Texas without Ivins

Texas progressives mourned the death of columnist and author Molly Ivins, who succumbed to cancer Jan. 31. Even the people she antagonized most — corporate bigwigs and greedy politicians — made public lamentations about the loss of our true Texas satirist.

Ivins’ memory will remain in the warm spot she created in the hearts of the state’s progressives in the 1970s, when forward-thinking political figures weren’t even numerous enough to be called a minority in the Democratic Party. The tiny Austin weekly Texas Observer hired her during the time when there were only 30 state legislators who would take a stand for minorities and the poor. It was a time when so many bad things happened in the Texas Legislature that laughing was the only possible relief, and Ivins led that laughter.

Mercilessly, she pointed out the large and small peccadilloes of state government. “The only legislature we have,” as Ivins called it, ordinarily meets for only a few months every two years. For concerned Texans, those months belonged to Molly Ivins and the Texas Observer. She would sound the alarm when they were preparing to meet, and announce the “all clear” when they adjourned.

Ivins’ talent made her one of America’s most-read columnists and the author of a number of hilarious books.

Even though Texas Democrats do not control a single state office nor either house of the “Lege” today, Ivins lived to see the Democratic Party’s more liberal wing take control, as more and more Black and Latino candidates took office and the racist Dixiecrats died off or switched parties.

Her last column was a rant against the Iraq war and “Shrub’s” escalation demands. She wrote, “Every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous.”

Crazy things continue to happen in Texas. How will we bear it without Molly Ivins?