Fritz Lieber’s largely forgotten 1969 novel A Specter is Haunting Texas is one of my favorite examples of science fiction as political satire. If you enjoyed the films Ideocracy or C.S.A. The Confederate States of America, then this send-up of everything absurd about how Anglo-Texans conceived their collective identity in the mid-20th century, the novel is a fun read. The tragedy is that so much of what Lieber ridiculed still resonates. What haunts the Brobdingnagian staatsvolk in Lieber’s future Texas is what haunts today’s real Lone Star State Republicans: the loss of their ethnocracy. Demography is no more their friend than is democracy.
The population of Texas is changing. Increasingly Hispanic and Asian, it is also increasingly younger, urban, and growing because of migration from solidly Democratic northern states. There just aren’t enough older, rural whites to maintain ethnic hegemony. Rather than expand the Republican electoral base, they have even alienated potential minority party voters like those in the ideologically conservative Vietnamese community. Ethnocracies facing demographic challenge may try to put off the day of reckoning by recruiting subordinate ethnic allies as Israeli Zionists have with the Druze and Falasha. Not the Anglo-Texans, though. Too little room in the bunker.
The voter suppression bills now working their way through the Texas legislature would impose even more restrictions on the right to vote that are, by one measure, already the most restrictive in the country.
Rather than a ‘one apartheid size fits all’ approach, Republican state lawmakers have precision designed voter suppression legislation to discourage electoral mobilization by specific minorities and wrapped in appeals to the white Right populist delusion that 2020 general election was stolen. Native Americans were the primary target in Arizona and African Americans in Georgia. Hispanics are the primary target in Texas.
The voter suppression bill likely to arrive on Governor Greg Abbott’s desk will almost certainly ban both 24-hour voting and drive-thru voting. Harris County (Houston). Covid-19 pandemic. Now the politically innocent might think that the stereotypic Texan would appreciate voting in the wee hours and/or without getting out of his F-150. From the perspective of Republican lawmakers, however, these sensible measures were much popular with Harris County minority voters in 2020. Turnout in the county in 2020 was the highest it had been since 1992. That really got the attention of the Remember the Alamo crowd.
The legislation is also likely to include additional authority for party poll watchers. Conspiracy minded Republicans convinced of Democrats, liberals and unnamed Others probably on the payroll of George Soros conspired to steal the presidential election from the New York City con-artist they think is their political messiah. Because nothing says DEMOCRACY like paranoid whites suffering from school crossing guard syndrome glaring at and video-taping non-white voters in polling places. The obvious purpose of poll watchers is intimidation, the smoking gun for which is the video released by Common Cause in which an unnamed Harris County GOP precinct chair saying, recruiting an “election integrity brigade” of 10,000 suburban Republicans with the “courage” to deal with election fraud “down here.” The “down here” meant non-white neighborhoods of Houston.
Where the election fraud that obsesses Republicans is a vanishingly small phenomenon, there are serious problems with elections in the United States. Low voter turnout is most obvious. Americans have long been less likely to vote than the citizens of nearly every other wealthy democracy. Republicans are trying to exacerbate rather than ameliorate the problem because broadly inclusive participation does not work for them. They gave up on American democracy decades ago. All they are left with is an eroding ethnocracy.
The feature image of a ghost (ethnocracy, white supremacy, apartheid, immigration, non-European-white majority) is haunting Texas is a composite created by LikeTheDew.com using images licensed at Dreamstime.com using contributions from generous readers like you who clicked here and donated to sustain the dew – Ghost © Tartilastock, Texas © Bruce Works.