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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Richard Connor: Trump, Texas Legislature need to accept reality

I swear we’re going backwards as a state and nation. The Texas Senate passed the bathroom bill despite its lack of fairness and warnings from convention planners, event marketers, and some of the nation’s biggest corporations that passage of this bill will curtail spending in Texas.

Our only hope now is a sane House of Representatives led by the able and sensible Speaker Joe Strauss. They can block this bill from becoming law.

Meanwhile President Donald Trump has decided that transgender people cannot serve in the military despite campaign pledges to be the best candidate to speak up for such individuals. Even putting aside its lack of sensitivity and its fundamental unfairness, the Trump decision reeks.

It’s simple. You are in battle, in war. Do you really believe that soldiers fighting for their country and their lives care about the gender identity of whomever is in a foxhole with them?

Of course not.

Wrongheaded policies such as Texas’ bathroom bill and Trump’s transgender ban represent a civil war in the Lone Star State and the nation. Even many Republicans find themselves on opposite sides of this conflict.

The far right in the GOP has lost its collective mind and its moral compass, if it ever had one.

We need to get a grip on the reality of present day life. People evolve. Times change.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam-era prisoner of war and a certified American hero, made a valiant speech on the Senate floor July 25 after interrupting his treatment for brain cancer in Arizona to return to Washington for a critical vote on health care legislation.

He bemoaned Congress’ gridlock-inducing partisanship and the mean-spirited, destructive rhetoric that passes for debate in the current political climate.

“Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio, TV and internet,” McCain implored his colleagues. “To hell with them!”

A few days before McCain pleaded for civility and collaboration, one of the bombastic loudmouths of whom he spoke, Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold, had blasted a fellow Republican, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, for taking issue with her party’s plans for repealing Obamacare. Farenthold lamented that public officials can no longer challenge a political opponent to a pistol duel, as in the days of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.

Well, I’m a Texan now but a native of Maine and I know Susan Collins. She is one of our most honorable and hard-working public servants, an individual who is actually trying to get something done.

And while on the subject of Maine it might be worth pausing to reflect on the heroics of Civil War Col. Joshua Chamberlain, who was credited with turning the tide in the battle for Little Round Top at Gettysburg.

He only had 266 soldiers left in his 20th Maine Regiment to defend the little mountain. But he had 120 prisoners from another regiment who had mutinied and refused to fight because of a dispute over the length of their service. Chamberlain had orders to shoot the prisoners if they refused to fight, but instead of executing the men he integrated them into his unit, increasing his fighting force enough to hold his ground.

He did not discriminate about who would fight and who would not. He welcomed all hands.

It’s hard to imagine that, today, an enlightened and right-thinking commander such as Chamberlain would refuse the service of a willing soldier because of concerns about gender or gender identity. Mired in the past as he is, America’s commander in chief might look to Chamberlain for guidance.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at rconnor@bizpress.net

Richard Connor
Richard Connor is the owner and CEO/Publisher of DRC Media, the parent company of the Fort Worth Business Press. he also owns newspapers in Virginia. Mr. Connor held a number of corporate media executive positions before founding his own company. He is an award-winning columnist and at one time wrote a weekly column on national politics for CQ Politics, the online version of Washington, D.C.-based Congressional Quarterly.

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