Devolution: This is what we’ve come to
By Texas State Senator Royce West
Evolution by definition means that an idea, a person or entity has undergone change. I know I certainly have. A caterpillar evolves into a butterfly. And yes, my behavior and perspectives are much different from me, the 40 year-old attorney and certainly from me, the 18-year-old, college student-athlete. I hope you can say I’ve evolved. Such is not the case for the condition that currently besets America. I’ll back my thesis.
Evidence being compiled to this day accuses the most recent, former commander-in-chief of taking numerous illegal steps to overturn the outcome of the November 2020 Presidential Election. And members of his own party attempted to prevail upon him to stop watching and take action to call off angry mob violence that on January 6, 2021, desecrated the very Chambers of Congress (actions he “incited” hours earlier with Texas’ attorney general present) with the intent to stop the legal transfer of power from the 45th to the now-sitting 46th President of the United States.
After the unprecedented attack on the nation’s Capitol, when the world witnessed members of Congress in mortal danger, fleeing House and Senate Chambers for safety, still 138 House Republicans and eight Republican Senators voted, to object at least once, to certify that Joe Biden won the race for President. Months later, many still will not say outright that the former reality show host did not win and Biden did.
Congress’ toxic climate dates back at least to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, through Bush #2’s presidency, intensified with the constant obstacles placed in the path of 44th President Barack Obama and metastasizes now. Unfortunately, it has shown few signs of getting better. It’s worse! It’s devolution. The polar opposite of evolution. And there are more examples than this account can encapsulate.
Why you ask, do some elected officials conduct themselves in ways that do not, in the opinions of a divided electorate, reflect what is best for the public? One word: POLITICS! It’s dangerous. And now, it’s even costing lives. Days ago, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul made a video telling America that “No one should follow the CDC’s anti-science mask mandate.” This comes months after Paul became the first U.S. Senator to contract the coronavirus.
He labeled officials who have attempted to put safety measures in place “petty tyrants and bureaucrats” and characterized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as being “drunk with power,” which segues to my next example of America’s political devolution. Last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued another executive order that now makes it illegal for any state, county or local governmental entity to impose mask or vaccination requirements.
The order came days before the opening of schools across Texas. It impacts county -run hospitals. Not to be far-right outdone, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has threatened to defund school districts and officials who defy his similar order that blocks mask mandates. Both orders came just days after the White House reported that Florida and Texas were responsible for 1/3 of all new COVID-19 cases across the country.
Over the last eight days, more than one million new cases have been reported nationwide. Over the past week, Texas has averaged 10,000 new cases a day, trailing only Florida with more than 18,000. Nationally, there have been 100,000 new cases reported daily over the same period. The reasons again point to politics in both states. Abbott faced extreme criticism from the political right in 2020 for shutting down the state.
Since then, Dallas-based, former State Senator Don Huffines and former Florida one-term Congressman and recent Republican Texas party chair Allen (no relation) West have launched primary challenges. DeSantis has sought to walk into footsteps laid by the former president who lost the 2020 election. What depths of societal devolution have been reached when candidates and elected officials choose political power and influence over protecting the lives of citizens, including those who did or did not, or will or will not vote for them? People’s lives and livelihoods should unquestionably come first. It’s time for the Governor to show some “personal responsibility.”
Royce West was first elected to the Texas Senate in November 1992.
He represents the 23rd Senatorial District on behalf of the citizens of Dallas County