Other Voices

Big-government Republicans big-foot in Fort Worth

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick came to Fort Worth May 10 to protest transgender guidelines at the Fort Worth school district.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick came to Fort Worth May 10 to protest transgender guidelines at the Fort Worth school district. jlmarshall@star-telegram.com

I was born and raised in Tarrant County. I’ve often been involved in state and national politics, but my priority and first interest has always been Fort Worth and the surrounding communities.

Over the years, the first place most of us have looked for leadership is locally, because that’s where the best decisions are usually made.

State legislators, members of Congress, governors and other statewide officials have done best when they’ve paid attention to state and national concerns and otherwise served as boosters and supporters to local officials and the voters who elected them.

Unfortunately, current state leaders are turning that common-sense concept on its head.

Instead of tending to their knitting in Austin and leaving local matters to local officials, their big egos storm into cities, counties and schools to big-foot local officials.

They not only tell them what to do but how to do it.

Recently, we’ve seen full-blown big-government Republicanism run rampant in Tarrant County.

Fort Worth ISD leaders were working effectively and without controversy to implement already agreed-upon policies for transgender students. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick decided to show up and blow up the entire process.

He pitted family against family. He raised irrational fears, created confusion and generally caused problems while solving none.

Ethically challenged Attorney General Ken Paxton arrived right on Patrick’s heels to grab more headlines by issuing a “legal opinion” on the transgender issue. Of course, Paxton downplayed the hard fact that his “opinion” has absolutely no force of law.

Any opinion from Ken Paxton should be questioned. He’s currently under felony indictment for securities fraud.

He’s also being sued by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, and recent complaints have been filed about how he violated state law by issuing paid leave to politically favored employees.

In Fort Worth, Paxton got what he wanted — a chance to play to his narrow ideological political supporters and divert attention away from his problems.

You might expect a local leader, like a state senator, might be counted on to step up and defend local officials when leaders in Austin got too heavy-handed.

In the past, both Democrats and Republicans would see defending local voters and officials as not only their duty but as smart politics.

Current Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, is just not wired that way.

Burton is as much a big-government Republican as Patrick, Paxton or Gov. Greg Abbott. She would impose an ideological point of view anchored in Austin upon even her own constituents in Tarrant County.

Fort Worth may be the latest signal that these new big-government Republicans have come to power in Texas, but it won’t be the last.

They gained their power and will work to hold it by imposing narrow ideology and displaying authority.

They are skilled in concocting emotional and divisive solutions and applying them to nonexistent problems.

And as long as they’re allowed to get away with it, their favored targets will be local officials and voters.

Matt Angle was born in Fort Worth and grew up in Haltom City. He is founder and director of the Lone Star Project, a Texas Democratic PAC.