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In her latest attack ad, state Senator Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, the Democratic candidate for governor, accused her Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, of prolonging prosecution of sexual abuses occurring at West Texas State School, a juvenile detention center in Pyote, Texas. Keeping with the theme of “Greg Abbott, Insider General”, Davis’ campaign leaves out important facts once again. But the real issue is that ever since someone gave the Davis camp a video camera, the message never concentrates on the task on which Davis needs to focus in order to be victorious — attracting voters from the other side and galvanizing certain demographic groups that would statistically vote Democrat but don’t vote in high numbers.
Just as she did in her ad criticizing Abbott’s dissent in a Texas Supreme Court case involving the compensation to a woman after she suffered a sexual assault by a salesman whom she had let into her home, Davis plays to the ignorance of the lay person who does not consider legal technicalities. The latest ad claims that despite requests for prosecution from a Texas Ranger, the Attorney General’s office waited 11 months before prosecuting those guilty of abuse; during that period, more allegations arose. Abbott’s campaign responded by saying that the Attorney General’s office must wait to receive a request for assistance from the local district attorney’s office before taking action. While I would agree that bureaucracy hampers government expediency and that red tape is an inherent problem in government, at the end of the thirty seconds, I’m still left wondering what the point of the ad is.
As a Democrat vying for a statewide office, Davis has failed miserably to appeal to those who are the most participatory in Texas elections, and the state senator has not given those who typically don’t vote any reason to rush to the polls. Before releasing another ad, the Davis campaign needs to consider what is to be gained because I’d be willing to bet some money that the ad has not changed anyone’s mind, meaning no new recruits for Davis. The ad excellently reinforces the viewpoints of those already supporting Davis for governor. Good job. Those people weren’t voting for Abbott in the first place. Now, why should those who aren’t voting for the candidate, whether out of ideological differences or apathy, care?
Davis is an associate editor.
Editor's Note: This is a guest blog post from associate classics professor Jennifer Ebbeler.
On Friday, Sept. 5, a group of more than 150 faculty from across the campus gathered together in the SAC Ballroom for a daylong symposium on the future of undergraduate education at UT Austin. The symposium was convened by Provost Gregory Fenves and organized by a group of faculty, led by Jeremi Suri, a professor in both the history department and the LBJ School of Public Affairs in addition to a columnist for this newspaper.
The aim of this symposium was to engage faculty in an important conversation: How can we better integrate our identity as a research university into the undergraduate experience? President William Powers Jr. opened the symposium with a call to the faculty to accept the charge to think hard and creatively about the future of undergraduate education at UT Austin.
Seated around round tables in groups of six to eight, the faculty first listened to Rice bioengineering professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum describe Rice 360° Institute for Global Health Technologies, a program that has students solving real problems with medical care that arise in developing countries. We were then asked to discuss and respond to a prompt: how should we best connect research and discovery with teaching? Each table had an assigned stenographer, who took notes on the discussion and also composed a 25-word summary of the table’s conversation (these can be found here).
In the afternoon session, following a talk by University of Virginia history professor William Hitchcock, the conversation turned to a second question: What could be done to best motivate, enable and empower the changes that we have talked about (see summary here)? The faculty and administration at UT Austin are working hard and are deeply invested in creating an innovative, meaningful undergraduate experience for our students. We have a lot of work to do, but it quickly became clear that, somewhere on campus, there are dedicated faculty already piloting many of the ideas that emerged from the day-long symposium. We all agreed that an important next step is to engage our students in this conversation.
A few days ago, Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, unveiled his plan for women's healthcare issues. The plan itself is painfully short on details, and is a rather limited solution to a big problem.
The plan raises money for important women's healthcare such as cancer screenings, as well as more incentives for medical professionals to expand their services into historically underserved communities. As many liberal commentators have noted, this plan is more show than substance, and it completely ignores one solution that would provide a huge, immediate benefit to the women of Texas: allowing the federal government to step in and expand Medicaid, as prescribed by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, the Democratic candidate for governor, has not offered much in the way of highly detailed plans on this topic herself. However, Abbott should face special scrutiny, given the fact that he has so vigorously campaigned for the continued enforcement of an omnibus anti-abortion bill (the one Davis filibustered) that will likely close down the vast majority of clinics that provide abortions to women in Texas.
Contrary to what many in the Republican Party may say, Planned Parenthood and likewise services do not exclusively terminate pregnancies, nor is it the majority of what they do. Rather, family planning organizations such as them spend enormous resources providing basic healthcare for women, including cancer screenings. Since Davis doesn't want these clinics closed, she doesn't have to explain how she intends upon making up the invaluable services to the women of Texas.
Perhaps Abbott should hire a few female advisors on this topic. According to photographs of Abbott's press conference at a hospital in Houston wherein he announced his new platform, the only relevant players in this policy debate are men. No fewer than eight stand directly behind him as he discusses healthcare and choices that will directly affect none of them.
Horwitz is an associate editor.