Government 101

“Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.” — John Lennon

Allow me to help out our friend Ken Paxton. He seems to be a bit confused about how government is supposed to work. He was voted in (twice) as the attorney general to the state of Texas. That means he is the number one law enforcement officer in the state. Usually, that kind of position would be out of bounds for someone under indictment. Of course, that would be a message directed more at the voters than him.

Paxton was under indictment when he ran the first time. Somehow, his securities case has not been adjudicated in five years. Naturally, part of that could be the use of big words like adjudicated. So, let me put this in plainer language. If you are charged with a crime you should probably see your date in court come sooner than that. Obviously, some people get treated better than others in our justice system.

Since then, he has found himself in hot water again as senior staff mostly resigned and/or blew the whistle on other illegal activity. So, now he is twice indicted. Having a twice indicted attorney general is a lot like giving Jeffrey Dahmer a Humanitarian award. So, when he files a lawsuit I have to suppress the urge to gaffaw.

Yet, here he is threatening a suit against the mayor and city of Austin. Why would he do such a thing you might ask? Well. it seems that Austin wants to continue on with a mask mandate. Didn’t the governor lift the mask mandate? Funny you should ask. Let me break this down using small words so that Paxton can understand.

His boss, the governor, lifted the state mandate for masks. That means there is no more statewide rule that you must wear masks. However, in true conservative fashion, he didn’t mandate zero masks. He simply left it up to local governmental entities to make up their own minds about whether they would mandate masks.

Now, depending on your political leanings, this is either cowardly or brilliant. It’s hard to look at a governmental executive passing the buck as brilliant, but I suppose you could buy the argument. It means that local officials can use the facts on the ground in their particular location to govern whether they have their own mandate. Larger cities probably would want to keep the mandate. Positivity rates are higher in denser population centers. Whoops, I forgot I was supposed to use small words. Cities bad. Small towns good.

So, Edna, Texas or Dublin, Texas might shed the mask mandate since they are small towns with likely lower rates of COVID. Bigger cities like Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio might keep the mandates because their rates are higher.

So, in some way it might seem wise to let local governments decide for themselves how to proceed. Yet, if you choose to do that then you cease to have control over what those government agencies choose to do. It is the same when the TEA left it up to local districts. When you leave a decision to someone else you cease to have control over that decision. You can hem and haw about that decision, but if you really felt that strongly about it then you should have stood up and made a decision.

This is what we call having your cake and eating it too. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot shuck responsibility for a decision and then turn around and remove the ability to make a decision from someone else. You either lead, follow, or get out of the way. But sue on McDuck, go on wasting the court’s time and patience.

Governing is hard work. The concept of federalism makes it that much harder. To put this in plain words for Mr. Paxton, that means that the national, state, and local governments must share power and responsibility. Wise leaders know when to exercise their power and when to allow others to make decisions for themselves.

Abbott has given Texans a definite choice in 2022. His governing philosophy seems to be not to govern. He is willing to allow private business and profit motive run our power grid and he seems to be willing to let local governments and businesses take the bullet for unpopular mask mandates. The problem is that those mandates were making us safer. Giving up the mandate is akin to giving up an umbrella in the middle of a thunderstorm. I’m perfectly dry now, so I obviously didn’t need it.

If Texans are okay with a governor that doesn’t govern then they are free to choose Abbott again. If Texans are okay with the number one law officer in the state being a crook then they are free to choose Paxton again. If we want them again I would politely suggest that they should be enrolled in a high school Government course. They must have skipped a few chapters when they were in school.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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