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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: Governor candidates put culture war over constituency.

Photo by Photo by Kyle McClenagan

Chad Prather is a conservative YouTube commentator who is running for the Republican bid in the 2022 Texas gubernatorial race.

We are not at war with Mexico. But you wouldn’t know it if you were in attendance at a recent governor primary conference. And if they accomplish half of what they talked about, then they might just get their wish.

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, four Republican governor primary candidates met at the Hilton College Station & Conference Center to make their cases for why they’d do a better job than incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. On a panel full of candidates running to the political right of Abbott, I am not hopeful about any of these hopefuls. Former Texas Sen. Don Huffines doesn’t have it, I’d rather not have Chad Prather and Allen West ain’t the best.

We’re being invaded. This is a premeditated attack on Texas.” 

We have to put the hurt on Mexico.” 

“I’m stopping most inbound commercial traffic from Mexico.” 

“I’m engaging the entire Texas military.”

Statements like these, delivered by Huffines, predominated the night. 

Prather was just as concerning, stating, “[The federal government] wants Texas to fall” and is intentionally bringing in “illegals” to sabotage the state. He went on to say immigration will cause Texas to “lose its identity” and we need to “keep Texas the way it needs to be.” 

On the question of resettling Afghan allies, Prather said, “The folks that are coming here have no intention of assimilating into the identity of the spirit of Texas that we know. So, we got to stop it and protect it or we’re done, historically.”

I’d hazard a guess that “the way it needs to be” in Prather’s mind is white. 

I have just as much distrust in West’s judgment. In 2003, West was forced to retire from service after torturing an Iraqi police officer who was later released without charge

One of West’s talking points is that Abbott’s Operation Lonestar, the recent deployment of the National Guard to the Texas border, has been a critical failure. However, while the operation should be drawing heat for the rash of guardsmen committing suicide, West has criticized the operation for not being harsh enough. He called out Abbott for not properly supplying the National Guard or allowing them to “return fire” across the border. 

It’s fiscally irresponsible to not see the labor power and economic viability of migrants. By most metrics, immigration is a net positive on society. You would think the “pro-business” party would recognize the most obvious answer to our labor shortage problem. Texas needs workers, Mexican citizens need work and are often happier bringing American wages back home than members of the Great Resignation. If we want the security that comes with domestic production, temporary migrant wages are the only solution that is competitive under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and with countries overseas. 

Texas has a unique opportunity to develop and foster a special economic relationship with Mexico. Instead, we squander this in favor of culture war bushwa. If these candidates and the rest of Texas want sovereignty, then making enemies out of both the U.S. and Mexico is the last thing we should be doing. 

Huffines was the most blatantly outspoken about the “culture war,” using the phrase to death.  

Since the event, Huffines has made clear which side he sees himself on, having said he wouldn’t take any action against the campaign staffer who posted inflammatory racial remarks and promoted white supremacist talking points. He also participated in another common thread of the night, saying it was time we “took back our universities from the socialists.” 

Prather also blathered a similar sentiment. 

Our public school systems are not education systems … it is an indoctrination camp that is brainwashing our children,” Prather said. “[The schools are] churning out little socialists, sending them off to colleges and universities to be pushed around ideologically by tenured professors.” 

West said more of the same. 

Not every kid needs to go to college,” West said. “The reason why the left want them to go to college is so that they can turn them into little Marxists.”

Why should Aggies vote for anyone who thinks our pursuit of higher education makes us brainwashed sheep? No less, that education makes us our representatives’ political enemies?

The least well-known of the four, Danny Harrison, offered specific and more-thoughtful responses to policy issues like the legalization of cannabis, generating new revenue streams and eliminating sales tax exemptions, but he towed the line on many of the culture war issues proposed by the other candidates. 

Similarly, when questioned by The Battalion before the event about whether he was worried about being seen as a secessionist, Alan West responded, “I am not.” He went on to discuss the important relationship between states and their commitment to the constitution. 

Later, when asked by the moderators at the Hilton if he’d support a bill decreeing “The state of Texas shall reassert its status as an independent nation,” West plainly responded, “Yes.” That’s the real danger of normalizing these extremist positions, those that hold them will drag others down with them if we allow it. 

We need to say “Foxtrot Oscar” to radical opportunists. Those who want to turn us into a wartime state or promote white supremacy have put meaningless culture war issues over serving the people of Texas. 

While Abbott has scarred Texas, what these candidates offer is not even a Band-Aid. Bad leadership will only make our wounds deeper. 

Zachary Freeman is an anthropology senior and opinion columnist for The Battalion.

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  • Former state party chairman Allen West is running for the Republican bid in the 2022 Texas gubernatorial race.

    Photo by Photo by Kyle McClenagan
  • Don Huffines, former Texas senator, is running for the Republican bid in the 2022 Texas gubernatorial race.

    Photo by Photo by Kyle McClenagan
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