Home Agenda Despite state diversity, Texas governor pursues ultra-conservative agenda

Despite state diversity, Texas governor pursues ultra-conservative agenda


Building on his state’s passage of the most restrictive abortion law in the United States, Gov. Greg Abbott has made Texas a testing ground for deeply conservative ideas in a still blatantly divided America. by the presidency of Donald Trump.

A challenge to the law, which bans abortions after six weeks, is due for review by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, and some observers fear the conservative-leaning tribunal will overturn long-established abortion rights .

But Texas’ abortion law is just the latest politically provocative step taken by Abbott, a Catholic who turns 64 in November. In just a few months, he has given birth to a vast body of laws that seem bound only by an intention to appeal to the far right. One of them requires transgender students to only play on sports teams that match their birth sex.

Yet the 29 million people of Texas – 40 percent of them Latin Americans – are far from a solidly Republican bloc. Trump won the state in 2016 and 2020 with just over 52% of the vote. Elections for the US Senate are generally close, with Democratic mayors presiding in several major cities, including the capital Austin and the state’s largest city, Houston.

So some observers see Abbott’s conservative zeal as a clear sign of someone whose ambitions extend far beyond the borders of his great southern state.

– Lofty aspirations –

“Based on the actions I saw him take, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran for president” in the 2024 Republican primaries, said Juan Carlos Huerta, professor of political science at the Corpus Christi campus from Texas A&M University.

For now, Trump would be a “shoo-in” for the nomination if he wants to, Huerta said, while adding, “but politics are changing.” Among other things, the former Republican president faces a host of legal challenges on several fronts.

Trump has yet to officially declare his intentions for 2024, but his words and actions clearly point to a new candidacy for the country’s top office.

Yet, given the many uncertainties, several Republicans have quietly positioned themselves to step up if he were to bow out.

Given the wide range of potential Republican candidates, “Abbott could position himself for a role in a second Trump administration – maybe in cabinet, maybe in court, maybe even as vice president,” he said. said Erica Grieder, columnist for the Houston Chronicle. .

In Texas, as in the rest of the country, the Republican Party leans significantly to the right, still under the influence and control of the former president. Politically ambitious Republicans must therefore prove their conservative good faith.

Abbott’s Texas is a perfect example.

Laws adopted since September 1 allow anyone aged 21 or over to carry a handgun without a license or special training; allow the state to penalize any city that cuts its police budget; require state-funded sports teams to play the national anthem before their matches; criminalize homeless settlements, and more.

In August, the state allocated $ 25 million to build two miles (three kilometers) of wall along the border with Mexico, where on June 30 Abbott appeared alongside Trump.

The governor, who has been confined to a wheelchair since being struck by a falling tree while jogging in 1984, faces serious challenges from the far right in Texas.

Abbott will have to win the Texas Republican primary in March if he is to remain governor.

One of his rivals, Allen West, dismisses Covid vaccines as “dangerous”. West himself contracted the virus and was hospitalized in early October, despite using unproven alternative treatments.

Although Abbott is vaccinated, he issued a controversial executive order prohibiting employers from imposing vaccination mandates on their workers.

“I wanted (…) to counterbalance the Biden administration to say that no one can be forced to get vaccinated,” he said in a video posted Oct. 20.

“What Abbott needs to do to protect himself from an attack on the right is go to the right of these candidates,” said Jeronimo Cortina, professor of political science at the University of Houston.

“For the primary, whatever the race you want to win it by a lot, so that you are the candidate for the unit,†he said.

But, as Texas A&M’s Huerta explained, “People who vote in the Republican primary are more conservative than the general population, if not most Republicans.”

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