If only Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s voracious appetite for a third term matched his political will in office, this upcoming cutthroat GOP primary could’ve been avoided.

Now that Col. Allen West (the former U.S. congressman and retired Army Lieutenant colonel) is in the race, Republicans nationwide better be paying attention.

The Lone Star State still evokes a special sense of Americana for much of the nation, but there is no question that the mythos isn’t quite what it once was.

Even before the state’s winter storm that killed 57, Texas’ star dimmed throughout much of the most hysterical Covid-19 timeline.

Governor Abbott has been playing catch up with not only Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., but even Gov. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., as well, with regard to the defining issue of the last 18 months: COVID-19 -its lockdowns and other consequences.

Abbott was by no means the last Republican governor to lift restrictions and a mask mandate, but it did take until March for him to do so.

Of course, Texas’ coronavirus numbers only improved from then on.

The last year had been political theater, with dire consequences for peoples’ wellbeing: mentally, physically, and economically.

This raises serious questions about Abbott’s leadership abilities, given that he’s been governor since 2015. Not to belabor the point, but he’d been the state’s attorney general for 12 years leading up to that time too.

How and why did Abbott get things so wrong?

COVID-19 wasn’t the only test of political will that Abbott failed. Not long after the winter storm passed, Abbott declared victory over the free speech social media site Gab.com, which he referred to as an “anti-semitic platform.”

What a foolish move this was, to curry favor with some special interests at the expense of Republican Party unity.

The state GOP had a Gab page.

After all, Gab is a popular platform for conservatives. It became that by offering something different than Big Tech’s censorship, the same sort of censorship and canceling that Abbott condoned by going after Gab.

The state party chairman at the time was Allen West, West has since resigned from the party leadership post, in order to pursue his campaign for governor.

West offers what Texas deserves, which is what Abbott can’t deliver.

Bold independence and unflinching conservatism.

“I can no longer sit on the sidelines and see what has happened in these United States of America,” West said in his campaign announcement.

When West says “these United States,” it’s not mere rhetorical flourish.

He knows what makes America great is that it’s a pluralistic system, a constitutional republic. The people and their states retain great powers, and they aren’t to be pushed around by the federal government or any detached bureaucracy.

Imagine if neither Florida nor South Dakota went their own way in 2020, but instead followed the Fauci playbook.

Would Texas have ever reopened?

State sovereignty, the principle of subsidiarity, and the Tenth Amendment are all hanging by a thread, even though these ideas formed the cornerstone of the American Revolution.

West raises these issues not just because he’s a man of integrity who speaks his mind but because he wants to inspire the same in others.

He wants Texans to think and act for themselves.

“Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a union of states that will abide by the Constitution,” he notoriously said last year in a letter from his desk as Texas GOP chair.

That was in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court denying Texas’ lawsuit that was supported by 18 other states to challenge the 2020 presidential election results.

The media’s reaction, which was predictable, was to label West a radical who supported secession. Pay no attention to Allen West, citizens.

Where was Abbott? Not in West’s corner, nor in the corner of any Texan pushing for transparency and accountability.

Abbott is working hard to convey the opposite lately.

He just showed up to the border with President Donald Trump, who has endorsed his campaign for a third term.

Abbott recently acted unilaterally to build a wall for Texas along its border with Mexico.

But if he has this power now, then he had it for all the years he’s been in office prior, so why the big spectacle all of a sudden?

If Texans wake up to Abbott’s cynicism and demand something bigger and better, then millions across the country will feel a deep sense of gratitude.

It may, however, take a rough and tumble primary to stir up enough voters willing to rock the boat. Now is not the time for timidity, but action. Allen West shouldn’t hold back one bit, and if he doesn’t, it could prove to be one of the most educational primaries for Republicans nationwide to watch in recent memory.

Gavin Wax

Gavin Wax

Gavin Wax is the 76th President of the New York Young Republican Club, Chairman of the New York Republican Liberty Caucus, an Ambassador for Turning Point USA, and an Associate Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. You can follow him on Twitter at @GavinWax.

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