It is time to face the facts: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has not been a leader in the coronavirus crisis. He has relinquished his responsibilities to local governments, and in his own words, acknowledged he is looking to Washington for guidance. This is a very disappointing and un-Texan response.

Texans are independent, self-motivated, individualists; yet the decisions made by the Texas governor have led to further economic damage as a disproportionate response to the fact that, as of April 14, 318 people have died out of 29 million Texas residents, which is a 0.00109 percent total fatality rate.

Meanwhile, the governor has effectively shut down the 10th-largest economy in the world by not standing up to local leaders who are usurping his authority, such as liberal County Judges Clay Jenkins and Glen Whitley, along with Democrat Mayors Sylvester Turner (Houston) and Ron Nirenberg (San Antonio). Abbott has been more concerned with political correctness than confronting this power grab; plus, he’s joined in lockstep with the parade of emotional decision-makers in Washington who have caused massive economic damage.

Texas is a sovereign state where the governor holds the ultimate say. Abbott has had the chance of a lifetime to step in as a leader in the middle of a massive crisis and approach this threat with logic and reason. Other governors in states such as Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota have taken the approach of empowering their citizens with facts while allowing everyone to be personally responsible for what works for their individual health.

Sweden provides another example of taking a logical approach and questioning not only the effectiveness but also the legality of a total lockdown. What has been proven is that economic shutdown creates irreversible shockwaves felt for generations. The mental and physical health repercussions of record unemployment and government dependency must also be considered. Texas leaders must ask hard questions and lead their citizens in a path based on facts, not emotion.

Instead, Abbott began by deferring to local governments to do whatever they wanted. The overstep by Texas’ most liberal local leaders was met with silence by the governor. Texas needs a unifying plan of definitive and clear rules, which can only come from a governor.

Local government, especially liberal socialist-leaning leaders, should not be making these incredibly important decisions on how to stop the virus, thereby shutting down the economy and creating a hodgepodge of rules that propagate more anxiety and confusion.

Fear of the virus is real and understandable, but being unemployed and financially destitute is even more real and consequential. Most Texans live by each paycheck and are angry and panicked about their financial security. The unintended consequences of the destruction of the Texas economy are almost unimaginable … poverty, mental health issues, suicide, and crime, just to name a few. Texans deserve leaders who are thoughtful, act independently of political pressure, and weigh every risk equitably and accurately, always understanding that the fundamental role of government is to defend liberty.

For example: according to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 3,600 people die in vehicle accidents annually, and tens of thousands are injured. Should the government outlaw cars? Shut down any automotive-related employment?

Statistically, the risk of dying in a car accident is much higher than dying from COVID-19. However, the Texas government takes a balanced approach to weighing the risks and rewards associated with vehicle operation and chooses to equip citizens with every opportunity to drive safely, while giving individuals liberty to choose their method of transportation.

On March 19, the governor said, “There was nothing specific in the executive order about churches because there is freedom of religion here in the United States of America.” Yet when local leaders like Judge Lina Hidalgo from Houston and Dallas Judge Clay Jenkins defied him and issued orders specifically closing down churches, Abbott said nothing.

Gov. Abbott has not clearly communicated a plan; he relies on Washington for direction and lets local leaders walk in where his lack of leadership creates a void. Since he is a governor of a sovereign state, Mr. Abbott alone is accountable for destroying the Texas economy and its generational consequences.

Hardworking Texans are smart and independent, and we know the solutions to our problems come from ourselves. We need a governor committed to those truths.

This commentary was submitted and published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to

Don Huffines

Don Huffines is a conservative businessman and former state senator. He leads the Huffines Liberty Foundation with his wife, Mary Catherine.