Nationally, Republicans have issued strong denials that state legislation regarding voter access is intended to benefit their party. In 2021, the Texas legislature adopted new restrictions upon voter ID that have resulted in thousands of rejections by Texas officials for early absentee ballots. According to a report by The New York Times, just over 8,300 were rejected in 2020, while that number has been exceeded thus far in only two populous counties. The Democratic and Republican primaries occurred on March 1.
The primary has bits and pieces of interest for virtually all points along the political spectrum, from a Bush family member to intraparty conflicts among Republicans for several offices and competition for the Hispanic vote. The incumbent governor, Greg Abbott, having polled just under 1.3 million votes, will face Beto O’Rourke, who garnered 947,000 votes.
The latest Bush in politics, George P., will face the incumbent attorney general, Ken Paxton, in a runoff in May. Pundits are of the opinion that Hispanics are opting to support Republicans out of a sense of being ignored by Democrats and the party’s position on abortion. Ronny Jackson, incumbent House member and former White House physician to the former president, ran unopposed but sent a fundraising email with the subject “lost primary.”
The political dynamics in Texas between now and November, including the SCOTUS decision on its abortion law, will further define the temper and temperature of Lone Star voters. Both political parties will be reading the electoral tea leaves.
In the late 1870s, the state of North Carolina and the Norfolk Southern Railway cooperated to use the labor of thousands of Black convicts to construct rail lines and tunnels near Old Fort, N.C., not an uncommon practice in the service of capital enterprise.
Hundreds were estimated to have died from accidents and the grueling work of installing track and digging tunnels. The project experienced financial difficulties but was rescued and completed in 1912 by Col. Alexander Boyd Andrews. Not surprisingly, a testimonial was erected in his honor for completing the line “in appreciation for the great public service he rendered.”
In 2020, a group of local amateur historians created a nonprofit organization to commemorate the 3,000 prisoners and former slaves whose sweat and muscle between 1875 and 1879 created seven tunnels in the mountains. The group has identified several burial sites along the construction pathway. A May 9, 1878, article in the Asheville Citizen reported that the convict labor was not sufficient and noted, “word will be sent out to the prosecuting officers to bring before the courts a larger number of offenders.”
The 13th Amendment, adopted in 1865, simply declared neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist in the United States, “except as a punishment for crime.” Necessity in North Carolina was the mother of criminal conviction, not invention.
Bounties and “sic ‘em” legislation have become popularized by the Texas abortion law. Not to be outdone, an Oklahoma Republican state legislator introduced a bill allowing residents to sue teachers who offer an opposing view from the religious beliefs of students. Civil damages are set at a minimum of $10,000 per incident, per individual, payable from personal resources. If unable to pay, the teacher is to be fired.
The proposed act is named the Students’ Religious Belief Protection Act and also covers any books with perceived anti-religious content. One glaring shortcoming is that the bill does not identify or define the religious beliefs that may be the basis for prosecution. It is possible, therefore, that a history class examining the Protestant Reformation could be deemed to be communicating anti-Catholic sentiment.
Such novel and questionable attempts are replacing “gotcha” comments with such bounties to enforce unenforceable ideas. In this case, apparently in all seriousness, the bill justifies its measures as “necessary for the preservation of the public peace.”
Categories: Beyond our Borders, CIVIL RIGHTS, crime and punishment, elections, FREE SPEECH, labor and unions, legislature, National, political discourse, political parties, politics, prisons, racial symbols, slavery, transportation