We endured a third inauguration for Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday, and the run-of-show was nothing new: Pomp. Circumstance. Hypocrisy. Blatant disregard for the separation of church and state. Anti-abortion rhetoric. Thinly veiled jeers at the LGBTQIA+ community. Undermining public education. No mention of the lives lost in Uvalde, TX last year or gun violence while touting a plan to “make our schools safer.”
Taking place on the heels of the 88th Texas Legislative Session beginning, this inauguration clearly illustrated the Texas GOP’s obsession with taking away our freedoms to retain political control and then finding a way to pat themselves on the back for it.
So, just what are their priorities at the Capitol this year?
Well, a chief focus can be squarely found in the opening prayer, when the pastor thanked Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Gov. Abbott for, “stopping the trojan horse of immorality in our school systems.”
Considering Abbott and Patrick’s staunch support of voucher programs that drain money out of neighborhood public schools to subsidize private and religious schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers and don’t have to meet the same standards, as well as their backing of fellow GOP members and religious right groups that have sought to erase the past and present of Black and Brown people, women and girls, and LGBTQIA+ people from Texas public school curriculums—it’s pretty clear that the “trojan horse” is simply teaching the truth.
Abbott carried this idea into his speech stating that “school is for education, not indoctrination.”
We do have a moral obligation to Texas students. That obligation is to ensure that all Texas students are represented in our curriculums, free to learn, embraced for who they are, and given the tools to learn from our past to create a better future.
Another moral obligation we have to our kids is keeping them alive at school. Our leaders have let gun violence in our schools reach such frequency that no discussion about education can be complete without addressing it. And well, Abbott’s comments on education during his speech were certainly incomplete.
While Abbott vowed that, “we will not end this session without making our schools safer.” He never uttered the word “gun.” He certainly never went so far as to link it to the word “violence.”
Perhaps the most galling—he never once mentioned the 21 Texans who died in Uvalde, TX during the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary in May 2022.
A tragedy that was only amplified by the fumbling law enforcement response while children were dying in their own classrooms.
Abbott did, however, make sure to voice his allegiance to law enforcement, promising the state will, “defund any city that defunds their police.”
The futures of Texas children endured as a main topic during the entire inauguration—but Abbott relied heavily on his “parental rights” talking points to serve as the framework.
“Parents know what’s best for their children,” Abbott proclaimed, garnering applause from the crowd.
He forgot to say they know best unless, of course, they’re affirming their transgender children.
For a party that preaches small government, they sure do like telling people what to do.
For instance, when we should have children, or if we should die due to pregnancy complications without access to lifesaving abortions. (Praise for Abbott’s “value for life,” and anti-abortion rhetoric were also rampant throughout the inauguration, to no one’s surprise.)
“We provide a ladder for anyone from humble beginnings to climb to the heights of success,” Abbott crooned in the closing of his speech, referring to an economy he posits is stronger than ever while the cost of living continues to soar every day.
But who is “anyone?”
Can you climb to heights of success if you’re forced to carry a pregnancy at 14 after you’ve been denied birth control without parental consent?
What if you’re denied gender-affirming care and forced to live in a body that does not feel like your own? What if you’re taken away from the only family you’ve known, and thrust into our state’s failing child welfare system, all because your family loved and affirmed you?
What if you’re denied renewal as a DACA recipient and forced out of the only country you’ve called home?
All Texans deserve the freedom and resources to thrive. But Abbott is not concerned about the “all”—just the mighty few he agrees with. That’s clear from his past eight years in office, during which he’s sacrificed Texans’ lives as he’s embraced far-right culture.
We see past his fear tactics.
Despite Abbott’s constant attack on our lives and freedoms, we will not be silent and still while the Texas GOP uses this legislative session as yet another mechanism for power and control over Texans.
This fight for our freedoms belongs to us all.