Politicians will do crazy things to try to connect with some part of the electorate whose votes they crave but whose life and culture may be foreign to them. The Democratic candidate on their first hunting trip is a favorite. Only Ann Richards was able to pull that one off persuasively. With her big hair, Texas drawl and a deer rifle in her hand, she let them know that she would probably hold her own in a bar fight with any of them two-steppin’ cowboys. And it probably wasn’t her first hunting trip, either.
My all-time favorite was when an incumbent Texas Secretary of Agriculture named Reagan Brown decided that he could connect with Texas’ farmers and ranchers by jamming his hand into a bed of fire ants while the photographers stood by drooling. Cowboy types were not impressed. His opponent wasn’t only a Democrat, he was about as progressive as they come. Thank you, Reagan V. Brown for giving us a few good years with Jim Hightower.
A bit less showy than the faux hunting trips and the fire ant challenge (too bad there were no social media in 1982), there is the practice of what I call G-droppin’. Candidates for statewide and national offices typically have been educated with bachelor’s and law degrees, often from Ivy League schools. They have learned how to speak proper English and they speak it with a precision that often makes their home folks think of them as “puttin’ on airs.” Put these folks in front of a judge in a courtroom and they speak the king’s English.
But a roomful of voters at the American Legion Hall in Clute will have them droppin’ Gs from their present participles. Even President Obama did it. He dropped Gs with the worst of them. But it never sold the way Ann Richards sold her NRA-appealing hunting trips. With Obama, the G-droppin’ seemed like the opposite of puttin’ on airs, at least to me. He was just too honest and too good for that kind of panderin’ to the willfully ignorant. It never seemed natural.
But Greg Abbot has handed me one that tops the Reagan Brown performance. But there is no way that I can wring any humor from it.
In order to establish kinship with folks in the Trump cult, he has endangered all our lives and put our children at the head of the line. By issuing an executive order forbidding local governments from mandating masks and vaccines, he no doubt hopes he will be able to pick up the support of the leftover dregs of the Trump “base” in Texas. And as the evidence builds that his edict is probably going to cost lives and create more drag on the economy, he does what DJT would do. He doubles down. How utterly stupid and mean.
Fortunately there are some leaders at the local level who aren’t having any of it. Call it civil disobedience. Call it leadership. They see their jobs as protecting their citizens. Lina Hidalgo’s doin’ it. Sylvester Turner’s doin’ it. Some school districts are doin’ it, too.
In your face, *re* Abbott.