I shrugged off the first one. I also ignored the second and the third. And the fourth and the fifth. And even the 10th and 11th. It wasn’t until I finally saw one Greg Abbott yard sign in an entire neighborhood filled with “Beto”s that I felt what could be charitably described as optimism. Maybe, I thought, just maybe, the darkness upon our otherwise fair republic would be swept clean by the champion prince of El Paso. Maybe (I was getting crazy now), just maybe all the years of “Mmmyeah, we need more gun violence to stop all the gun violence” and “Mmmyeah, we’ll fix the grid, uh, tomorrow” and all the weeks of “Mmmyeah, you ladies are going to jail for undergoing life-saving health care or providing it to women” would be eradicated by our lord and savior, Beto O’Rourke. Maybe, just maybe …
Without trying to sound more racist than I, the father of a Black boy, probably am (unconsciously), I wasn’t driving through a neighborhood littered with Democrats smearing goat’s blood all over their bellies and gyrating by a raging fire while listening to the Indigo Girls and voting by mail. I was in the middle of Whitey Central, Arlington Heights, on the side closest to the highway. On the other side, I did not see any yard support for the gubernatorial challenger, as expected, but I also didn’t see any in favor of the incumbent. And I had driven right past Rivercrest Country Club, which is like the Whitey House of Fort Worth. I took all this as a good … sign. (I’ll show myself out.)
My joy since then has been prejudicially zapped by the latest polling data that puts Abbott ahead by nearly 10 percentage points. The likely conclusion is that all the roadblocks erected by conservative lawmakers to suppress the power of the people are working. There’s still Election Day, and in honor of those few sacred hours on Tue., Nov. 8, and what we have left of early voting, I will argue that a vote for Beto is a vote for a better future for all Texans and that casting a ballot for Abbott will only lead to mothers and doctors behind bars, more school shootings (we’re already No. 1 in the nation in that category), and a theocracy that will force Christianity on all of us. When I was a kid, thickly forearmed nuns pressed our pimply faces into the musty pages of the Bible. I’m not a kid anymore. I’ll take a nun down! *unsheathes twin katanas*
Along with our love affair with the Dallas Cowboys and firearms, being a Texan can be embarrassing in many other ways. Based on the pollsters’ info, many of us have already forgotten about abortion and Uvalde. Most of us are apparently back to worrying about immigration and “secure borders.” As I am every election season, I am once again aghast at how fucking stupid we are. Oh, I know how we got here: Fox “News,” Facebook, Twitter, the Star-T’s editorial page, and serial liar Tucker Carlson, whose Fox show, wrote a U.S. district judge in September 2020, quoting Fox’s lawyers during a slander case against Carlson, “should then inform a viewer that [Carlson] is not ‘stating actual facts’ about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary.’ ” Worse, if anything’s worse than that racist twat, Texas voters clearly consider political ads to be journalism. How dumb do you have to be? This is not a rhetorical question. I’m seriously asking, Where’s the floor? The average political ad, from the left and the right (but mostly the right), is a verifiable lie. It’s like one of the first things you learn in grade-school social studies: Don’t trust political ads. I wake up at least five times a night picturing some undecided schlub — or “unencumbered,” because he apparently doesn’t care about anyone but himself — strutting to the polls, doopty do, and being stopped by a political ad on his phone which sways his decision. You know this has happened a bunch over the years, and, I dunno, maybe handing over the keys of our democracy every two years to a bunch of nitwits too lazy to learn about issues rather than be scared by them via 30-second sound bites might not be the best way to go about electing our political leaders.
Beto has come this far because of his clear, simple messaging: Abbott has had eight years to make life better for all Texans, not just his voters, and all he’s done is make his rich, white, undoubtedly Christian friends and family even richer. And perhaps whiter. It’s science: The richer you are, the whiter you become or, as in the case with many of our Hispanic, Asian, and Black friends, the more white-adjacent you get. There once was a guy back in the early aughts (name doesn’t matter) who emailed his celebrity crush through her website, and as wormy, sad, and #lowenergy as he was, he’s not nearly as pathetic as people from non-white races attempting to buy into or mimic white privilege. (Still here, Kate.)
“I vote Republican,” recently tweeted user @brandondarby. “As a Texan, I can’t help but notice that the Republicans in power want us to reelect them to solve problems that have all developed or thrived under their own leadership. ‘Elect me so I can stop ____. Even though I’ve been in power for many years already.’ ”
Beto has also shaken a lot of hands. He probably goes through one 24-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer an hour. He’s everywhere. He is the definition of whistlestop campaigning. He was just in Fort Worth for the fifth or sixth time this campaign season last week. Hundreds of peeps showed up and showed out. I wouldn’t be surprised to pop into the Boiled Owl for a Lone Star pounder over the next couple of days and see ol’ Robert Francis sitting on a barstool waving his hands around explaining something while drinking a Rahr because he’s even more Fort Worthy than I am. (Beto O’Rourke, Magnolia-approved.)
Not only is he normal-seeming, but he’s also smart. As he has said, Greg Abbott has had a long time to figure out why gunmen keep mass-murdering our loved ones in public spaces and why we must sacrifice the creature comforts that we pay for to keep his buddies’ electric grid running and their mansions properly air-conditioned and illuminated and why property taxes and rent keep rocketing skyward. The time is now for a new beginning with someone who might not have all the answers but who knows exactly where to start: in Greg Abbott’s office.
Let me be perfectly clear: I would vote for a used condom stuck in the teeth of a craggy street gully in deep suburban Saginaw before casting a ballot for Greg Abbott — or for pretty much any Republican politician anywhere. We’ve come to a point in our 250-year-old democratic experiment when one political side has tried to overthrow the government to stay in power while the other, disappointing yet not evil side has watched and sent URGENT emails. A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote for a theocratic state no better than the Taliban in Afghanistan. It starts with them telling us what we can and can’t do with our own bodies. It ends with them telling us where we can travel, who we can be friends with, where we can work, even who we can love and marry. As an Atheist and somewhat of a wild ass who maximizes his personal freedoms, nothing scares me more than the morality police, and Greg Abbott would love to take some of our hard-earned tax dollars and create an armed force dedicated to policing our ethical decisions. Like the pervs that they are, the party of so-called “small” government sure is interested in our households. And our bathrooms.
Taking away your bodily autonomy, taking away your books, taking away your freedom to go to school, church, Walmart, or anywhere else people gather without fear of being torn apart by an AR-15, taking away your right to vote — this is everything the freedumb party of Texas wants. A vote for Greg Abbott is a vote for Big Brother. Don’t think it’s not.
One great follow is Conservative Self-Owns. Almost every other week, some idiotic Texas Republican rants about all the drugs seized at the border. What the posters think they’re saying is “Look at all the drugs them damn Messicans are trying to smuggle through!” The actual takeaway is “Look at how awesome President Joe Biden’s border patrol is.” The distinction is important. Republicans, who have absolutely zero original ideas, are once again falling back on “Dems are soft on immigration and crime” — and it’s working because most voters are idiots. If you take anything away from this eloquent, monumental, haphazardly spellchecked rant, let it be that the . Again, I apologize for disrupting your monster truck rally in the parking lot of Target, but Fox “News,” the Star-T, and Tucker Carlson are lying to you, bro.
At the border, the joke is even funnier. In 2021, 90% of fentanyl confiscations occurred at legal points of entry and more than 86% of fentanyl smuggling convictions were of U.S. citizens.
As Abbott goes on claiming Beto is soft on crime, because, again, “soft on crime” is all that the intellectually bankrupt other side has to run on, Beto continues hammering the governor on guns and abortion. And rightfully so. Since nothing has changed since Texas’ most recent mass shooting, in Uvalde, and since now Texas women with complicated pregnancies can die — die — without abortions, Beto is smart to pin all this death and dying on the guy (allegedly) in charge.
Texas has experienced eight mass shootings since firearms became more accessible here over the last 13 years. When asked if he would consider banning assault-style weapons for 18-year-olds after Uvalde, Abbott waffled, and his prevarications show that not only is he beholden to the NRA but he is also unfit to lead. More dead children have become the norm in this state. Instead of making schools safer, Texas handed out DNA kits for parents to be able to identify their children after a gunman slices them to pieces with an assault rifle. Abbott will do nothing to stop the bleeding as long as the National Rifle Terrorist Association keeps writing those fat campaign checks with his name on them. Assault weapon bans, background checks, age limits, waiting periods, and ammunition restrictions would all help curb the spread of mass shootings and gun violence in general if only Republican politicians had the balls to listen to the facts instead of kick back and count all the blood-stained dollars rolling in. Other countries have mental illness, other countries have hate groups, other countries even have doors, and there are more mass shootings in this country than anywhere else in the world because there are .
I understand collectors. I’m a collector of things. I like stuff. (Vintage magnets, anyone?) No one wants to take away anyone’s priceless Civil War flintlocks or whatever. We just want to keep rapid-fire weapons out of the hands of criminals, immature punks, and the mentally ill. Why anyone other than a soldier needs a firearm capable of snuffing out or maiming large swaths of people in mere seconds should not be up for debate. Penis enlargement surgeries cost much less. Sounds like a lot of bros in this state need one.
The NRA has contributed $16,750 to Abbott. Though chump change compared to what voting members of Congress receive from the terrorist organization, that amount of blood money is huge for a governor.
Under Abbott, Texas has suffered five of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history “as gun violence became the leading cause of death among kids and teens,” Beto says. “How did [Abbott] respond? By making it easier for another [mass shooting] to happen. How do we respond? By voting him out and preventing it.”
Here’s another little something Beto could certainly slam Abbott over: the stupid grid.
It failed, drastically, during the 2021 snowstorm, and because it’s not connected to the national power system, it’s constantly at risk of going limp if the weather gets one degree too hot or one degree too cold. Make sure you keep your thermostats at a lukewarm 78 in the summer, suckers! Is this one of the united states of America or Papua freaking New Guinea?
The grid’s collapse cost more than 700 Texans their lives and created more than $300 billion in economic damage, and when Abbott had the chance to craft tighter regulations to keep the power flowing the way it needs to, he punted. Bad news for us was a windfall for him. All the energy CEOs who made more than $11 billion by price gouging us during and after the disaster? Abbott let them slide, and in return, those rat bastards showered his campaign with cash.
Oil, gas, and other energy interests ejaculated about $4.6 million total, the governor’s “largest haul ever from those groups in the post-legislative session fundraising period,” the Texas Tribune says, adding that four out of Abbott’s Top 10 individual donors are oil and gas men and that his Top 10 voters this election are all Grade-A suckers.
“Gas producers got a pass by Texas policymakers,” a UT energy prof told the Tribune. “Making a million-dollar political donation to reward the government for its light touch and encourage the government to continue turning a blind eye to price gouging and windfall profits while hundreds of people die seems like a good return on investment.”
I, a Texan in good standing for the past 24 years, 20 of them consecutive, did not know that our grid was not connected to the national one. That’s on me. Now that I am fully aware of its lone wolf status — or “Teen Wolf,” if you’re rocking a Ted Cruz “beard” — I am with Beto. The Dem nominee says that once elected, he’s going to “fully weatherize” Texas’ power grid, connect it to the national one “so that we can draw power when we need it most,” and prevent energy corporations from price gouging us for our displeasure. Energy bills overall should shrink because of his measures. In case you haven’t noticed, energy bills across the state have shot up .
Uninquisitive folks will blame inflation, and while it’s true that hard times are spreadin’ just like the flu across the entire globe, not just the U.S., corporate profits are up 53.9% from last year. Next time you try to balance your family budget, instead of blaming the president for a global catastrophe, how about taking aim at the 55 billionaire companies whose tax rate is a big fat 0%. Since functioning as consumers may be the only voice we have left, shop accordingly.
Blaming the president for global economic strife is an American tradition, and it’s one I’m not going to step on here. But before raising your “FJB” flag like the brainwashed hockey puck that you are, you must acknowledge a fraction of Sleepy Joe’s accomplishments in only two years, like his pandemic recovery bill, his infrastructure bill, his health care bill, the largest climate change bill in history, and his cutting the deficit by the largest amount in U.S. history ($1.4 trillion … with a “t”). If there’s ever been an American president not to blame for (global) inflation, it’s Joe Biden. And don’t forget that Arizona Iced Tea still costs 99 cents. What Grandpa Joe is or isn’t doing isn’t the problem. Corporate greed is.
“For every extra $1 you’re paying due to inflation, 54¢ is going right into the pockets of big corporations,” tweeted U.S. rep and white-board maestra Katie Porter. “Wall Street is price gouging families to earn sky-high profits, jeopardizing our entire economy in the process.”
For my kid’s 11th birthday a couple weeks ago, the fam and I met our friends and their own 11-year-old at Jellystone, the outdoorsy kid-friendly resort in Burleson. I expected a ton of “FJB” flags and other MAGA bullshit because we live in this redneck state and because, unlike Whitey, Black folk know better than to go messin’ with bears and whatnot in the damn woods. The road into B-town had me believing I would be right. (Spoiler alert: I normally am.) Traveling south on 35, there’s a huge billboard: “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and other genders are from Uranus!”
I reached into one of the 17 pockets on my cargo shorts for my hunting knife before realizing I lost my hunting knife years ago. I’m pollyannish that way. You have a dog that sits by your feet while you’re making food in the hopes that you’ll drop a shred of cheese? I’m the dog, and the cheese is life. I hope. That’s all I do. Hope. Now, I had to face the unwashed with only a Maglite to defend my family, my friends, and me. What would have been routine back in 2015 — a family outing! friends! cheap beer consumed vigorously! — had become fraught with terror. The feds recently released a joint intelligence bulletin warning of the threat of domestic violence aimed at “candidates running for public office, elected officials, election workers, political rallies, political party representatives, racial and religious minorities, or perceived ideological opponents” like my family and me, who aren’t dumb enough to wander into mixed company with our Black Lives Matter gear but have been known to rock our RBG and John Lewis shirts at Kroger and our son’s baseball games. “Violence,” continued the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the U.S. Capitol Police, “will largely be dependent on drivers such as personalized ideological grievances and the accessibility of potential targets throughout the election cycle.”
In my head, I practiced attack moves with the Maglite. In nearly every scenario, I saw it flying from my hands and thudding inertly onto the dirt paths. Charm, I thought. I’ll be utterly charming! *smiles in creep* My family’s gon die.
The truth is that, while political fisticuffs are real, our children are more likely to be sexually assaulted by a clergy member than “other genders.”
The truth doesn’t matter to the unencumbered. They’re taking direction from the TV. (How have these people managed to stay alive this long to be able to reach voting age? How have they not accidentally started WWIII with a toaster and a wet fork yet?)
For you un-unencumbered, there are facts. Fear is all Republicans have to run on. It’s all they’ve ever run on. Fear that someone (of a different color) will take your job. Fear that the same police force you worship will come and take your handheld dick extenders. Fear that an embryo won’t be brought to term while nearly 52,000 children languish in Texas foster care. As the Buddha said, “Fear does not prevent death. It prevents life.”
All Democrats have to do is offer better-seeming options, understanding that the unencumbered are not going to bother to surf to a credible news outlet and actually read. Dems need recognizable faces to meet the populist moment we’ve been living in since 2016. As the other side opts to scare voters and lie to them, what have the Dems chosen to do? It’s like one side is twirling fire like some mad Hawaiian hopped up on coke and Mountain Dew while the other is trying to find two sticks to rub together. Here’s what the Dems are up against: almost half the country loyal to a disgraced, one-term, twice-impeached, de-platformed racist rapist under criminal investigation for espionage, obstruction, conspiracy, fraud, and sedition, plus one civil investigation for now, who lost the House and Senate along with the presidency two years ago, can’t get any bank to return his calls, can’t hire any accountants, and can’t sell his “brand” for more than a dollars stuck to the bottom of your shoe. This is what the Dems are up against, and they still may lose next week and in 2024. It’s no wonder we’ve lost faith in them.
One guy to have faith in is Beto. The way he takes the proverbial high road is by trying to unite us, bless his hopeful heart. Just a few weeks ago, he wrapped up a whistlestop at easily the most conservative college campus in not only Texas but maybe the whole country, Texas A&M, to a packed house’s standing ovation. Now that Texas added more than 300,000 new voters since the illegal U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Texas Dems have a 10% advantage among new registrants. The old, rich, white, Christian farts in Brazos County responded generically to that data and specifically to Beto’s popularity by refusing to reopen an on-campus early-voting site in College Station in time for the midterms. This is why there’s so much animosity toward Dems. They allowed gerrymandering to go unchecked for so long. They allowed Roe not to be codified. They continue to allow Republicans to push them around. Beto says no mas.
“Greg Abbott has been Governor of Texas for eight years with Republican majorities in the House and Senate,” Beto recently tweeted. “Anything he’s saying he’s going to do is something he could have done but didn’t.”
At Jellystone, the lack of Dump and “FJB” flags and “Let’s Go, Brandon” crap infused me with even more optimism than I had cruising Arlington Heights. And everyone was super-nice. Maybe it’s time for the audacity of hope again. Maybe it’s time for Beto O’Rourke. Fort Worth says yes.
This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. He will gently edit it for factuality, clarity, and concision.