Texas Politics

Dan Patrick is right, but is he correct?



Few politicians these days, in Texas or elsewhere, have wrapped themselves in the flag of Jesus Christ more than the new lieutenant governor, Republican Dan Patrick.

A campaign website was called “Stand For Christ – Dan Patrick for Lieutenant Governor.”

“I placed ‘In God We Trust’ in the State Senate,” boasts the conservative radio talk show host, who will preside over the body in which he’s served for eight years. “I placed ‘Under God’ in our State Pledge.”

Last June, Patrick told a Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering in Washington, D.C., that it was “God’s will” he beat incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the May 27 Republican primary runoff.

America’s policies, he said, must be grounded in the Bible. He told the Faith group that he started every campaign appearance by saying, “’I’m a Christian first, I’m a conservative second, and a Republican third.

“If our party ever turns our back on the word of God or the principles of Ronald Reagan, I will become an independent,” Patrick said. “And this is the key to the future of our party, the future of our country and the future of this nation.”

He won, he said, because “We never backed up from being bold for Jesus Christ. And, most importantly, we worked hard, and we left the victory to God…

“If you really believe God, then you take him at his word that he’ll handle the victory. And if you’re in the middle of God’s will, then that’s where you’re supposed to be.”

During the one campaign debate he agreed to with Democratic opponent Leticia Van de Putte Sept. 29, she repeatedly pressed him about his support of helping balance the 2011 state budget by cutting $5.4 billion in public school funding.

That cost thousands of teacher jobs, she pointed out. Patrick talked around the subject at first, but finally pushed back.

“This idea that I voted against education funding? Yup. She’s right,” Patrick said. “Conservative Republicans decided not to raise your taxes.”

He called criticism of the cuts a lot of fuss over nothing. “The world didn’t end,” he said. “And our education system moved forward.”

In June, Patrick told the Faith and Freedom Coalition audience that he weathered campaign challenges by telling himself, “If the Lord wants me to win, I’ll win, and if not, that means he has something else he wants me to do.”

In the book of Matthew in the Bible’s New Testament, Jesus thanks his disciples for supplying needed food, drink, clothing, and visits, when he was sick or in prison.

The puzzled disciples indicated they hadn’t remembered doing that for Jesus.

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40, New International Version).

That’s the essential question some Christians ask by wearing a bracelet inscribed “WWJD.”

That’s shorthand for “What Would Jesus Do?” — a reminder for making choices throughout the day.

Against that backdrop, here are some of the things Patrick apparently thinks Jesus wants done by the Legislature: • Cut taxes – except the most regressive, the sales tax — which he’s mentioned maybe raising.

• Spend less on public education, and siphon off tax dollars for vouchers for private and religious schools.

• Change the Senate’s tradition of requiring a two-thirds vote to bring up legislation, by dropping it to 60 percent. That would keep the Democrats, whose numbers have dropped to just 11 of the 31 senators, from being able to block bills.

• Prevent illegally crossing from Mexico into Texas, by spending tax money for border security “at the highest level we’ve ever funded it.”

•Lower tuition rates at Texas public colleges.

• Except, that is, for non-citizens. Patrick wants to raise their cost by shutting down the socalled Texas DREAM Act. It allows high school graduates who have lived in Texas at least three years to pay in-state tuition rates for college.

• (Gov. Rick Perry, who signed the act in 2001, charged in a 2011 presidential debate that “if you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”)

• Continue to resist expanding Medicaid, even though the feds would pick up almost all of the tab, and would insure an additional one million people.

Maybe the Holy Spirit will be present to help Patrick and other lawmakers figure out what Jesus would really do. God knows, it couldn’t hurt.

DAVE MCNEELY is a political columnist. You may contact him at davemcneely111@ gmail or (512)458 2963.

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