Since politics has infected the discussion of public health and the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on human health and welfare, I want to offer a prize to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
The mayor has earned the prize for the most politically courageous act as Texas tries to reel in the impact of the pandemic.
Turner is a true-blue Democrat. He has just initiated a process he hopes will block the Texas Republican Party from staging its annual convention at the George Brown Center in Houston.
As you might expect, the Texas GOP has accused Turner of stepping on the party’s right of political expression. Turner, though, has put public health ahead of partisan point-scoring. The convention is expected to attract about 6,000 visitors to the Brown Center. They’ll be stuffed in there, exposing each other to potentially deadly viral germs.
Turner wants to prevent that from occurring in the city he leads. Can you blame him? I cannot.
The Texas Tribune reported this about the state GOP’s response:
Party Chair James Dickey responded later Wednesday, criticizing Turner for “seeking to deny a political Party’s critical electoral function” after the mayor recently allowed protesters to demonstrate there “without any of the safety precautions and measures we have taken.”
Dickey also said the party’s legal team was assessing the city’s ability to cancel the convention and weighing its legal options.
“We are prepared to take all necessary steps to proceed in the peaceable exercise of our constitutionally protected rights,” Dickey said in a statement.
I would expect the party leaders to invoke their “constitutionally protected rights.” Those rights, though, do not entitle them to put citizens in potentially dire harm if they attend this event, get sick and possibly die as a result.
Surely the state GOP deserves to have its voice heard. Why not do so during a “virtual” convention that doesn’t expose people to the effects of a potentially fatal viral infection?