[Note: An edited version of this letter appeared in the Dallas Morning News on 29 March 2014.]
Candidates in this year’s Texas Republican primary and runoff campaigns have been ignoring the significant issues faced by the state. These include reforming public schools, budgeting and taxation, building and repairing highways and bridges, financing Medicaid, and guaranteeing adequate water supplies for Texas agriculture, cities and industry.
Instead, political consultants have persuaded these candidates to hit “hot-button” issues aimed at stirring emotions and prejudices. The most ridiculous of all was raised in a debate last week in Kerrville between finalists for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor. The candidates blamed each other for failure to pass a bill barring the use of Sharia law in Texas.
Put aside the fact that Sharia is essentially domestic relations law, dealing with divorce, inheritance, and child custody – not beheading criminals or hacking off body parts. Just where in Texas do these candidates find judges turning to Sharia when making decisions? They can’t, because this is a totally bogus issue. Worse, the bill last session was copycat legislation, lifted from an Oklahoma law. Our two states are likelier to outlaw football than to adopt Sharia.
If it’s not bad enough that our leaders dodge real issues to push phony ones, they have to look across the Red River for inspiration. Shame on them for doing it, and shame on us if we let them get away with it.