Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed 23 bills last week and according to an article by Mike Ward on the Austin Statesman website “a statewide ban on texting while driving was among [them]”. The state already has a ban on texting for people 18 or younger while driving. It also bans texting for all age groups while driving through a school zone. But Perry felt there was no need to ban texting people older than 18 in general. According to Ward’s report, “Perry said that texting while driving ‘is reckless and irresponsible’ but that he saw the bill as ‘a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults’.
Two Republicans, Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland and state Sen. Glenn Hegar from Katy, sponsored the bill but evidently they are not in line with the Tea Party philosophy of Perry’s that sees such restrictions as efforts to micromanage adults. Perry seems to have no problem micromanaging adult women who choose to have an abortion by signing into law a bill that forces a women to either see a sonogram of the embryo before they have the abortion or at least be expected to listen to their doctor describe the image if the woman refuses to view it.
On the other hand, he seems to be in unison with most other Texans that want to restrict drinking alcohol while driving by adults or teens. I’m sure he does so like the rest of us who see alcohol influencing a driver’ ability to react normally while operating a moving vehicle. But why would he think adults are unable to drive safely drunk but will have no problem being distracted while reading and sending text messages?
Governments exist in part to enact laws that “micromanage” most people almost everyday. We have speed limits and traffic ordinances in place, pedestrian and vehicular, for the public safety. We restrict commercial establishments from selling alcohol after 2am with the intent of reducing drunk driving fatalities. During droughts local governments impose restrictions on watering. There are many restrictions on noise by businesses and party goers. We don’t limit THESE necessary restrictions to minors; all ages are expected to endure this form of micromanaging. But somehow Perry thinks that restricting adults from texting while driving is stepping over the line.
Vetoing this bill is an example of the extreme view held by many Tea Partiers who always perceive government as some foreign entity rather than as an expression of concerned citizens. I have no objection to people who don’t want to feel the oppressive weight of some distant government bureaucrat in their daily lives but we no longer live in isolated enclaves on the Texas prairies.
Our booming population creates conditions that warrant some measure of control so one person’s “liberty” doesn’t violate another’s. Likewise, as our technology advances and creates new problems with old practices, we need to adapt new measures to fit this change.
It’s amazing that Perry gets away with stuff like this since he really isn’t all that popular in the state. Texas is one of several states that doesn’t have run-offs in state elections if there is no winner who has better than 50% of the vote. In the 2006 race, Perry garnered less than 40% of the vote in a field of four. With the aid of the white vote and the anti-Obama mood generated by the Tea Party in 2010, Perry did gain a 55% plurality over his Democratic and only opponent, Bill White. But many saw it as the lesser of two evils choice rather than a strong mandate for the arrogant governor with recent polls showing his approval rating hovering only slightly above 50%. It also says something when 61% of Texans don’t think he’ll be a good President.
Many within his own Party were angered when he attempted in 2007 to mandate “that Texas girls receive HPV vaccine that protects against some strains of the human papilloma virus, a cause of cervical cancer.” In 2001 he also drew the ire of voters and property owners, especially with those in areas that ran parallel with I-35, where he proposed to build the Trans-Texas Corridor with partially private funding from Cintra, a Spanish-owned company, who would in turn then receive ALL toll proceeds, eliminating a source of revenue for future Texas infrastructure construction.
I know Governor Perry would rather travel around the country and the globe on the taxpayers’ dime promoting himself as the state’s champion to attract new businesses and also stop in at political gatherings to drop hints about a run for the Presidency. He would also rather have God fix whats broken in Texas, creating a warm and fuzzy feeling for the religious right rather than making the tough decisions needed to address a deficit he in part helped create by reducing property taxes needed to fund education in the state. His claims about job creation in the state are also bogus as Texas leads the nation in minimum wage jobs rather than decent living-wage jobs where people can save and purchase affordable health care coverage. “We’re all Wal-Mart greeters now!”
It doesn’t take courage to appease the anti-government crowd here in the state. They are after all the one class of Texans that benefit from what bills Perry does approve as he allows big business to have its way with our resources, our health and wages. Let’s just hope none of them get injured or killed by a hunter with a deer strapped across the hood of his Hummer as he’s texting his buddies about the ten-pointer he just bagged.