GOP Congressmember Brian Babin—A Dentist Who Widens the Cavities in Our Democracy July 17, 2022
And the bombshells from the January 6 committee “just keep on coming”. In its seventh public hearing, the January 6th Commission made clear that Demagogue/authoritarian Donald, even though he knew that the 11/2020 presidential election was not fraudulent, helped orchestrate the violence committed by the extremist Proud Boys and Oath Keepers vigilantes. These armed groups have had many of their members rightfully charged with sedition because of their participation in the 1/06/2021 attempted Capitol coup (See latimes.com, Wire, S., 7/12/22). Another key fact noted by the 1/06 Commission that should gain more attention is that at least ten GOP Congressmembers attended a 12/21/2020 meeting. This meeting focused on opposing counting votes of some states on 1/06/2021 in an effort to change the election outcome by preventing Biden from getting the electoral votes needed to win the presidency. That group included many of the usual extremist suspects, Marjorie (“Jewish Space Lasers”) Taylor Greene (R-GA), Paul (“My family disowns me”) Gosar (R-AZ), and Jim (“I’ll blindly defend Trump for anything and everything”) Jordan (R-OH). Another member of this notorious gang, according to the LA Times (Wire, 7/12/22), was Brian Babin (R-TX). Who is this Brian Babin?
Fourth-term GOP Congressmember Brian Babin (74) currently represents Texas’ 36th Congressional District (CD). The present Lone Star State 36th is a congressional compromise between two key parts of that state’s GOP base— East TX GOPers and suburban voters in the Houston area, both of whom wanted a new congressional district. The TX 24th is evenly divided between these groups. About half the 36th CD’s population lives in a collection of eight lightly populated counties in the E. TX area. Lumber, farming, ranching, and oil and gas are the economic pillars in this area (Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac). The second half of the CD 36th is located in the southeast corner of Houston’s Harris’ County. It is populated by highly educated employees of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and the aeronautics industry that grew around it. The suburbs in this area include blue-collar Baytown, Deer Park, La Porte and the part of Pasadena near the Houston Ship Channel. Clear Lake, Taylor Lake Village, and part of Webster lie in the TX 36th (Cohen & Cook 2022). The 36th’s East TX played a prominent role in that state’s history. It was one of the first parts of TX settled by Anglos. Anahuac in Chambers County was a port of entry for early colonists. An Indian reservation remains in Polk County. Most of E. TX continues to be frozen in time. Railroads passed by many farm towns in this region and the interstates overlooked this area. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 abolished racial segregation, and the 36th is home to a large portion of TX’s rural Black population. Still, the 36th is dominated by whites. It is 82.40% white, 9% Black, and 28.50% Latino (Cohen & Cook 2022).
Politically, E. TX is like the rest of the rural Deep South which it borders. It was originally Democratic because of its allegiance to the Confederacy which fought Lincoln’s Republicans. One century later, after Goldwater voted against civil rights and Nixon embraced the “Southern Strategy,” this “Solid Democratic South” district and the area around it flipped and became “Rock Red” GOP. East TX does not like the “cultural lean” of national Democrats and believes that “Team Blue” favors Eastern cities and the West Coast. The part of the 36th CD in Harris County is more upscale and contains many engineers. This section of the 36th favors the GOP because that party opposes raising taxes, dislikes government spending, and backs simple straight solutions to the problems facing America and the world (See Cohen & Cook 2022). The TX 36th is one of the top 5% of GOP districts in the country. It has a blinding “Red” Cook PVI (Partisan Voting Index) score of R+25. In 2012, Romney won 73% of its votes, and in 2016 and 2020 Donald took 72% in each of his campaigns (Cohen & Cook 2022).
Port Arthur, TX native Brian Babin grew up in Beaumont. He attended Lamar University and received a 1976 dentistry degree from the University of Texas at Houston. After dental school, Babin served overseas in the Air Force and later became an airborne artilleryman in the Army Reserve. He moved to Woodville in rural Tyler County where he practiced dentistry. He served as alderman and mayor of Woodville. In 1980, Babin worked in Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign, first as a county coordinator and then as the regional chair. He claimed credit for shifting parts of normally conservative Democratic E. TX to the GOP. When the incumbent Democratic Congressmember retired in 1996, Babin ran and lost the race for that open seat, and lost again by a wider margin in 1998 (Cohen & Cook 2022). When the new 36th CD became open in 2014, Babin ran in a 12-candidate primary field. Despite having to pay $30,000 in civil fines for receiving illegal corporate money from a friend in his 1996 race, Babin handily won the May, 2014 runoff by a 16-point margin, 58%-42%. He easily crushed his Democratic opponent in 11/2014, 75.97% v. 22.04%. Babin has handily coasted to victory in his three subsequent re-election campaigns (Cohen & Cook 2022, webarchive.org/web/2014).
In the House, Cong. Babin serves on two committees quite important to his district, Science, Space & Technology and Transportation & Infrastructure (CQ 117th Congress At Your Fingertips). He has sought to bolster NASA and make his own mark as the top GOPer on the Space Subcommittee. He was elected chair of that subcommittee during his first year in Congress. Cong. Babin wants to resume manned spaceflight as NASA’s top priority. He backed Trump’s Space Force and saw it as aiding national security objectives in space. He helped pass provisions as well as a bill that widened and dredged Houston’s Ship Channel and improved navigation (Cohen & Cook 2022). Babin has a very strong far-right record. From 2019-2020, Babin had an 84% conservative v. 16 % liberal score, according to the 2022 Almanac (Cohen & Cook). Although he does not officially identify as a member of the anti-government Tea Party, he founded the Tyler County Patriots. He said that he believes “with all my heart in less government, lower taxes, and more individual responsibility and more economic freedom, and you can put whatever label you want to on it (Eldridge, 8/31/14, rollcall.com).”
On 1/25/2015, Cong. Babin stated in an interview with the far-right “Daily Caller” that Obama “deserved impeachment.” He also criticized Obama’s foreign policy and called him an “appeaser deluxe (Wikipedia).” Babin was one of 25 House GOPers to vote against fellow Republican John Boehner’s successful reelection as House Speaker in 2015 (abcnews.go.com, 1/06/15). When the Supreme Court voted for a second time to uphold Obamacare in 6/2015, Babin introduced an unsuccessful bill to force the Court Justices to enroll in Obamacare and purchase health insurance under the health exchanges to“understand the full impact of their decisions (thehill.,com, Hensch, 6/25/15).” In 7/2015, Babin endorsed fellow Texan GOPer Ted Cruz for president. When Cruz lost the nomination to Trump, Babin threw his support behind Donald and stated that he “worked very hard to get Trump elected (Cohen & Cook 2022, Lane, 7/02/15, dallasnews.com).” Babin defended Trump’s calling Hillary a “nasty woman” at the final presidential debate. Babin stated that “sometimes a lady needs to be told when she’s being nasty (cnn.com, Kaczynski, 10/21/16).”
Cong. Babin, called “Doc Babin” by friends, is no supporter of Obamacare. Originally a member of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, Babin quit this group in 4/2017, because he believed it had delayed revision of Obamacare. This repeal Obamcare legislation narrowly passed the House in 5/17 but was defeated in the Senate thanks to the “NAY” votes of dying Sen. John McCain, and fellow GOPers Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski (See Cohen & Cook 2022). Babin supported Trump’s executive order banning travel from six Muslim nations in the Middle East. Babin was a strong advocate for building a wall on the southern border (denverpost.com, Blake, 1/29/17, facebook.com, 12/20/18). Babin opposes transgender use of bathrooms and has introduced several bills to that effect which died in committee (congress.govbill, Text).He is against same-sex marriage and has co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to ban it (cong.govbill, 2/12/15).
Based on his entire record, we should not be surprised that Cong. Babin was part of the “Gang of 10” that met on 12/21/2020 to oppose counting electoral votes that Biden needed to win the presidency. Following the 2020 election, Babin organized a post-election “integrity rally” (LOL) in Lumberton, TX. He then declared, “This thing is going to continue until we are shown that that it was a legitimate election and these questions about all these concerning issues anomalies are answered (KBMT TV Beaumont, Cohen & Cook 2020).” In 12/2020, Babin joined 125 House GOP members in signing an amicus brief in support of the “Texas v. Pennsylvania” lawsuit filed in the U.S. Supreme Court that contested the results of the 2020 presidential election. SCOTUS (the Supreme Court of the United States) declined to hear the case on the grounds that TX lacked standing to challenge the results of an election held by another state (nytimes.com, 12/11/20, Liptak). Any first-year law student would have agreed with SCOTUS’ rejection of this lawsuit under the legal doctrine of standing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the signing of this amicus brief “election subversion.” Speaker Pelosi reprimanded Babin and his fellow GOPers for “bringing dishonor to the House and not supporting and defending the Constitution.” She rightly accused Babin and Company of “undermining public trust in our sacred democratic institutions (speaker.gov., 12/11/20, Press release).”
In his “dripping Red” Lone Star district, Cong. Babin can keep getting re-elected indefinitely. With Democrats currently holding the House Majority, he is an irrelevant House member. However, going into the 11/2022 midterm, Democrats only hold the House by five seats. Should the GOP retake the House, Babin will be up there with his fellow “Red” members doing everything he can to cover up the 1/06/2021 misdoings of Trump and his GOP rioters. Babin will also do his level best to enact reactionary GOP programs and stop Biden’s progressive agenda. Again, the only way to keep this from happening is for Democrats to come out in droves plus in 11/2022. We must add to our House majority as well as to our Senate members. There are more voters on our side than the GOP has. To take a phrase from the “Apollo 13” movie that Cong. Babin and all of us remember well, “failure is not an option.” If we don’t vote, we are committing political malpractice. Upholding Roe, the environment, and our very democracy are on the line. Cong. Babin must not be allowed to widen the cavities in our democracy. Any cracks in our democratic system must be filled.