Editor’s Note: While the editorial board chose not to endorse a gubernatorial candidate, we encourage students to vote in the upcoming election.
Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, has demonstrated time and again that he is not ready for primetime. He has failed at his current job, prioritizing political grandstanding over the real work necessary to be an effective steward of the state. He maintains illogical and extreme political positions on a plethora of issues, namely those of special importance to students. Most importantly, despite feel-good ads and insincere debate performances, Abbott truly shows no signs of moving back toward the middle if elected. Make no mistake: An Abbott administration would be a dream come true for right-wingers. For all these reasons, I simply cannot recommend a vote for the Republican in good faith.
For the past 12 years, Abbott has served as attorney general of Texas. Historically a low-key post, it has been best known in recent years as serving as the main vehicle for going after deadbeat parents delinquent on their child support, as well as representing the state in lawsuits. These suits historically have been unifying exercises where the attorney general seeks justice on behalf of Texans. A major example was when a former officeholder, Dan Morales, secured more than $17 billion in a settlement against big tobacco companies. But ever since the creation of the tea party five years ago, Abbott has appeared content with using the office as his personal soapbox. Filing frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit, Abbott brags about his wasteful litigiousness in office, saying his typical day consists of waking up, suing the president and going home.
Unfortunately, Abbott shows no signs of reforming this lacking governing strategy if elected. Stump speeches, TV ads and debate performances show Abbott’s almost pathological obsession with harping on the perceived failures of President Barack Obama rather than focusing on why people should elect Abbott and not his opponent.
On the issues, Abbott does no better. He opposes a woman’s constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest. He continues to harmfully defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions, even after it has been ruled unconstitutional. Recently, he even made the absurd claim that banning same-sex marriage could reduce the number of children born out of wedlock. Such outdated political positions fly in the face of shifting public opinion and should not be supported.
Abbott is also on the wrong side of issues with special importance for students. He opposes raising the minimum wage, and believes University students should be allowed to carry their loaded handguns onto campus. He has also said that he would support the repeal of the Texas Dream Act, which allows undocumented immigrants who grew up in this state to receive in-state tuition at public universities. He even opposes the University’s limited use of affirmative action, despite the Supreme Court specifically allowing the practice. In a desperately transparent effort to appease the xenophobic elements of his political base, Abbott would be willing to turn his back on some of the most successful programs in Texas of the past few years.
Even on ostensibly non-contentious issues, Abbott’s plans are lacking. His education plan is full of vague platitudes, and his transportation plan — while making for an effective sound bite — does not even begin to address the myriad of problems our growing state’s roads will face. The big idea is to end diversions from the state’s highway fund. However, these diversions mostly go to big entities like the Department of Public Safety, not pork-barrel projects. You can see where I get my skepticism.
Despite crocodile tears shed over the state’s important issues, Abbott would not, if elected governor, work in a pragmatic and bipartisan way. His website outlines a right-wing pipe dream, espousing the aforementioned socially conservative rhetoric as well as others. He has been a driving force behind the state’s racist voter ID Law, which disenfranchises thousands in search of a problem (in-person voter fraud) that simply does not exist.
With Abbott heavily favored in this election, as well as his compatriot Dan Patrick in the race for lieutenant governor, the 84th Legislature will likely be a free-for-all of tea party proposals. This, despite the fact that time is growing short for Texas to deal with serious problems it faces in education, transportation and water, just to name a few. Greg Abbott will not deal with these problems. Don’t vote for him.
Horwitz is a government junior from Houston.