On Oct. 23, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott caused an international stir when he posted on his twitter account, “UN poll watchers can’t interfere w/ Texas elections.  I’ll bring criminal charges if needed.  Official letter posted soon.”  Abbot ended the tweet with the hash tag “come and take it” – a reference to the flag that the Texan rebels flew at the Battle of Gonzales in Oct. 1835, the opening battle of the Texas Revolution.

The United Nations poll group that he was referring to is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  The OSCE was created with the help of the United States, first as a forum of conversation between east and west during the Cold War and later to promote freedom and democracy around the world.  It has monitored elections in the U.S. since 2002.  Abbott’s tweet was based on a fear that the OSCE was a liberal group trying to influence the election.  This is the guy who is in charge of upholding the law in Texas?  Where are the Texas heroes when you need them?

A day later, on Oct. 24, Abbott tweeted a quote from Sam Houston, the man who led Texas to independence in 1836 and served two terms as President of the Republic of Texas.  The tweet said, “Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.”

What would General Sam think of his Texas if he saw it today? I don’t think he would like that Abbott is trying to disenfranchise an entire group of Texans with his proposed voter ID law. Nor do I think Houston would have supported Abbott’s stance against the OSCE.  

The biggest issue is that Abbott is disgracing the state of Texas on an international stage during one of the most heated presidential campaigns in recent memory.  I say he is disgracing Texas because he is threatening to use law enforcement if the members of the OSCE get “within 100 feet of polling places.” 

Abbott is also using the history of Texas to support his position. I do not think the men who defended the cannon at Gonzales in 1835 had any idea that their battle cry would be used by future Texans to keep people from observing the very process they lost their lives to implement. 

Abbott’s decision to prohibit a group interested in learning about the democratic process gives the wrong impression, not just about Texas, but also about the United States.  We are the land of the free, but if more people like Abbott hold public office, we might not be for much longer.

At this point, I would like to let it be known that I have no political allegiance; I pledge allegiance only to the United States and the state of Texas.  That said, things are not going well for our state.

Since rejoining the union after the Civil War, Texas has traditionally held allegiance to one party; first, it was the Democrats from the end of Reconstruction in the 1870s until Texas’ own President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964.  From that point, the Republican Party began to make gains in Texas, culminating to the present age in which a Democrat has not held a statewide office since 1994.

Abbott’s statement against the voter group sends a bad message that Texans are backward and territorial.  In some ways, maybe we are, but we are also the Friendship State.  Someone needs to remind Greg Abbott of that.  We should be willing to let people who want to learn about our process get close enough to learn about democracy without scaring them away with our guns.  It is hard to learn about our system when one is not allowed within 100 feet of a polling place.

Perhaps Abbott should have listened to another of Sam Houston’s words of wisdom: “Texas, to be respected must be polite.”  Abbott is not advocating the Texan thing to do.  Heck, it is an un-American move. I cannot think of any state in the union that would be as unfriendly as Texas, represented by Abbott, in this situation.

Rather than pushing the OSCE away, perhaps Abbott should have said, “Y’all come back and see us again.”

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