Sherry Sylvester


Inflation, Gas Prices, Drag Queens And Biden’s Sinking Poll Numbers

With inflation breaking records, gas prices pushing $10 per gallon and the border exploding with hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, President Joe Biden decided to issue an executive order to “enhance protections for transgender children and take steps to ban conversion therapy as efforts continue in Texas and other states to restrict gender-affirming medical care.”

“Gender affirming medical care” is a woke term that includes chemical castration and puberty blockers, as well as hormone injections from the opposite sex. It also includes actual castration and mastectomies that are not medically necessary. These irreversible and dangerous medical actions are more accurately described as “gender destroying.” They have nothing to do with care.

There’s no way to know what the president means by “conversion therapy” in this context, but it is clearly an effort to prohibit any restrictions by states like Texas against parents who want to experiment on their own children with dangerous “gender affirming” treatments.

Meanwhile, Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently appeared on a show where men dress up as women and mimic their speech and mannerisms — “RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars.”

Despite the insulting characterization of women by drag queens, which is increasingly being compared to minstrel black face by discerning feminists, Pelosi told the men dressed up and behaving as the most degrading female stereotypes that she wanted to thank them “for the joy and beauty you bring to the world.”

She added, “Your freedom of expression of yourselves in drag is what America is all about. I say that all the time to my friends in drag.”

Texas public school librarians apparently agree with the speaker that drag queens are what America is all about, because thousands of them attended a session on drag queen story hours at their recent meeting in Fort Worth.

They must have forgotten what happened in the Houston Public Library in 2019 when one of the drag queens brought in to read stories to children turned out to be a registered sex offender.

Drag queen reading programs in public libraries and public schools are increasingly common. Advocates describe them as a fun and harmless way to introduce children to the transgender movement.

Of course, most of America is not looking for a fun way to introduce their children to the transgender movement — which brings us back to Biden’s sinking popularity.

Gloria Romero, a Democrat and former U.S. House member from California, believes wokeism is part of Biden’s problem, at least with Hispanic voters.

After Biden’s approval dropped to 24% among Hispanics and Republican Mayra Flores’s historic South Texas victory, Romero said:

“We’re [Hispanics are] looking at the economy, we’re looking at approaches to immigration. We’re looking at language, my God. Here in California, among the Latino community, we not only celebrate Mother’s Day, we celebrate two Mother’s Days and the birthing people lingo doesn’t cut it for us.”

“Birthing people” is another woke term used to push the absurd notion that both men and women can deliver babies.

Setting aside the many ethical and public policy questions raised by Biden’s transgender executive order, let’s just look at the politics.

There’s no doubt about the fact that Biden has lost support across the board in every age, race and demographic category because of his destructive economic and border policies, but his approval rating is also at 39% because of what Romero said — the country is tired of having Democrat leaders like Biden and Nancy Pelosi push destructive and fringe behavior into the narrative as if it were normal.

Dealing with those who are suffering from gender dysphoria is not a gay rights issue — which most Americans support. Instead, Americans continue to view transgender issues as a medical and mental health challenge where it appears that drug treatments are not effective and can be damaging. We are seeing more and more stories of transgender adults who regret having had surgery in childhood.

Even if Biden manages to rein in inflation, lower gas prices and address the avalanche at the border, his base, particularly in the Hispanic community, will keep slipping away if he continues to be a megaphone for woke issues like “gender affirming treatment” for gender dysphoria victims. Most people are way ahead of him on this, and they just don’t buy it.

Sherry Sylvester is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. She is a political communications and public policy expert who has directed multi-million dollar statewide campaigns in New York and New Jersey and has been involved in dozens of Texas political campaigns.


Early Returns: No ‘Voter Suppression’ in Texas

Despite the hair-on-fire, gnashing of teeth and general screaming from Texas liberals about the end of democracy over last year’s election reforms bill—Senate Bill 1—last Tuesday’s primary election largely went off without a hitch.

There were some cherry-picked media reports and sanctimonious statements from the left insisting that some people who wanted to vote by mail were not able to because it was necessary to put either your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number on your ballot.

But according to the Texas Secretary of State, fully 95 percent of Texas’ 17 million plus registered voters already have both their drivers’ license and their last 4 digits on their voter registration, so it really wasn’t a problem for most voters.

There was a drop in mail-in ballots, but not because Democrat votes were being “suppressed.” About the same number of Democrats cast their ballots by mail this year as they did in the last gubernatorial election in 2018.  The folks who said no to mail-in ballots this cycle were Republicans. In the top 15 counties, Republicans who voted by mail dropped by 40%. Safe to say it’s unlikely those driving the voter suppression conspiracy will go looking for ways to ensure more Republicans vote.

Not that there weren’t election incidents.

In Harris County, a voter posted a video of an election judge telling a Republican that he couldn’t vote at the polling place he visited. It was only for Democrats. Similar incidents occurred in several places across the state because, despite what Democrats insisted during the debate over Senate Bill 1, it is difficult to find volunteers to serve as election judges.

But by in large, another election has passed and the left-wing, media-driven voter conspiracy theories have not panned out.

In fact, 6,000 Harris County Democrats and 4,000 Republicans can thank Senate Bill 1 for ensuring their votes will be counted this year. Because the Secretary of State’s office is now required to reconcile the number of votes cast in every county with the actual ballot count, they were able to let Harris County officials know that its ballot count was 10,072 short.  The ballots were identified and those votes are being counted now.

Ever since Photo Voter ID was passed in Texas in 2011, Democrats have insisted that Republican-backed laws to require standard identification was an effort to suppress the vote of Democrats—minorities, people of color and poor people—who they think are voting for them.

There is a big problem with their theory: math.

Voter turnout has skyrocketed since photo voter ID passed. In 2012, 7.9 million people voted. In 2020, 11.1 million voted—a 40% increase. Gubernatorial election turnout in Texas increased by 76% since Photo Voter ID passed. In 2012, about 58.6% of registered Texans voted and in 2020, 66.7% voted.

Voter ID is also popular. More than 80% of all Texans, which includes Democrats, support ensuring the common-sense requirement that people prove they are who they say they are in order to vote.

But don’t expect facts to get in the way of the left pushing voter suppression conspiracy theories. What else have they got?

On Tuesday, almost 900,000 more Republicans voted than Democrats. This fact alone does not bode well for Democrat prospects in November, although they never seem to try to figure out why they are losing. Those on the left just don’t understand that as long as they keep putting up anti-business, tax raising, pro-abortion, anti-gun candidates who hate the oil and gas industry, want open borders and support boys playing girls sports, the majority of Texans are not going to vote for them.

This is the same party that shut down the Texas House by decamping to Washington D.C. last summer in order to protest the election reforms that the majority of Texans supported—and were successfully implemented last week.

Despite their threats, there was no election meltdown. Last spring, 95% of Texas voters told a Texas Association of Business Pollster that it is “easy to vote” in Texas. They undoubtedly still feel that way.

9th Street And Congress

Sarah Palin Didn’t Fire a Shot – and Nobody Died for the Dow

Ever since the Johns Hopkins report came out the other week, I have been waiting for headlines across the country to appear saying “Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was Right.”  Lockdowns had virtually no impact on COVID-19 deaths or infection rates.

On March 23, 2020, Lt. Gov. Patrick told Tucker Carlson on Fox News that as a person in the high-risk age group for Covid, he did not believe the country should sacrifice the economy or imperil the future of our grandchildren to protect seniors like himself by locking down. He made it clear he was only speaking for himself, and he repeatedly advocated seniors take every step necessary to protect themselves from exposure. But he said he was more afraid of the collapse of the economy than he was of dying. He told Tucker he’d spoken with other older Americans who agreed with him.

It only took minutes for the media and the left to accuse Lt. Gov. Patrick of telling older Americans that they should sacrifice their health or even die to keep businesses open. Media and the left across Texas and the rest of the country—and even in Europe—lambasted him, insisting that he’d said that old people should be sacrificed for the economy. They shortened the message to “Die for the Dow,” and it trended on Twitter. At the same time, the very same media was effusively praising then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was actually killing old people with his pandemic strategies.   

We are still calculating the costs of shutting down the economy—beyond killing businesses and putting millions out of work. Staggering suicide rates, drug and alcohol addiction, mental health issues, delayed medical tests and treatments and the devastating impact on our schools and children are all part of the fallout from lockdowns that we now know were totally unnecessary.      

The media should have been asking the questions Johns Hopkins asked in its lockdown analysis from the first day the orders were proposed, but they didn’t. Instead, they presented Patrick and other leaders who opposed lockdowns as insensitive and hateful. President Joe Biden even accused lockdown opponents of “Neanderthal thinking.”  

So now the data shows that Lt. Gov. Patrick was right, who holds the media accountable? Judging from what happened at the trial last week, when former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin sued the New York Times, it looks like nobody. 

Like Lt. Gov. Patrick, the media accused Palin of being responsible for killing people. In 2017, after Congressman Steve Scalise and several other Republicans were shot playing baseball in Washington, D.C., the New York Times wrote an editorial headlined America’s Lethal Politics charging that Palin was at least partially responsible for the shooting:  

In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.

The Times deleted the line “the link to political incitement was clear” pretty quickly, and later it was forced to admit that the shooter had never seen the graphic in Palin’s PAC map. A recent report by the Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman notes that the paper admits its work was sloppy. It also said it had a policy to never apologize for errors. 

 That’s it. The official response from the national newspaper of record was to shrug it off with a “my bad.”  

Editorial Page Editor James Bennett said he hadn’t meant to imply that Palin had incited violence. 

So, in addition to the “my bad” shrug, the editor told the court that he didn’t really mean what he wrote. But the New York Times didn’t actually back down. Its editorial still suggests Palin, somehow, was responsible for the shooting; it just can’t prove it. Here’s what the “corrected” editorial that is posted online now says about it:

Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map that showed the targeted electoral districts of Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established. 

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff called the Times editorial an “honest mistake,” and he says he plans to throw the case out after the jury returns. 

 But, of course, it wasn’t honest and it wasn’t a mistake. The media routinely uses tactics like this to demonize individual conservatives. They use various forms of lying—hyperbole, twisting words, exaggeration, taking statements out of context or simply making things up. If they can concoct a charge that involves people being killed, that’s even better. 

National Public Radio (NPR) icon Nina Tottenberg reported recently that conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch refused to put on a mask when liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayer asked him too. The story noted that since Sotomayer has co-morbidities and is at a high risk for COVID-19, Gorsuch’s actions could kill her. However, both Gorsuch and Sotomayer issued a statement saying it wasn’t true. Obviously, Tottenberg either made it up or she published something she hadn’t confirmed. NPR is standing by the story. Apparently it has a “no apology” policy too.

 Palin is expected to appeal the judge’s decision to dismiss the case, but no one expects the New York Times to admit she was right, just like the media will never report that Lt. Gov. Patrick was right to oppose lockdowns early in the pandemic. It is ironic that the media calls challenges to the 2020 election “the Big Lie” when clearly, those in the media are the big liars, whether it be through their attacks on conservatives or conservative issues.

Here are just a few of the facts they continue to misreport. Photo Voter ID doesn’t suppress the vote. Turnout has increased since it passed.  Banning critical race theory doesn’t prohibit teaching about slavery and racism, it requires it. School choice isn’t for rich kids, it’s for poor kids, a proven way of obtaining better performance outcomes. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the media to report those facts. And don’t ever expect them to apologize when they lie.       

 TPPF’s Distinguished Senior Fellow Sherry Sylvester, has spent decades working at the nexus of public policy and politics. She began as a left-leaning Democrat on the East Coast but years of working closely with progressives pushed her to the right. After two decades in Texas, she is a committed to Keeping Texas Texan — a beacon of freedom and liberty, a center of innovation, and a major force in the global economy. Coming off a 17-year stint working around the Texas Capitol, including 7 years as Senior Advisor to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, 9th & Congress, presents her insights and updates on politics, policy, the news and history.

 In case you missed Sherry’s op-ed on the New York Times’ 1619 Project – America’s History is Not Black and White – you can read it here: 

Sherry’s op-ed on the transgender attack on women’s rights, you can read it here: Women’s Rights & Trans Rights 
9th Street And Congress

George Wallace, Bull Connor, Jefferson Davis & Me

The outrage over President Joe Biden’s ridiculous comments in Georgia last month lingers. Condemning those who oppose a federal takeover of state elections as racist was not a gaff. He was reading from a speech, which means that both the president and his team believe that the strong majorities of Texans in both parties who oppose federalizing elections are choosing the side of white supremacist segregationists like former Alabama Governor George Wallace, notorious Birmingham Sheriff Bull Connor and even Jefferson Davis, over Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. We rarely get a clearer statement of how little the progressive left knows about the American people.

There’s no shortage of Democrats who go around saying their conservative opponents are racists. We hear it from the media all the time, but somehow, it was more appalling to hear it coming from the White House. For those who remember who Wallace and Connor were, this insult is unforgivable.

The civil rights battles of the 1960s changed America and impacted everyone who lived through them. They didn’t end racism or hate, but Wallace and Connor did not win. Instead, we Americans who lived during those times know that while the country is not perfect, it is profoundly better and more embracing of difference and diversity. Everyone has their own story. Here’s mine.

I attended segregated schools in Oklahoma until my last couple of years in high school. There were only a few black families in the very small town where I grew up and their children were bused to an integrated school in the next town, seven miles away. Ironically, it was a bigger and better school than the one in our town, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a stigma to being bused out. It was always an awkward discussion when my sister and I were playing with the African-American girls who lived near us as to why they didn’t go to our school. I recall them saying little and just looking away.

My parents supported keeping the schools segregated, but they didn’t march or protest. My father was the mayor of the tiny town where I grew up. He was a veteran of the Great Depression and World War II and taking it to the streets on any issue was not in his DNA. He didn’t like marches.

While Bull Connor, the fat, hate-filled Alabama sheriff, became a symbol for violent white supremacy in Birmingham, my school was integrated with little fanfare. The girls we played with had moved away and there was only one mixed race boy in town who attended.
He was several years younger than me and I don’t recall ever talking to him, but I know his time wasn’t easy. He was being raised by a single mother and there was lots of speculation about the identity of his father, who was presumably white.

He played football—though he was not a star—and I recall hearing some kids making jokes about his skin color in yearbook photos. But the jokers were viewed as ignorant by the cool kids. I never saw a teacher tolerate any bullying or mistreatment, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. We still prayed a lot in public schools in those days and although the country and our town was bitterly divided over integration, we were never allowed to forget that meanness and hateful behavior are not Christian. Looking at old yearbooks, it appears he left town before he graduated.

I never heard my father echo George Wallace’s cry for “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever,” but Wallace was a Democrat, like my father, and shared a hatred for the Northeast elites who were running the country. Wallace ran for president a number of times and I recall my Dad supporting him, at least for a while, in one of his bids. During those same years, Biden bragged about his friendship with Wallace and accepted an award from him in 1973. Wallace’s last run for the White House was in 1976, when my Dad was backing Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.

A few years later, Dad threw his support behind Jesse Jackson’s presidential effort, both in 1984 and 1988. Dad told me that Jackson was the only candidate who was speaking for working people. The Democrats should have listened to my Dad. Jackson came in second in the 1988 primary that Michael Dukakis won—and it was a disaster for them.

I recall pointing out to my Dad at the time that he’d gone from being a Wallace Democrat to being a Jackson Democrat, but he didn’t think it was particularly notable.

My father detested Reagan and the Bushes. He voted for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. I had no luck convincing him to vote Republican either time and, had he lived, I am confident there is nothing I could have said that would have kept him from voting for Obama and celebrating the election of the first Black president.

Seeing this change up close in my family—and in the communities where I lived—makes me very skeptical of concepts like “systematic racism” and “structural discrimination” that comprise the phony premise of critical race theory.

My father was not unique. Most Americans—not all—have changed their thinking about race and so many other things, since the 1960s. Do hate and racism still exist? Absolutely. But is half of the country racist as Biden implied? No.

Perhaps the most heinous accusation Biden made in Georgia was suggesting those who disagree with him on a federal election takeover are on the side of Jefferson Davis, the traitorous former president of the rebellious confederate states who led the charge to take up arms in revolt against the union. What a hateful and irresponsible thing to say.

My Dad did not know Jefferson Davis, of course, but like many who fought in World War II, he was the grandson of a Civil War veteran. His grandfather fought on the Union side, coming in with the troops behind Sherman for the occupation of Atlanta. The Civil War was not distant history for him, it was family history.

Biden’s “Wallace, Connor, Davis” statement may be a fatal blow to Democrats because everybody has stories like this. People like me remember what the country was like in the 1960s, compared to what America is like today. We know what “voter suppression” looks like and we know that it is not requiring a photo ID to vote or a signature on your mail-in ballot, actions that have broad support among all Americans, including Latinos and African Americans.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Biden’s federal election takeover bill failed. It is hard to know why Biden pushed so hard for legislation that so many Americans oppose. The President’s sanctimonious preaching about Jim Crow 2.0, suggesting that nothing has changed in America since the civil rights movement or even the Civil War destroyed whatever shred of credibility he had left. Most Americans already know Biden has to go, but whoever wrote that speech for him should be fired now. 

For Texas,

9th Street And Congress

Thomas Jefferson statue removed from New York City Hall

New York City hauled the 884-pound statue of Thomas Jefferson out of City Hall recently because city leaders said the statue “shouldn’t exist” and that Jefferson should be forgotten. I can understand New York progressives forgetting that Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence but it is surprising that they don’t remember that this Founding Father also brokered the deal that made New York City the financial capital of the nation. Didn’t they see Hamilton?

New York City does dumb things like this routinely and I bet most New Yorkers have just about had enough of it. I lived in New York City in another lifetime and I have seen this movie before. Even the names of some of the characters are the same.

In the 1980’s New York City was overrun with crime—murder, robbery, and drugs. The filthy streets stank, the city was broke—taxes were high and services were non-existent.

I came to New York City as a left-wing liberal, what we would call a progressive today, and the people running the city were people I knew and agreed with.

Mario Cuomo, father to former Gov. Andrew and infamous former CNN Host Chris, was governor. The Democratic majority of voters who elected him were very upset about all the crime. To demonstrate that he wasn’t a bleeding heart, Cuomo imposed mandatory sentences for drug users. His move didn’t solve the drug problem, but it did fill up the prisons, so he built a lot of new prisons all over the state. Most of them were many hours from New York City, making it virtually impossible for families to visit incarcerated family members. Cutting off family connections made rehabilitation almost impossible.

I started working for a liberal prison reform group shortly after I arrived in New York City and I soon got a call from the New York Times asking for a comment on Cuomo’s criminal justice policies. I told the newspaper Cuomo’s mandatory sentencing and prison policies were costing the state and the city millions and not making a dent in the crime problem.

By the time I got back to my office, it was reported to me that then-Gov. Cuomo had called the chairman of the board of the group I worked for and asked him “who the f***” I thought I was.”

My colleagues just shrugged and apologized—to the governor, not to me. I was pulled aside and told bluntly that Gov. Cuomo was a bully and it was not wise to cross him.

Sound familiar?

Long-time New York City Mayor Ed Koch, was popular but his tirades and narcissism—including his on-going tabloid war with Donald Trump—had gotten old for most New Yorkers. The City’s problems—the crime, the taxes, the waste and the mismanagement—had become chronic. People were exhausted by it.

David Dinkins was a low-energy politician and there was no evidence that he had a plan to change things, but he was somebody new and that was enough to convince people he represented change. At a minimum, he was calm and soft-spoken and I knew he would lower the noise level in City Hall, so I went to work on his campaign. After Dinkins beat Koch, I took a job in his administration.

But a change in tone wasn’t enough. New York City only got worse. In addition to bankruptcy, the City was experiencing four simultaneous epidemics—AIDS, low-birthweight babies, asthma and tuberculosis. Crime and homelessness skyrocketed, hospitals and public schools were both failing, the city bureaucracy was riddled with corruption and New Yorkers were walking the streets every day barraged by homeless people who were living on streets littered with garbage bags.

Finally, it got so bad that the unthinkable happened—New York City elected a Republican mayor. Then as now, there were barely enough registered Republicans in New York City to make a blip on a chart, but Rudy Giuliani, the GOP U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, defeated Dinkins’ re-election bid.

New Yorkers had finally had enough and they were tired of hearing Dinkins and Cuomo say that they only way things could get better would be higher taxes and a massive federal bailout.

Like every New Yorker, I noticed a difference almost immediately after Giuliani took office. The garbage was picked up and street crime dramatically declined. He privatized the hospitals (which had been city owned) and they got the epidemics under control. You could walk down the street without being accosted by panhandlers. Police reforms finally began without creating a union war. Zero-tolerance policies were controversial, but they worked.

Giuliani’s transformation of the city changed a generation of New Yorkers. They were still Democrats but they didn’t elect another Democrat to lead the city until the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, took office.

I am sure it is not lost on older New Yorkers that the same problems they had with Koch and Dinkins returned with de Blasio. That’s undoubtedly why they rejected progressive mayoral candidates this fall and instead elected a retired police officer, Eric Adams.

It wasn’t lost on me either. People often ask me how I became a movement conservative after years working as a progressive Democrat. While there was never a “road to Damascus” moment, seeing the turnaround that occurred in New York City under conservative leadership created some huge cracks in my liberal ideology.

When I see so many great American cities today, like San Francisco and Austin, that are being ruined by liberal policies, I recall what happened in New York and it gives me hope.

When the failure of left-wing progressive policies are in your face everyday—when they’ve wasted your tax dollars, ruined your downtown, mismanaged services, and told you to do stupid things like forget Thomas Jefferson, ultimately voters who will finally say “enough!” We’re beginning to see some changes across the country and I am betting we are going to see more.

For Texas,


TPPF’s Distinguished Senior Fellow Sherry Sylvester, has spent decades working at the nexus of public policy and politics. She began as a decidedly left-leaning Democrat on the East Coast but years of working closely with the left-wing pushed her to the right. After two decades in Texas, she is a committed to Keeping Texas Texan — a beacon of freedom and liberty, a center of innovation, and a major force in the global economy. Coming off a 17-year stint working around the Texas Capitol, including 7 years as Senior Advisor to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, 9th & Congress, presents her insights and updates on politics, policy, the news and history


Women’s Rights v. Trans Rights: Where Are the Feminists?

In the successful fight to pass Senate Bill 3 in Texas protecting girls’ sports, conservatives were repeatedly told by their opponents on the left that we were tilting at windmills. Trans men were no threat to female sports, we were assured; the legislation we were pushing was a “solution in search of a problem.” Conservatives who pushed to protect sports for women and girls were accused of being transphobic. 

But ask girl swimmers in Pennsylvania what they think about the recently transitioned person who is shattering women’s records in the Keystone State. 

In 2019, when conservatives were working to pass privacy legislation to ensure that boys would not be permitted to enter girls’ restrooms in public schools, leftists and the media again insisted that we were provincial prudes. When Texas state senator and former NCAA champion athlete Lois Kolkhorst declared the bathroom battle “the women’s rights issue of our time,” almost no Texas media outlet reported it. The media ignored dozens of reports of women being attacked by men in public restrooms and changing rooms in Texas.

Similarly, the media ignored what helped spark a triumph of parental rights in the Virginia gubernatorial election. A girl was raped in a school restroom by a boy wearing a skirt.  School officials said that they didn’t know whether to confront him because he might have been a “trans” person. 

In Texas, our legislation to protect sports for women and girls is described by the media as “disqualifying” of boys rather than affirming girls. News reports say that the bill “excludes” those who say that they are girls – instead of noting that the bill protects actual girls.

Which brings me to my question: Where are the feminists? Having fought in the second wave of women’s rights in the 1970s, I do not understand why today’s American women’s movement has been so quick to give those hard-won rights away – to say, essentially, that if a male is suffering from gender dysphoria and thinks that he’s a girl or woman, we should just go along with that. 

Body dysphoria leads to life-threatening bulimia and other diseases, but gender dysphoria should be enabled, even encouraged – at least, according to the left, which believes that parents should be permitted to authorize life- and body-changing hormone treatments, and even surgery, for their children, not recognizing that these actions are irreversible and clearly child abuse. This is a horrible disservice to the victims of gender dysphoria. It is also a setback for women’s rights.

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, has joined with many European feminists in stepping up and saying the obvious: that sex is a real, biological fact. It is scientifically certifiable, not something that is arbitrarily “assigned” at birth and written on one’s birth certificate. Rowling has attracted the ire of the trans movement because she dared to question the terms “people who have a cervix,” “people who menstruate,” or “people who can become pregnant” as substitutes for the word “women.” 

Similarly, a left-wing British MP, Rosie Duffield, has drawn a line in the sand. Duffield is saying what many feminists have apparently been afraid to say: that most men are stronger than most women. Too often, that reality can be a threat to women. We ought to be able to go to the restroom – where, unlike men, we must partially undress – without being afraid.

Which brings us back to the swimmer who just smashed all the women’s swimming records in Pennsylvania. Texans know that this is unfair, and they don’t want any part of it. 

A full 58% of Texans strongly support legislation that would require high school and middle school students to compete in sports associated with their biological sex. This includes 75% of whites, 64% of Latinos, and 63% of African-Americans. It includes almost half of Democrats, over 90% of Republicans, and 73% of Independents. And while 82% of my generation – the Baby Boomers – support the legislation, so do 63% of Millennials, 69% of Gen Xers, and 54% of Generation Z. 

Back in the 1970s, a battle cry for many of us in the women’s movement was that “the personal is the political.” I’ve long abandoned that motto, but in this case, it has some relevance, as we are watching our rights as women being given away to men. On this issue and many others, Texas conservatives are standing up for women, but I ask, again: Where are the feminists?

Sherry Sylvester is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and former senior adviser to Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.


Critical race theory bans protect our history and students

If the public had been largely unaware of the pervasiveness of critical race theory in America’s public schools, the shock waves of Virginia’s election have made sure people, particularly parents, are now paying attention.

The Texas Legislature joined several other states and passed an anti-CRT bill earlier this year. To fight back, proponents of the controversial concept have scrambled to downplay its impact and launch attacks against efforts to ban it in schools.

An overwrought editorial in the Houston Chronicle is typical of these assaults on CRT bans. Opponents claim that the legislation frightens teachers into teaching a whitewashed history of America. But this is factually and demonstrably untrue. If only they would read the bill.

The items some claim won’t be taught in Texas schools, such as the evils of slavery and the role of government in upholding that unholy institution, are taught because state law specifically mandates that they be taught.

The new Texas rule on critical race theory, House Bill 3979, not only doesn’t ban teaching facts, but it reinforces that our full and accurate history, scars and all, should be taught. Specifically, the bill states that students should understand “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.”

Opponents of the law claim it says students should never feel “discomfort” from learning that, for example, Texas hero Jim Bowie owned slaves. Therefore, teaching this fact would be banned.

What the new rule actually says is that “a teacher … may not … require or make part of a course that … an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race or sex.” In other words, teachers can teach history, but they can’t require students to feel guilt as a condition of passing the class.

The teachings of CRT go beyond simply learning America’s history and, in fact, require white people to accept blame for all economic and social disparities experienced by people of color today.

That is what is being banned by the CRT bill — and for good reason.

Not only does CRT discriminate against white people, but it hurts minorities, too. It forces young black and Hispanic children to accept they will always be victims and that under our current system, there is nothing they can do to improve their lot in life. It also advocates lowered standards for minorities and strips them of agency. Teaching CRT is not just unconstitutional — it is demonstrably false and cruelly immoral. CRT has no place in our schools.

As for the laughable lie that CRT isn’t found in schools, of course it is . What’s more, liberals are demanding more CRT in public schools, and they want parents to shut up about it.

The new law protects speech, debate, and the free flow of ideas. It prevents students from being forced to accept controversial theories as a condition for advancement. And it helps empower parents to address and correct these illegal and unconstitutional activities in their schools.

On one thing, at least, we are in full agreement with the Houston Chronicle’s editorial board: “Hard facts about race and racism, about our flawed heroes or about our inability over the years to live up to our ideals of freedom, equality and justice are part of the Texas story. They’re not the only part, by a long shot, but a well-educated Texan needs to know them.”

We are sure, then, that members of that board will be relieved that those things are taught in Texas schools and will continue to be. If they have any questions, they can read the text of the bill itself .

Sherry Sylvester is a distinguished senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and a former senior adviser to Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Carol Swain is the distinguished senior fellow for constitutional studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and co-author of Black Eye for America: How Critical Race Theory is Burning Down the House.


America’s History Is Not Just Black and White

Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of the infamous 1619 Project, said recently that she didn’t understand why parents believe they should have a say in what their children are learning in school. She simply doesn’t get it. While most Americans agree that our children must learn the whole story of America, they oppose indoctrination and are outraged that the 1619 Project and critical race theory is showing up in our schools.

Hannah-Jones and The New York Times crowd that launched the 1619 Project three years ago have stopped fighting about whether their work is history.  After virtually every reputable historian in the country—on both the left and the right—called their work inaccurate and sloppy, they know they have lost that fight. Now they are fighting parents and conservatives.

These days Hannah-Jones and the Times carefully call 1619 a “journalism project” which apparently means it doesn’t have to be true.

Backing away from facts even further, Hannah-Jones has called the work an “an origin story.” She also says “…it is not about history, it’s about memory…”

Journalism, memory, whatever—1619 marches on. It is now a best-selling book and will soon become a movie. A children’s version has been released. 

No one who has read 1619 is confused about what it is—another left-wing, America-hating screed designed to divide us on race and to indoctrinate our children. 

The 1619 Project has always had a classroom component with teaching guides and lesson plans. It is being taught in thousands of classrooms across America now. The goal is for every school child in the country to be taught that America did not begin in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence, but instead was born in 1619 when the first Africans arrived in Virginia.

It presents all of American history in black and white. “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false,” Hannah-Jones writes, “Black Americans have fought to make them true.”

Of course, Americans of every race and creed have fought—and continue to fight—so our country lives up to the ideals laid out by the founders.  

1619 presents only two American stories—the black story and the white story. But American history is made up of millions of stories and we are learning more about those stories all the time.  

If Hannah-Jones were a historian writing real history, she would understand that what we know about our past is dynamic. It changes when real historians discover new facts that put the past in clearer focus and sometimes reverses what we thought was historical fact.  

When the British dug up Richard the Third in a parking lot in 2012, 500 years of English history had to be re-examined. Closer to home, when DNA finally confirmed in 1998 what Jefferson’s descendants had known and many people had believed for generations—that Thomas Jefferson had fathered Sally Hemmings’ children—it recast the way Americans, who may not have been paying much attention before, viewed our country’s founding and the leaders who forged the nation.  

The Jefferson-Hemmings story was not a surprise. Long before The New York Times put out the 1619 project, Americans knew that Jefferson, Washington and other Founding Fathers, despite the great country they had built, were also slaveholders who had exploited the evil of the institution they were perpetrating. By the 1960s, American children were learning in school about slavery and the long road to freedom, from Reconstruction to Jim Crow to the struggles that continue today. Despite their insistence that 1619 advocates teaching history accurately, contemporary history classes discarded “whitewashed” views of the past and phony excuses for the Confederate rebellion decades ago. 

Jefferson’s DNA test inadvertently ushered in a new way of looking at history that changed the way we see ourselves. His story was part of what moved millions of Americans to want to know more about who their own ancestors were. Inexpensive DNA tests have allowed millions of Americans to look more closely at their genetic ancestry resulting in a 276 percent jump in the number of people who reported identifying with more than one racial group in the 2020 Census. According to Pew Research,  easy access to DNA tests have given Americans a much broader perspective on who they are and where they come from. Almost 20 percent report finding racial links they were not aware of. These findings are expanding what we know about America’s past. 

Writing history requires collecting facts and painstakingly stitching them together to build something that gets us closer to the truth of times past. It is not memory or myth and it is certainly not a politically driven agenda pretending to be a “journalism project.”  

Real history is the exact opposite of The New York Times 1619 Project and Americans have rejected it. When it comes to history, they want so much more.   

Sherry Sylvester is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Texas  Public Policy Foundation.



9th Street And Congress

Most Texans Support Election Law

Shortly after public poll results were released last week that a majority of Texans support Senate Bill 1, the fair election legislation, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit in a federal court challenging the law. Apparently, DOJ believes their mission is to protect Texans from legislation that most of them say they want.

Not that poll results showing broad support for SB 1 wasn’t big news. This headline screamed across my hometown paper in San Antonio last week and also showed up in Houston.

The implications were immediate:

If a poll conducted by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston and the Barbara Jordan – Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University showed that most Texans support the Senate Bill 1 — the Election Reform Legislation that passed in the second special session this year, that means the Democrats who walked off the Texas House floor in June and shut down the Texas legislature were not speaking for the majority of Texans, as they insisted. They weren’t even speaking for a good chunk of the people who elected them. Instead, they were speaking for a minority of the minority.

The “Most Texans Support Election Reform” headline was like headlines we have become accustomed to seeing the day after November elections when Texans have been told for months that the conservatives who are governing the state are so unpopular that they will be voted out of office — the House will flip — the Congressional delegation will be replaced.

It never happens. Apparently, those who actually believe it will happen have a huge misunderstanding of who the people of Texas are.

Going beyond specific issues like support for the Election Reform Bill or the long-standing track record of Texans electing conservatives to run the state, there’s much more to know about the 29 million Texans whose families have either been here for hundreds of years as well as those who just unpacked their U-Haul from California last week.

One thing we know from focus groups and other available data is that Texans – regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, or political ideology – are proud of being Texan. Most say that the thing they are proud of is that our state is a place that does things right – the cost of living is low, jobs are plentiful, families flourish here. Texans are proud of our state’s reputation for independence – as well as the deep roots of our diverse population. We value both freedom and faith and, for the most part, we like each other.

Which is why the polling results were not surprising – or they shouldn’t have been. Despite the lawsuits and media outrage when it became law, 85% of Texans believe it is perfectly appropriate to be asked to show a photo ID before you cast a ballot. Three-fourths of Anglos, 64% of Latinos, and 63% of African Americans also believe that public high school and middle school students should only compete in sports associated with their biological sex. And when it comes to elections, majorities support most every provision included in the elections reforms legislation – 82% agreed that ballot harvesting, which has a long, ugly history in Texas, should be made a felony and 74% support providing your driver’s license number on your mail-in ballot. Even the most controversial provision on the reforms – prohibiting drive-through voting – is supported by 59% of Texans who understand that voting requires the privacy of a voting booth. It can’t be done in a car full of people.

Headlines like “Most Texans Support Election Law” demonstrate a big gap between who Texans are and who the left and the media think they are. The conservative majority values life and liberty, they embrace opportunity and diversity – in short, they want to Keep Texas Texan. No one should be surprised that people with those values would want to ensure that every election is fair and honest to keep the state on the right track. The headline and polling results tell us something else the people of Texas value – common sense.


The problem with “Abortion Barbie”

“Abortion Barbie,” the jab directed at state Sen. Wendy Davis, made it to California recently when a passionately pro-life Texas woman paid for posters depicting Davis as a Barbie doll with a baby in utero to be posted around the Los Angeles neighborhood where Davis was holding yet another out-of-state fundraiser.

The term “Abortion Barbie” was originally coined by RedState Editor Erick Erickson to describe Davis’ over-the-top pro-abortion positions. Democrats wailed in outrage, saying the attack reeked of sexism and would hurt Republicans among female voters. They’re right that it’s sexist — the equivalent of a “dumb blonde” joke. But they’re wrong that it will do much damage among women who vote Republican. 

I’m a lifelong feminist and hate trite putdowns as much as the next woman, but I’m also a conservative Republican, and it’s virtually inconceivable that I could be persuaded to vote for a big-government-supporting tax-and-spender like Davis, no matter how much I identify with her sneakers.

But the smashmouth conservatives who are recycling the term “Abortion Barbie” should stop. It undercuts our message and credibility.

We Texas conservatives proclaim to be people whose principles are rooted in faith. If that’s true — and I believe it is — then we must demonstrate both the principles and the faith.  

There is no way for us to hold the moral high ground if our tactics include name-calling and sexist attacks, even though those tactics are often used against us. Instead, we have to be who we say we are. 

Democrats may be as committed to their own faith as we are, but they have consciously decided not to include faith in their political story. Remember the boos at the 2012 Democratic National Convention when it was proposed that a reference to God be restored in the party platform?

By contrast, we conservative — most of us Christian — Republicans make a point of bringing our faith with us when we enter the public square. We think it’s a good thing.

When we do that, we must hold ourselves to the standard of behavior that is required of Christians — to love our enemies and do unto others as we would have them do unto us. 

I’m not a biblical scholar, but I’m pretty sure there’s no loophole in the Golden Rule for politics.

This does not mean that in the seemingly endless battle for the hearts and minds of Texans that we do not hit back or give as good as we get, and then some. We cannot abandon the basic tenet of political war — that no shot go unanswered.  But we do not have to answer tit for tat. We have to be better. 

Granted, it’s not easy. Our liberal opponents frequently litter their arguments with name-calling and condescension, for which they often get a pass.

You will recall there was no particular outcry of sexism when Sarah Palin was called “Caribou Barbie.”

Recall also the behavior of the women who showed up at the Capitol in support of Davis’ pro-abortion filibuster last year. If you think they were a tolerant group of young women who were simply passionate about an issue, then you weren’t there. They were hateful, in the true sense of the word — filled with hate for the legislators who disagreed with them. Their contempt was echoed on the Senate floor when Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, now the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, delivered a cheap shot suggesting that she was being ignored by the chair because she is a woman. Her crowd-pandering and opportunistic comment has become part of her narrative, even though it wasn’t really true. Virtually everyone was being ignored.    

Democrats are so hopelessly behind in Texas that they often flail madly, trying to strike some kind of chord with voters. Their fast-talking spokesmouths have adopted sarcasm and hatefulness as a communications strategy, hoping they might somehow manage to climb out of the mid-40s in polls by November. Hard to blame them, given their desperation.

The conservative communication job is harder. We are the majority, and we are the people of faith. The onus is on us to lead with our principles. 

I’m in no position to cast the first stone. Last session, I stood outside a particularly maddening committee hearing in which outnumbered Democrats rambled on for hours, alternating between falsehoods, hyperbole and cheap shots.

I asked the conservative Republican committee chairman afterward how he managed to remain gracious in the face of the Democrats’ deliberately obstructive behavior.

“I just keep loving on ’em,” he said.

It seemed to me that punching out a few lights was a more appropriate response, and I said so.

“Just keep loving on ’em,” he repeated, smiling. “It confuses them.”

So there you have it. Follow the Golden Rule. It’s not only a top commandment, but it can be a good political strategy, too.