Austin at Large: The Pleasure Is Not Ours, Sir
If GOP bad boys like Chip Roy dislike Austin so much, why not just leave us alone?
"I know what it's like to represent a very liberal city but then have God-fearing, solid, Trump-loving, flag-waving conservatives in [the] Texas Hill Country. Frankly, I take a great deal of pleasure in representing a place like Austin in that they have to grin and bear the fact that their congressman actually believes in the Constitution and freedom."
That was our friend Chip Roy, speaking at a fundraising event this summer for his friend Bob Good, the Virginia congressman who is to Charlottesville what Chip Roy is to Austin, a time-wasting show pony and attention whore who views his job in Congress as a prerequisite to getting on Fox News and making tasty floor speeches that go viral.
This particular spiel was sent to us by a long-distance fan who thought we might want to know what Chip Roy really thinks of his constituents. We kinda knew already, but thanks all the same! (The full video features lots more batshit about fentanyl smuggling and human trafficking and all the other madness going on right now in both Roy's Hill Country and Good's horse country, perhaps even at the very venue – we guess it's a winery? – where the Trump-waving, flag-fearing attendees groan loudly upon hearing Wendy Davis' name.)
One Big Juicy Blue District!
There's probably nothing we can do about Chip Roy now as he takes a great deal of pleasure out of neglecting and abusing his constituents. The good news is that fewer of you may be among them. Redistricting begins anew in earnest this week, and the smart money says we'll see a three-way split of Austin and Travis County, as we did when Tom DeLay began the GOP gerrymandering tradition in 2003, rather than the six-way one we got in 2011.
That attempt to crack Austin Democratic strength, with the one safe-D district stretching to the Alamo and presented as a "new" Hispanic opportunity district, did not succeed in ending Lloyd Doggett's career but ended up costing Chip Roy tens of millions of wing-nut and corporate dollars (thanks, Texans for Lawsuit Reform!) to beat back Davis' challenge last fall, one of several races made competitive by the inevitable Texas Democratic landslide that did not happen. Y'all know that story.
To avoid any future risk to Roy, or to Austin's other GOP congressman, Michael McCaul, we expect to see Doggett, or perhaps someone else, representing many, many, many Austin Democrats in what might be Texas' biggest, juiciest blue district come 2022, as Roy and his Trump-flag-waving friends erect barricades and mount razor wire around their Western Travis County subdivisions. Ol' Apesh*t himself probably hasn't forgiven Chip Roy for not being down with overthrowing the government on his behalf on Jan. 6, but their differences seem to be matters of degree. Chip Roy also tried to shut down Congress while throwing a full-on tantrum over being asked to wear a mask, so they really are kindred spirits, him and Ol' Apesh*t.
Now, some of y'all might be thinking, "Hey, Lloyd Doggett is no stranger to TV cameras and tasty floor speeches that go viral, so cut Chip Roy some slack." That's true! Being in the opposition in the House, as Doggett has been for two-thirds of his time in Congress, gives you not a hell of a lot to do. But he still showed up, took a great deal of pleasure in his committee and constituent work, and did not pointlessly disrupt proceedings with outbursts of conspiracy theory to make The Base moist. And now he gets to make real change happen as his party crafts a multitrillion Build Back Better package.
Doggett's signature bill of recent years, which would effectively give cities and counties the right to expand Medicaid in direct partnership with the federal government, going around their dead-ender refusenik statehouses (of which Texas is, of course, the largest), is part of that package. He's doing something useful and not being a toxic bad boy! Is it really that hard, Chip?
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We're singling out Chip Roy because we have blessedly driven most of his fellow travelers in the GOP Bad Boy He-Man Wimmin-Haterz Club out of town, at least when the Lege isn't in session, which it will not be, someday. Even Alex Jones gets no residual neighborly love around here these days. Perhaps Reps. Vikki Goodwin and Donna Howard also take a great deal of pleasure making their Westside constituents irate by standing up for democracy, civil rights, reproductive rights, safe streets, public education, and what have you, but that's not really their jam.
The MAGAs west of town, when they're not also throwing tantrums over masks and threatening people at Lake Travis ISD School Board meetings, currently have to borrow legislators from other parts of Texas to turn their decadent ego injuries and lingering entitlements into statute; those calls are not coming from inside Austin's house. That may change, though! Travis County will almost certainly gain a House seat in redistricting; it'll be drawn either to make Goodwin's and Howard's lives miserable (perhaps pairing them in one Dem stronghold), or conversely to be as red as is possible in this county, and tailor-made for the bloviating likes of Don Zimmerman or Goodwin's 2020 opponent Justin Berry. Or if we're really having a good time, Travis County GOP Chair Matt Mackowiak, who despite his own caught-on-tape toxic behavior may get a soft landing even if his current Save Austin Now initiative gets hosed at the polls in November. Bad boys, bad boys, what'cha gonna do?