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EDITORIAL: Republican radicals turn governor into their puppet

EDITORIAL: Republican radicals turn governor into their puppet

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Last week, amidst the interruptions, insults and lies spewed by his Republican opponent in the presidential debate, former vice president Joe Biden stressed that he does not support far-left ideas such as the Green New Deal, defunding police departments or implementing “Medicare for All.” In doing so, Biden signaled that while the Democratic Party has its radicals, they’re not in charge of him or the party.

Last week, amidst a pandemic that has killed nearly 16,000 Texans, and only days before early voting begins, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in the name of election integrity restricted each of our state’s 254 counties to only one drop-off location for mail-in ballots, penalizing the old, the infirm and the disabled who live in heavily populated counties such as Harris and Dallas that are far more likely to vote Democratic.

In doing so, Abbott showed not only that the Republican Party has its radicals but that they’re calling the shots in the GOP and must be obeyed, even if this means risking the lives of our most vulnerable to discourage voting and increase Republican chances of preserving power. Given the paucity of evidence of voter fraud in this country — and in a state that can hardly get residents to vote anyway — no other conclusion is possible unless one is self-deluded.

This newspaper vigorously defended Abbott for taking reasonable but hardly excessive measures to ensure fewer risks for a public worried about in-person voting during a highly contagious pandemic. These included increasing early voting by six days and extending the time in which those qualifying for mail-in ballots can personally drop off ballots at local election offices. Right-wing radicals such as Republican Party of Texas Chairman Allen West responded by suing Abbott.

Abbott’s response: Fold like a cheap suit. Try to get in the radical right’s good graces by placing hardship on senior citizens and the disabled who often vote by mail. The cruel irony: Many want to drop off mail-in ballots in person this election because President Trump has convinced them the U.S. Postal Service is not up to the task of delivering ballots on time. Their reward for following Trump’s admonition: Abbott’s Thursday order limiting such drop-off places to one per county.

Sure, little of this will impact McLennan County voters, many of them Republican. Our population, traffic and size are not extensive enough that one can’t safely motor down to the election office next to the courthouse sometime during three weeks of early voting to drop off a ballot. The deeper question: Are you outraged by this obvious effort to suppress the voting of older and disabled citizens? Should you not be angry that Republican prospects now rest on unfair elections?

We’ve not seen such cowardice by Abbott since 2015 when he refused to stand tall for our military personnel after right-wing talk-radio rumormonger Alex Jones, peddling his hateful Jade Helm 15 takeover scare, assigned them the worst of motives ahead of their important training exercises in our rural stretches. Despicable. And despicable again.

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