and wide heard just how Republican he was and is. He failed to address getting money, services and resources to the rural voter. Abbott failed to explain how and where the money was going to come from to fund educational programs and unfunded mandates. The truth of it is that rural Texans are among the most vital to the Texas economy but the least important to their state leadership.
What has happened is a failure to react to the needs of people by both Democrats and Republicans. The truth is that these Texans could care less about religious freedoms or building a tougher stance on abortion. Reality is that they care about how their kids are going to get educated and how they are going to keep a roof over their heads.
Investment dollars are flooding into the state from places like California. but reality is that they are not coming to places like Freer and Hebronville. They are going to places like Spring, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. As those dollars migrate to those places the younger generations leave places like Freer and San Diego. When they do, they often leave for good.
But it isn’t just a rural Texas problem. No, far from it. A report released on Monday morning, well ahead of the Governor’s address showed that the Corpus Christi metropolitan area only gained 650 jobs between November and December. The trade and transportation industries accounted for much of the modest employment growth during the holiday season. Compounding that is the loss of about 1,400 residents from the regional labor force. Unemployment rates for the Corpus Christi area hovered at 9 percent, still about double the level at the beginning of the year.
Webb County, home of Laredo had an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent over the period. The stunning marker is that statistics aren’t readily kept for most of rural Texas where unemployment is much, much higher than state policy wonks and politicians want to admit. They only focus on major metropolitan areas and Texans out in the rural areas of the state are nothing more than dust beneath their fake looking boots.
While Abbott and his political worriers postured for bigger and better things, Texas Democrats came together to sing a hymn and show us some fake anger. They did little to rally the rural troops and catered to ethnic minorities in the bigger cities themselves. Just like Abbott and the GOP they showed blatant disregard for anybody outside of the urban centers. The fact remains that Monday night was a failure of epic proportions by both parties and their jerk off wonks.
The problem is that rural Texans have failed to stand up and “kick against the pricks,” so to speak and let Austin know that they mean business. Perhaps the biggest losers in all of this was we the people. The biggest winners were “those people in the big cities.” But for Abbott and his Republicans, and the Democrats and their legions of rakishly angry ethnic minorities, this was nothing more than a power play at urban areas that left the rest of Texas holding the bag.
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