By Mimi Swartz
Ms. Swartz is an executive editor of Texas Monthly.
HOUSTON — “Should we be getting out of here?” This is the question my husband, a Virginia native, has asked with growing frequency as he scans the daily headlines at our breakfast table here.
He is not alone. Many of my friends and acquaintances, longtime Texans, including but not limited to die-hard Democrats, are asking themselves the very same thing. Each morning, they wake up to a place they no longer recognize.
In particular, the natural optimism of Texans — part of what we are so proud of and what has made us exceptional (or made us think we were) — has never, in my lifetime, been more under threat.
The culmination of events that brought us to this point was the 87th session of the Texas Legislature. Abortion will be effectively illegal here, with citizens empowered to sue the doctors who perform them and the clinics where they work. Most adults will be able to carry handguns without a permit. Teachers will be restricted in how they can discuss current and past events. The only reason a voter-suppression bill did not pass is that the Democrats took a powder at the last minute to prevent a quorum. (They have done so again, and we don’t know how the sequel will end.)
What was not on the agenda for Texas lawmakers in this session? Let’s see, rescuing our decaying infrastructure — the power grid that failed catastrophically during the February winter storms that left at least 151 people dead — along with desperately needed improvements to health care and education. According to our state leaders, those issues are not as important as keeping trans children from playing in school sports.
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