What’s up, around the nation? A lot. What’s up in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas? Not so much, or not so awful. So, more a matter of what’s not up. But . . . just wait.

What’s up? Oh, just at random  . . .

1) a Republican candidate in Arizona, brandishes an AR-15 in his campaign ad, fake-shooting what he claims are “Democrats,” depicted in white KKK hoods! (Charles Hilu, National Review, 7 Jul 22).

2) a Republican candidate in Missouri for Senate (and former Governor, who resigned in disgrace, over domestic abuse charges), Eric Greiten, appears in an ad with a “long gun,” says he is “hunting for RINOS,” a Trump-inspired term for “Republicans in Name Only,” meaning John McCain, meaning Mitt Romney, meaning moderates (Associated Press, 20 Jun 22) .

3) a Republican, William Braddock, in a competitive congressional district in Tampa, Florida, warns against support for the leading candidate, Anna Pauline Luna,  threatening her or any of her supporters with a “Russian-Ukrainian hit squad!” (Perhaps because of her gender, or ethnicity? We would have to get inside his crazed head to know.) 

4) so-called “Christian Nationalists,” often called “Dominionists,” claim they have a “biblically- derived” mandate to take control of all aspects of government and society. They demand state-funding of religious schools, reject the American tradition of constitutional separation of Church and State, (Katherine Stewart, “Christian Nationalists,” Warren Newsletter, 5 Jul 22). They positively adore the current US Supreme Court, post-Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.

5) and, to add to the mix, the Texas Republican Party platform includes a promise to convince the Republican controlled Legislature to secede from the Union. The last time that happened? A Civil War. 

So, nothing much going on, up state, out of state, except guns and craziness. Thank the Good Lord, nothing like that around these parts. Oh, wait! Or is there, are there? Stay tuned. 

Right next door. Brownsville, other towns in Cameron County, Texas: Winner of quickly called election for 34th congressional district seat, Mayra Flores. No previous offices or experience, but a “respiratory therapist.” (The former Democratic Representative, Filemon Vela, resigned, mid-term, to become a lobbyist). Flores had the endorsement of Governor Abbott and Senator Cruz. She had enormous campaign contribution advantage  (16 to 1), monies pouring in from Republicans all over the nation. Those outsiders, one supposes, intend to turn Mexican Americans and the Blue Valley Red. 

Flores has tweeted extreme right wing, QAnon hashtags, among them, a call for the impeachment of President Biden. Oddly, however, she has avoided many questions. Asked if she believed President Biden was legitimately elected, she demurred. She only repeated: “He’s the worst President of the U.S.“ (Brent D. Griffiths, “New GOP Representative,”, Business Insider, 6 Jul 22). Is she forgetting the previous president? What of her memory? Her judgment? 

Right next door, here in Hidalgo County, Texas, another right-wing Republican, Monica de la Cruz, faces Democratic challenger for the 15th Congressional district, Michelle Vallejo. De la Cruz’s campaign slogan was “Faith, Family, and Freedom,” as vague as it is cleverly alliterative. To date, to my knowledge, no one has posed the question for De la Cruz: “Do you believe Joseph Biden is the legitimately-elected President of the United States?” Ask her. It is to be seen whether she disavows QAnon or other quotes or hashtags associated with the extremists of her party. Let us hope the “Valley” retains its good reputation of moderation and sanity.   

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by José Luna, a pseudonym for a writer based in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The writer is a longtime South Texas resident, U.S. Army veteran, and world traveler. The column appears in the Rio Grande Guardian with the writer’s consent.

Editor’s Note: Credit for the main image accompanying the above guest column goes to iStock, and Rebecca Zisser/Insider.

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