Must be nice to have it both ways. Aaron Rodgers gets to shit-talk his team as they pay him millions of dollars to throw a ball around. Padma Lakshmi can pig out on awesome food and not gain a single pound. Geminis exists. You only wish that someone elected to represent all of us would be immune to straddling fences. You would be wrong.
Someone in question: Mattie Parker claims she supports protecting the right to vote, and yet when time came for Fort Worth’s mayor to prove it last week, she chickened out.
More than 150 names from 37 states appear on a letter by the U.S. Conference of Mayors urging the U.S. Senate to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. The two measures can help to neuter all 34 laws recently enacted by Republican-led legislatures in 19 states to make voting more difficult, especially for people of color, who typically lean left or in the “away from crazy af” direction. Conservatives are complicating our most sacred right for one alleged reason: to combat so-called “voter fraud,” which makes sense, considering most illegally cast ballots — of the microscopic few that have been found — are by Republicans. As Grandma says, it takes one (fraud) to know one (another fraud).
“Simply put,” the Republican mayor told the Star-T, “I don’t sign onto every letter put out by the organizations of which I’m a member.”
In other words, “I’m a coward who’s afraid of pissing off the Trumpies,” a small but extremely loud and annoying segment of the GOP that dictates party policy. Say something anti-45, and the Trumpies will burn a cross on your lawn. Parker, clearly, is more afraid of their wrath than she is of publicly supporting policy that’s wanted by everyone, including most Fort Worthians. Hers is an act of cowardice that should be brought to her attention. While you’re at it, you may also want to ask her, “Who’s the legitimate winner of the 2020 U.S. presidential election?” I guarantee you there’s a “but” in her reply. Tells you all you need to know.
To witness the pretzels some Republican politicians will twist themselves into to appease tRump’s base base, take Sweaty Teddy Cruz as your paragon of Rold Gold. Last January, the insurrection was a “terrorist attack” to the Texas senator, but when serial liar Tucker Carlson put young Tedson in line on-air, the Texan swallowed the dry, crusty sliver of shoe leather that serves as his pride and ultimately said he “misspoke.”
Carlson: “Repeat after me, Hauptmann Ted. They were not terrorists. They were patriots.”
Cruz: “Ja, Oberst-Gruppenführer Carlson. They were not terrorists. They were patriots. Take my ugly wife, please.”
It really hurts to say this, because she’s not crazy and is not completely disgusted with herself, but Parker is no better than Ted Cruz. When you either can’t or won’t acknowledge that our democracy is on its deathbed and that making voting easier is the answer — along with preventing Republican apparatchiks from changing votes after the fact — you’ve officially entered MAGAland, where allegiance to one orange racist rapist trumps the Constitution and democracy and where urine is drunk to ward off COVID because of course it is.
The letter was signed by eight Texas mayors, including Arlington’s Jim Ross and Dallas’ Eric Johnson. Parker’s acquiescence to MAGA represents neither a majority of Fort Worthians nor the rest of the country, who agree that democracy is better when more people vote, especially in our anti-democracy. No matter what you think, it’s not a democracy we’re working with here. This shit is warped. The Democratic half of the Senate represents nearly 42 million more people than the Republican half, and yet we’re deadlocked all the time for some reason. California is 68 times more populous than Wyoming, but each state has the same number of senators. It’s absurd, especially because smaller states tend to be much whiter and much more conservative, which gives the Republican half of the Senate a huge advantage. No one talks about this.
The disparity is why voting rights are so important. Limiting them is a sign of desperation. If that’s the only idea you have, then you’re just plum out of ideas. Other than slashing taxes on corporations and the ultra-wealthy or waging inane culture wars, the GOP has been out of ideas for a while now. Poor whites need to know how much they are loathed, absolutely despised, by GOP leaders and their moneyed supporters. Then maybe less evil, less batshit crazy Republicans would be in office. Or maybe not. Not with all these darkies around.
In an open letter, District 6 councilmember Jared Williams called on Fort Worth’s congressional delegation to come together to back the John Lewis act and Freedom to Vote. The bills would offer all eligible voters unrestricted access to the electoral process, he wrote, by setting federal standards for mail-in voting and preventing what he calls “partisan intimidation and harassment” at the ballot box. Now that Texas’ anti-voting Senate Bill 1 is law, expect a lot of flag-waving ass-hats looking over your shoulder as you check boxes at your polling station. The new law could lead to misdemeanor charges against any election official who “knowingly or intentionally” refuses to accept partisan — partisan — poll watchers. Williams is right to label this nonsense accurately: “intimidation and harassment.”
Basically, the same kinds of terrorists who tried to overthrow the government last Jan. 6 are now welcome at your neighborhood polling station. Makes perfect sense in a backward-ass Texan way.
Some people are buying Parker’s wishy-washy bullshit. Chris Nettles isn’t one of them. The District 8 city councilmember wrote his own open letter to the U.S. Senate, begging them to put aside partisan bickering and secure voter protection. Good on him.
I’m not quite sure what’s going on with Mayor Pro Tem Gyna Bivens, though. While she’s signing a separate letter from the National League of Cities in support of voting rights, she told the Star-T she can’t criticize people, i.e., Parker, with “different opinions.” Opinions? On the one side, you have people who believe in democracy and that voting should be as easy as paying your bills online. On the other side is MAGA, who won’t be happy until we’re living in a church-state with Father Donald Trump reigning as emperor infinitum. Saying nothing or being complacent is going to get a lot of people killed. Speak up and speak loud. Chris Nettles knows what’s up. Do you?
Right-Wing Idiots Winning Meme Wars
You know both sides are fighting as hard as they are because of independent voters, right? If it weren’t for them up on their high horses, Republicans would never win another presidency for the rest of eternity. Alas, here we are, grinding it out on the socials meme by meme for the love of voters who like a little of both sides, a little bit country and a little bit rock ’n’ roll, a little vanilla, a little cookie dough, a little fast, a little furious.
No one cares that Texas GOP’s trending meme last Friday makes no sense and is in a way a self-own. All that matters is that it comes close enough to the truth to — bam! — make an independent voter stop and scratch his enormous brain- and ethics-filled head. The meme in question: A queue of people sits beneath “If you can wait in line for hours for [COVID] testing … you can vote in person.”
The implication is that Republicans’ efforts in 19 states to force mostly Black and Hispanic voters to wait in even longer lines to cast ballots — a 2020 UCLA study found that people in Black neighborhoods wait 29% longer to vote than those in mostly white, assumedly conservative areas — are somehow as innocent as swabbing your nose. It’s not. It’s a shameful attempt to disenfranchise voters of color as they inch ever closer toward becoming the majority in our country. It’s a bald-faced attempt to retain white power at any cost. The endgame is twofold: Continue punishing women for expressing autonomy over their own bodies because Jesus said so or something and concentrate wealth in the 1% because didn’t Jesus say, “Blessed are the moneychangers”? Pretty sure he did. At least according to every single Republican politician alive, he did.
The memes and the meme wars, and the writing about them, are distracting Mr. Indie Voter from the truth, not that Republican legislators are making it harder for Blacks and Hispanics to vote, though that’s awful. It’s that even when these people are finally able to cast their ballots, the GOP’s “election integrity” machine will be able to ignore their chosen candidates and hand-select the winners. In Texas and elsewhere, nonpartisan election officials are being replaced with Trump cultists, who want nothing more than to lick his big, fat, ugly boots. In 2020, Trump’s attempt to overturn the will of the people was thwarted by members of his own party who had the courage to tell him and his ridiculous fanboys to fuck off — Grandpa Joe won fair and square. Now, with the brave being replaced by knaves, and with GOP gerrymandering as rampant as it’s ever been, nothing will stop Republicans from sweeping the midterms this year and from the orange stain from overriding the 2024 election results to commence his dictatorship, praise be.
I get it, indie voters. Both sides are bought and paid for. No one’s discounting that. They are. The problem is that the privilege that allows you to have it both ways does not extend to most of us. We are forced to vote one way, the right way, because for many of us, too much is at stake, not just fair representation but fair wages and free health care and autonomous femininity and social justice and action on climate change. Until the Trump cancer is purged from the body politic and the nation at large, I’m afraid that one side or the other must be chosen. Choose wisely.
Does Fort Worth Need Casinos? (Sure. The Answer Is Sure.)
There’s talk again that casinos are what’s needed to generate wealth and prosperity across Tarrant County. Having been to WinStar in Southern Oklahoma and had an em-effin blast a couple years ago, I can say that more entertainment options are always a plus, always. And that’s all we’re talking about here: entertainment. No one’s saying casinos are going to solve all our societal problems or keep the local economy humming in perpetuity. We’re just talking about places to go for catching some extravaganzas, eating some cheffy food, and maybe losing a few bucks. Or winning, though I don’t know how that works or what that means.
In a recent op-ed in which every other word is “but,” the Star-T says it’s a no to casinos. “We’re far from convinced that casinos would make the state better,” the editorial board writes without attempting to answer if casinos would actively hurt Texas. The answer: Who cares. Casinos are just another entertainment option, and without wanting to needlessly offend WinStar and Choctaw, the two big dawgs in this part of the world for a long time, I’ll just say that a high tide lifts all boats. And here’s another old, bad cliché that’s apropos: Become the person you’d like to attract. In this sense, Tarrant County needs to be nerdy and techy for all them Amazon/Fakebook/Microsoft dollars. And — hahaha — we know that’s not gonna happen. For a city that’s less Bill Gates, more Gates of Hell’s Half-Acre, all I can say is, “Welcome to Fort Mos Eisley!”
This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not necessarily the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. Submissions will be edited for factuality and clarity.