Sherry Sylvester

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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.

https://thecannononline.com/early-returns-no-voter-suppression-in-texas/

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Source: TownHall.com 

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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.