Texas comedian Ron White is famous for a bit he does claiming you can’t fix stupid. He says there’s no class you can attend to alleviate it. He says there’s no pill you can take to cure it. “Stupid is forever,” he insists.
The bit gets lots of laughs, but here in White’s home state, it’s less and less funny—because we’ve been pretty stupid of late.
If that comes as news to you, let me bring you up to speed.
A little while back we re-elected a governor who refused to take part in a single debate. It was a preposterous antic that the majority of Texans stupidly overlooked. And stupid is the right word. Only a stupid electorate couldn’t have recognized the ploy for what it was: sheer shenanigans.
If you’re running for mayor of Lajitas and you’re a goat, you can get away with skipping campaign debates. But if you’re not a goat and you’re running for state governor, you can’t refuse to debate your opponents. It’s like calling yourself a cowboy but refusing to ride a horse.
At best, it was simply political calculation; at worst, it was cowardly chicanery. In either case, we were complicit.
We stupidly re-elected a stuffed haircut whose campaign highlight was gunning down an unarmed coyote. And if that wasn’t bad enough, his idiotic re-election success emboldened him to run for the highest office in the land.
Unfortunately for us and Governor Perry, you can’t win a presidential primary without participating in a debate. That dog may hunt in Texas, but it won’t hunt in other states where folks are a little brighter.
The 2012 Republican Primary was chockfull of ill-informed, asinine hopefuls, including Michelle Bachman, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain. But even in a field littered with that level of imbecilic company, our governor won the kewpie doll for top oaf.
It’s really no small accomplishment if you think about it.
Perry repeatedly distinguished himself as the candidate that was all hat, no cattle. He called Social Security a Ponzi Scheme. He forgot one of the three federal agencies he claimed he’d cut if he was elected. He rambled incoherently about taxes and 16th century Founding Fathers and hugged a bottle of New Hampshire pancake syrup as if it was little Baby Jesus. He committed gaffe after gaffe and became the doltish darling of late night television comedy skits.
He made a fool of himself and us. But his muddled Republican Primary showing inescapably says more about us than him. We allowed him to serve a 4th term without subjecting him to a proper vetting process.
Honestly speaking, the most pathetic part of Perry’s flameout on a national stage isn’t that he made Texas look bad. It’s that—truth be told—he was truly and genuinely representative of Texans in general.
There’s no use in trying to run from it. If thinking was our strong suit, we wouldn’t be letting the natural gas industry turn North Texas land into a hazardous industrial “fracking” experiment that threatens existing and future water supplies. And if debating was something that came natural to us, we wouldn’t have stood dimly by while the Texas State Board of Education watered down our textbooks to foster a narrow-minded, conservative version of history.
The bad news is, we’ve been out to lunch. The lights were on, but very few folks were home.
The good news is, with all due respect to Ron White, “stupid” doesn’t have to be forever.
As famous, onscreen simpleton Forrest Gump once put it, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
If we stop acting stupidly, voting stupidly and/or standing stupidly by while ulteriorly-motived shysters whisk ludicrous bills-of-goods past us, make political footballs out of our differences and pull the dead coyote wool over our eyes in terms of what it means to be a real Texan, then we can step off the geo-political short-bus and take our place among smart states with real vision. Of the future and for the future.
A recall of Texas’ dumbest son would probably be too much to ask. But we definitely need a change of intelligentsia in the next governor’s race.