As Texans Suffer, our Politicians Parade with Negligence

Raider Echo Staff

Every  day, Texas reaches new numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, breaking records from previous days as the state approaches a year since COVID-19 lockdowns.

Now, almost 35,000 Texans have died as the post-holiday surge in cases overwhelms Texas hospitals. With one of the highest numbers of multi-generational housing  in the country, and the large service industry taking a hit, Texans have seen a bleak reality. 

When looking at Texas politicians, from the beginning of this crisis to current, the management has been abysmal, costing people their jobs, homes, and most importantly, their lives. Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and several others have single handedly caused Texas cases to spiral out of control. The careless mitigation efforts that exploded case numbers show a deep rooted problem in Texan leadership.

Politicians’ Recklessness 

While the Trump administration opposed creating a comprehensive national plan (like those which have allowed other countries to control case spread) and abandoned state leaders, a close colleague of his, Gov. Greg Abbott, refused to denounce such behavior, and in fact held private meetings with the former president instead. The topic of those meetings? Personal political endeavors.

As Texas food banks began to run thin and small-businesses faced struggling funds, the governor was holding phone calls to add to his personal portfolio. Our Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick discredited scientists during April and May, while openly suggesting that old people sacrifice themselves in order to maintain the Texas economy

The worry of economic fallout is warranted, but knowledge and research is of abundance. Many economists recommended that direct financial assistance would aid in that fallout, while being mindful of the disease. When unemployment assistance was added to the CARES Act, data showed that it kept people spending money, thus circulating money back into the economy

Furthermore, if that unemployment assistance had been continued specifically under the CARES Act in full, it would have boosted the national GDP by 3.7% and provided 5.1 million jobs. Instead of finding ways the robust Texas economy could benefit in aiding people in debt relief and direct assistance, our lieutenant governor equated life to a dollar amount as families said goodbye to their loved ones through texts and FaceTime. If he truly cared to save the economy, why wouldn’t he use avenues that would net positives instead of making barbaric proposals? 

Well into the year, at the end of November, Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick routinely refused to accept election results, despite no evidence suggesting irregularities cost Donald Trump reelection. Rather than helping fund public resources, Lt. Gov. Patrick offered one million dollar if anyone presented evidence of voter fraud. His only response was a Pennsylvania man who tried to use his dead mother’s name to vote for Trump. 

Our Attorney General, while under federal investigation for abuse of power in office, (his staff notified the agency that the attorney was conducting illegal bribery schemes) sued four battleground states to overturn their election results of about 10 million ballots that in the end favored Biden. After losing the lawsuit against swing states , he threatened secession and later attended the Jan. 6 march on Capitol Hill, inciting violence. 

There’s countless examples of Texas politicians doing this. Texas representative Steve Toth criticized Abbott for the minimal mitigation efforts taken because he thought there shouldn’t be any. Meanwhile his district in The Woodlands, Texas saw cases increasing by the hundreds every day.  Leaders in Kaufman County held government official parties in churches without requiring masks, making jokes of Democrats “curing COVID.” A man later died after attending one of these events. Randall Dunning, State Republican Executive Committee, pushed for public parties and get-togethers, stating that COVID was one of the most feeble epidemics ever. James Dickey, chairman of the Texas Republican Party, overrode the mayor’s orders in Houston to not hold a conference. At that time, Houston was struggling with 40K COVID-19 cases. 

Gov. Abbott’s reopening plan was extremely faulty, switching back and forth when non-essential businesses could open up, causing surges in the summer and during the holiday season. However, this surge wasn’t due to lack of preparation or a mistake on behalf of state and city officials, it was entirely expected. 

Our governor, on record, admits that every single scientific study and education advice shows that cases will surge if places are opened and masks are not enforced. He says his office’s goals “were never to reach zero transmission.” It’s absurd for Abbott’s goal to be anything other than that, considering it’s essential to slow the rate at which case numbers increase so hospitals don’t have to pick who gets a ventilator and who gets sent home. He willingly put Texans at risk of not receiving medical aid, forcing healthcare workers to make traumatizing decisions. 

A couple weeks later, in a photo-op with former president Trump, Abbott boasted that Texas has “all these strategies to make sure that we are able to contain any type of outbreak” and can manage to “contain the outbreaks where they exist.”

This all caused a disastrous year for the state. 

The Impacts on Communities

According to a UT study, Texan inmates are dying at a 35% rate higher than other states, while another study showed that 80% of Texan inmates who died from COVID-19 were never convicted of a crime, but still awaiting trial. Convicted or not, it shouldn’t mean a death sentence.  

Close to a year later since lockdown, the demand has only increased for resources and Texas food banks are expected to lose millions of pounds of food with inconsistent federal funds showing grave concerns for the March-April season.

Although the recently-passed stimulus bill halts evictions until the end of January, an eviction crisis could put half a million Texans out of their homes, according to low-income housing organization Texas Housers

Texas school districts struggle to provide adequate technology and provide worthwhile education as money runs thin, showing concerns for graduating classes. The governor’s office applied a hands-off approach for this school year, only requiring that schools offer face-to-face instruction. The rest of the job was left for school districts to decide on their own. 

The state of Texas has one of the largest economic stabilization funds called the “Rainy Day Fund” and received some of the most state funding in both of the passed stimulus packages. With the $10.2 billion in state funds, our legislators held off on relief spending until this month

The federal stimulus package CARES Act gave the state of Texas $11.2 billion dollars, which could only be spent during that year, to insure it be spent on direct relief. Local Texas officials still complained into December that the governor’s office was not transparent on where that money was set to go. Although he provided billions of dollars to major county areas, Abbott said that they had to figure out how to aid in all their smaller cities. Using aesthetics of “protecting Texan livelihood,” his office repeatedly refused to detail exactly where the rest of the money had gone. 

That’s your money. Your family’s money. It’s not the governor’s money, it’s not local legislatures’ money. It’s meant for you. Yet, as Texans take on more economic burdens, billions of dollars funded by the people’s taxes are nowhere to be found as our politicians parade in conspiracy.

Vaccine Rollout Mishaps 

As vaccine roll out plans makeway, healthcare workers were first in line to receive them with most counties now moving into Phase 1b, allowing at-risk people regardless of their work or status, to sign up for vaccinations

Dallas County was trying to show prioritization for low-income black and brown communities, since they took the hardest hit during this pandemic, because many are service industry workers and susceptible to greater health risks. Gov. Abbott quickly halted county efforts to equitize vaccine rollout, threatening to decrease the city’s vaccine supply, forcing Dallas officials to reverse the plan. After being told for months that vaccine distribution would bring hope for a nightmare to end, our politicians continue to use culture war talking points to deter any effective vaccine roll-out.  

As more are vaccinated and public spaces fully re-open, the negligence that politicians showed to every corner of Texas can never be forgotten. When the need for strong governance was most needed, Texans were left abandoned. The impacts? Life threatening.