Wendy Davis says nice things, but plans need more substance

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State Sen. Wendy Davis, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, speaks during her final debate with Greg Abbott, Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Texas attorney general. 

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: While the editorial board chose not to endorse a gubernatorial candidate, we encourage students to vote in the upcoming election. 

The calamity that is the Wendy Davis campaign should have started with two goals: encouraging groups that traditionally vote Democrat to get to the polls and appealing to moderate conservatives. To accomplish the latter, Davis contradicted herself on certain issues. Her opposition to an omnibus abortion bill — let’s be honest — got her on the ballot, but she later voiced support of a 20-week ban on abortion. Davis supported strict gun control prior to her candidacy but later announced support of open carry. Veering to the right on such issues would have meant something to voters if the effort had been honest. Unfortunately, Davis assumed a brief mention of Republican-sounding things would suffice while she hid behind empty policy stances by attacking her opponent Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Adversarial speech should be welcomed in politics so voters get a full picture of candidates, but mocking disability or dredging up scandal do not qualify one to be governor. Criticizing Abbott weakens him in the eyes of liberals — in other words, people who were not voting for him in the first place. And with sound bites supporting gay marriage, Davis is certainly not going to garner any new votes from the right. For apathetic voters — some of whom believe government is inherently corrupt — portraying Abbott as “Insider General” creates more distrust among voters, especially when Davis’ background is not squeaky clean. The troubling presupposition of the Davis campaign is that while Davis rants about Abbott, no one is going to ask what she brings to the table — nothing. 

Davis says many nice things that are difficult morally to argue with, but without a viable plan, the funding or a cooperative Legislature, Davis is reinforcing the concept of liberalist folly and relying on her supporters’ shiny ball syndrome. 

Davis’ only “developed” plan relates to education. A single mother who lifted herself up by the bootstraps to become a successful Harvard Law graduate — or whatever the story is — Davis is seen as a champion for education. But her education plan is simply unfeasible. As for universal pre-kindergarten, Davis has claimed the program will cost about $700 million, but the National Institute for Early Education Research gives $2 billion as a conservative estimate. Davis has said to pay for the program, she would use the Economic Stabilization Fund intended to fund budget deficits or cut tax loopholes, which would not be supported by the Legislature. 

Other parts of the education plan are just silly. Great Teachers: Great Texas would allow the top 20 percent of high school juniors automatic acceptance into college if they commit to pursuing a career in teaching. How high school juniors will commit to a career when many college students can’t is a mystery. Davis also plans to double college credit hours high school students receive. This plan would be impossible to enforce given that universities have discretion in choosing which credits to accept. Also, most four-year institutions require at least 60 credit hours, roughly two years, to be taken in residence, and if students come to college with a surfeit of credit hours, and they are unable to finish in two years, they could be denied subsidized financial aid, which is restricted based on number of credit hours regardless of how they are acquired.

Additionally, Davis has shown support for a minimum wage increase, jumping on the liberal bandwagon. The employment effects of a minimum wage increase vary depending on the regional labor market. Yet economist Arindrajit Dube stated that a wage increase would increase the demand for low-wage jobs, leading to less turnover. No one can deny the benefits an increase would have on poverty-stricken families, but unilateral implementation is not the answer. Wage increase supporters want to glorify the McDonald’s job, but the truth is such low-wage jobs should be temporary stepping stones. A wage increase for skilled laborers in public transportation, sanitation or public works makes more sense; the government would encourage professional skill-building and not subsidize complacency. 

On the issue of immigration, in-state tuition to undocumented students makes sense. While requiring undocumented students to pursue citizenship should be on the table, we should not punish children here involuntarily who want to be contributing members of society. But outside of the subject of children, Texas must maintain a firm stance against illegal immigration, and Davis’ plan to grant undocumented immigrants with driver licenses is nonsensical and a magnet for illegal immigration. Furthermore, the measure is inadvertently malicious. Davis wants to dress undocumented immigrants up as citizens with a driver license without requiring them to take the steps to become citizens. 

It is truly unfortunate that standards are so low among liberal voters in Texas that they are willing to accept cute ideas with no basis in reality. Instead of making her a one-issue candidate, those pink tennis shoe-wearers should have been asking Davis the tough questions the next governor should be able to answer. Instead, Davis’ starry-eyed supporters have been swindled by half-truths, fairy tales and ad hominem fallacy. Wendy Davis is not right for Texas and should not be our next governor.

Davis is an international relations and French junior from Houston.