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Dan Patrick’s Confederate posturing

Whatever else you can say about Dan Patrick, he’s always on brand.

n response to a letter by Democratic state senators urging the removal of Confederate monuments and symbols at the Texas Capitol, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick blamed Democrats on Monday for past discrimination in the state and said the party is not committed to a “sincere” or “serious conversation” about the future of the monuments.

He did not directly answer whether he supported removing the symbols.

“If you are truly sincere about a serious discussion, then you need to openly examine the role Democrats have played in our state’s history on this issue,” Patrick wrote in a letter to the Democrats. “It is time to be transparent. A first step in addressing these issues is for Democrats to acknowledge that it was your party who carried out those past discriminatory policies and injustices and who built those monuments and hung those paintings.”

That kind of rhetoric has become common in the era of President Donald Trump, but it ignores the history of how in Texas and the rest of the South, many conservative Democrats switched parties after their former party embraced civil rights legislation. Texas was dominated by white, conservative Democrats for the first three quarters of the 20th century, a time during which the state passed numerous racist laws that enforced or promoted segregation and violated the rights of Texans of color.

But Republicans have been in near-complete control of the Texas government this century, and in that time have passed multiple voting measures found by federal courts to have intentionally discriminated against people of color.

In the last decade alone, federal courts have repeatedly scolded the Legislature under Republican leadership for discriminating against voters of color in redrawing political maps that undermined the political clout of Hispanic and Black voters and in passing one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country that disproportionately burdened voters of color who were less likely to have the identification the state required people to show at the polls.

At the start of the most recent legislative session, about 80% of Democrats in the Texas Legislature were people of color, compared with about 4% of Republicans.

You can see a copy of the letter, which was sent on August 12, here. As the story notes, there’s a select Senate committee that had been named by Patrick to review artwork in the Senate chambers, but for a variety of reasons it has not yet had a meeting. Clearly, that is not a priority on Patrick’s part, given his response to this gentle prodding. It was just last year that a Confederate plaque was removed from the Capitol following several years of lobbying by mostly Black legislators, so we know this can be done. On the other hand, the Senate that same year passed a bill that would have made it much harder for Confederate monuments to be removed; that bill thankfully never passed the House. Again, it’s clear what Dan Patrick cares about here. The ironic thing is that if he really wanted to stick it to the Democrats of fifty or a hundred years ago – the ones he blames for the presence of these monuments in the first place – he could work to remove those monuments that he claims are such a part of their legacy. I’m sure you can guess why he’s not interested in that.

So, as with the plaque in the Capitol, it’s going to take some work to get this done. Most likely, the removal of Dan Patrick from the Senate chambers as well will be a prerequisite. Be that as it may, let me close by applauding the Trib for putting Patrick’s bullshit in its proper context. A little truth can go a long way.

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9 Comments

  1. David Fagan says:

    “If that means I have to live with the knowledge that we booted some Green Party candidates off the ballot for the purpose of maybe upping our odds some small amount, I’ll do that. If you want to judge me for that, you are free to do so. I can live with that, too.”

    If Republicans are wolves, Democrats are wolves in sheep’s clothing. The history of racism is one that affects this nation beyond even our years. The strategy of Democrats throwing the hot potato to the other party is the only tactic they have. The Voters Rights Act was introduced by both a Democrat and a Republican in the Senate, it was OVERWHELMINGLY approved by both parties. There were still some that voted against it, 23 Republicans, which represented about 20% of all Republicans, and 62 Democrats, which represented about 28% of all Democrats. So Democrats, just because the tactic is blame it on the only other person in the room, does not leave them blameless. Finding reasons to justify Democrats’ distance from their own past and blame it on the other guy just boils down to the article Kuff’s quote comes from, just a fight for power.

  2. David Fagan says:

    Got my math wrong, it was actually 16% of all Republicans and about 20% of all Democrats voted against the Voters Rights Act of 1965, but still supports the overall point.

  3. Geoffrey Nash says:

    Is this voting rights act of 1965? If so that was before the southern Democrat’s switched to the Republican Party. That would change the counts to northern Republicans and southern Democrat’s.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    We need to have a conversation about putting up some NEW Confederate statues, not tearing down existing ones. I propose to install 100 new statues state wide, but I am happy to have a conversation with folks who think we should add less or more.

  5. Jules says:

    How about a statue of Falwell jr? Your special fantasies bigger than life, Bill.

  6. David Fagan says:

    Geoffrey Nash, then all the people who passed the voting rights act are now Republicans is what your are saying? Cause all the Southern Democrats would be a majority if the whole party. There’s no way around it, when there are only two parties involved, one cannot be blameless. The Democrat party should just stand up and tell everyone how they are officially “not racist”. I’ve never heard of the Green party, or the Libertarian Party, accused of systemic racism, if that is what is so important to everyone, then vote on issues and not the blue team or the red team. You DO have freedom of choice, right?

  7. brad says:

    Bill,

    Here is the conversation:

    “Bill, you support a political party that bigotedly supports a white nationalistic view of America and dog whistles about the ‘erasing of history’ when Confederates are torn down, when in fact, it is the tearing down of the monuments because they ENSHRINE white nationalism/supremacy…the history doesn’t go away.”

    Your response?

  8. Bruce Martin says:

    The appropriate response to Dan Patrick’s juvenile word games about the Democratic Party would be for the Texas Democratic Party to officially vote to expel Patrick from the Democratic Party on account of his unacceptable racism. Thus, the Dems would have a valid current occasion to condemn racism and those who still support it.
    We would likely hear Patrick whining that he had left the Democratic Party years ago, to which could be given the answer: “now, do tell…”

  9. brad says:

    David Fagan,

    We’ll take your suggestions right after the hundreds of members of the black caucus of the Republican Party stands up and tells everyone their party is officially “not racist”.