Thursday, July 11, 2013

An Attempt to Explain Louie Gohmert By a Former Resident of His Congressional District

With Michele Bachmann leaving Congress, no one seems more primed to take her crown as the most demented member of Congress than Texas Republican representative Louie Gohmert.  Unlike the rest of America, I knew of him well before his idiotic remarks and harebrained theories catapulted him into the public eye.  I had the misfortune to live in his district in East Texas for three years, and have come to the conclusion that he cannot be explained without understanding the electorate that puts him in Congress.

I am of the opinion that jerko politicians often represent the very worst of the regions they hail from.  For example, Chris Christie's loud-mouthed uncouth bullying exemplifies a certain mean streak here in the Garden State.  In his two-facedness, arrogance, and fast-talking torrents of bullshit, Anthony Weiner embodies the worst of New York City.  The aforementioned Michele Bachmann is a more photogenic version of the crazy-eyed fanatical Midwestern churchladies of my youth.  Rahm Emmanuel is the quintessential sharp-elbowed Chicago asshole on the make.  Much the same could be said of Gohmert, who combines the worst of East Texas in one person.

As much as I disliked my time in East Texas, I can readily acknowledge the good things about the state.  Hell, Austin and Houston are two of my favorite cities; too bad I was living in a reactionary rural 'burg. Wendy Davis' filibuster represented a lot of what I liked about Texas, mainly the large number of tough people who are willing to fight hard against long odds for progressive causes on hostile ground.  You will not find folks on the political left more clear-eyed and brave than in Texas; Molly Ivins and Ann Richards are probably the two best known examples of the type.

That said, a disproportionate number of Texans, especially behind the pine cone curtain in East Texas, are absolutely vile in their political, religious, and social outlooks, and not afraid to let other people know.  One church in Nacogdoches actually has its white supremacist interpretation of the Bible posted prominently posted on its website. Of course, plenty of churches implicitly hold such beliefs, but the culture of the area is so messed up that people feel free to say it openly.  The same town where the church is located only has a population of 30,000, but hosted a Tea Party rally in 2009 that numbered in the thousands.  Believe it or not, it's a college town, and probably the most liberal in the whole Congressional district, if by liberal you mean slightly to the left of George Wallace.

The place is just generally retrograde.  In the biggest city in the district, Tyler, you can't by booze, which reflects the cultural hegemony of evangelical fundamentalism.  Tyler still has a high school named after Robert E Lee.  Despite being a relatively small city, Glenn Beck was able to speak there and draw a huge, supportive crowd.  The same venue, the Oil Palace, also hosted large gatherings for Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity.  At the Beck event, a different Texas representative, Leo Berman, proclaimed "Obama is God's punishment on us."   If thousands in a small community will turn out and enthusiastically support dopes like this, is it any surprise that they would elect a complete dimwit like Gohmert?

And Tyler and Nacogdoches are sophisticated compared the more rural environs of East Texas, where the Klan is still active.  For years, police in Tehana routinely pulled over drivers for the crime of being black, and even shook them down for money.  Most horribly, Jasper was the site of the infamous dragging death of James Byrd.

In this place so full of overt racism, Christian dominionism, and general oppression those who are critical are completely ostracized.  They have so little power that Gohmert has been able to run unopposed on multiple occasions.  There are plenty of good people in this area who I had the pleasure to know, but they are outnumbered, outgunned, and constantly face severe ostracism and hostility from the squareheads who surround them.  There are some folks in the middle, too, but they just end up voting for whoever the Republicans put on the ballot, since they're just going with the cultural flow.  I've escaped living there, but I feel horribly for the large percentage of people whose interests are the polar opposite of the man who supposedly "represents" them.

In a democracy, elected officials reflect their electorate, and Louie Gohmert is no exception.


Anonymous said...

The thing that strikes me the most about this blog is Tebbe's complete lack of self-awareness. He is everything he claims to hate. He rails against prejudice, but repeatedly stereotypes midwesterners, Texans, the lower class, academics, Republicans, and Christians as evil and stupid. He criticizes academia as elitist, but complains that his former colleagues didn't recognize and acknowledge his genius. How often does he remind us that he had three articles and a book contract? Finally, he empathizes with the 99%, but works at a private New York City school that undoubtedly caters to the 1%. This blog reminds me of that saying: "If you meet a jerk in the morning, you met a jerk in the morning. If you meet jerks all day, then you're the jerk." I recommend to him the following article:

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

Trolls be trollin'.