Dear People of New York,
Do you feel like you are unable to pursue your dreams? Do you feel oppressed by your regulatory environment? Do you feel like your liberties have been stolen? Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott seems to think so. So much so that he invested funds from his growing war chest in a campaign to recruit you to our great state of Texas. To be a bit more specific, Abbott seeks to bring freedom-loving New Yorkers, which in his mind, equates to the gun-toting among you.
A series of online ads began appearing on news sites in New York City and Albany immediately following the passage of far-reaching gun-control legislation by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Signed one month after that earth-shattering day in Newtown, CT, New York now has some of the toughest gun laws in the U.S. In the ads, Abbott cites strong job growth and lack of state income tax as reasons to “Get on down to Texas, y’all.” It’s true that over the past few years Texas has seen a huge influx of people from high-tax states, including large numbers from New York. Mostly high-income earners seeking to stretch those nice salaries with our lower taxes and lower cost of living. It makes perfect sense, really. We love it when newly arrived New Yorkers think our houses are cheap. “What’s that? You said you would like to pay cash?”
Then there is the gun-toting part. Abbott’s headline, “Keep your gun, come to Texas,” is paired with an image of Texas colored completely orange with the line reading, “Each orange dot represents a Texas gun owner.”
A mildly creative way of implying that you won’t be singled out here, because we are all packing heat. He further suggests that your liberty has been stolen along with your gun and makes the case that you can use your new surplus of cash to buy more ammo. I am certainly no expert on the New York state of mind, but I suspect you have a more balanced definition of liberty and much different plans for your money.
Which leads me to my next question. Are you as insulted by Abbott’s simplistic view of your values as I am embarrassed of his characterization of Texas and Texans?
I am Texan, born and bred. Along with the good things like chicken-fried anything and best damn quality of people you’ll ever meet, I have done my best to accept the less savory things that come along with this label. Such as, but not limited to, truck nuts, quarterly secession threats, insular thinking, a pretense that being gay is a choice and the relentless attempt to regulate a woman’s womanly parts by imbecilic, bible-beating politicians. Oh and a rampant, dick-swinging gun culture. Last I checked, we weren’t living on the frontier and I don’t care anything about dreams of an armed insurrection against a mythical and oppressive federal government.
Along with strong job growth and low cost of living are a few less favorable facts of which I should make you aware. Like that 1 in 4 people in Texas are uninsured; the public school system is abhorrent; and the state has one of the nation’s lowest per capita spending in mental health. Texas can sometimes be like a whole other country – a third world one with more money than good sense. Which takes me back to Abbott.
You and I both know that he is poking fun with this campaign. If it isn’t immediately obvious, he ran these ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal in New York City and Albany rather than rural areas like Allegany, where his message might be taken seriously. The whole thing was simply a demonstration of Texas-style bravado in an arrogant attempt to gain Abbott a seat at the national political dinner table.
Like when he appeared on Lou Dobbs on January 15, “it is tongue in cheek, but there is a deeper message here,” he said. “Texas really does stand as the last bastion of ultimate freedom in this country. Over the last decade, more than 4 million people moved to this state, and one reason is freedom and one reason is economic opportunity.” He then went on to echo a sentiment I have heard too much of recently, “why can some have armed guards, but not regular people.” And by “some” I can only assume he means “those elitists” who seek to do something over nothing. It takes me miles beyond embarrassment when an elected official from my state chooses to deliver paid-for and politically motivated sarcasm to an audience only a short drive away from a place where twenty tiny graves are still fresh.
Know that we don’t all fit the image that Abbott puts forth and regret that his mildly witty, yet tone-deaf campaign makes us out to be gun-crazed fanatics. And some of us actually embrace what it is to be Texan, but have higher aspirations for this place we call home. Clearly Abbott has aspirations of his own, like perhaps a gubernatorial run in 2014. You can’t always see it, but things are changing down here. Maybe it has to do with the millions of people from elsewhere with their different ideas that are moving here day after day along with the growing cultural diversity of our communities. As the tide shifts, I believe these forces will bring about a broader, more balanced definition of liberty among my fellow statesmen. Voices like Abbott’s will inevitably be drowned out by reason and I hold out hope that his recent tongue-in-cheek exhibition will become his stark reality.
Amber, a Middle-Class White Girl from Texas
I held this letter for weeks, unsure of whether to publish it here or not. Then, I heard that the freshman Senator Ted Cruz (R) from Texas wished to bring a gun to the Senate floor today (for demonstrative purposes), but was unable to do so because assault weapons are banned in the District of Colombia. Upon hearing this, I dug the letter out again. These people may represent me, but they don’t represent my views or my vision for Texas or this country. If I want change, I need to speak up. Starting now.
This is the first post in a series I call “Only in Texas.”
Oh, but wait there is more…
No doubt, the holiday-adorned longhorns are hilarious. I wonder how often this vehicle sees some off-road action. I suspect, never. Another clue is the “I *heart* my wife” bumper sticker. Either this man has not one ounce of backbone or has had one too many indiscretions. Maybe it is this same wife that went to town on these decorations to ensure no woman would come near her man.
If so, it is highly effective.