Congressman Ralph Hall of Rockwall, Texas, handed the congressional rightwing an easy victory on New Year’s Day when he revealed that he was switching from the Democratic to the Republican Party. The Texas congressional delegation is thus split evenly, 16-16.

Hall is a leftover Dixiecrat from the worst days of racist oppression in the South. No one in the state was surprised, because Hall has been voting against his own party and with the extreme right wing for decades. His formal switch to the GOP, however, when combined with the recent congressional remap, will strengthen that party’s hand in state and national politics.

Hall excused his betrayal by claiming that he could only represent his constituency by switching parties. The working people of East Texas know that is nonsense.

By his actions, Hall has placed himself in a gallery with the worst historical characters in East Texas history. The region was noted by the NAACP in its formative years as one of the worst places in the United States for lynchings of African Americans.

Even as late as August, 1999, near Sulphur Springs, an African American was chained to a tree and burned to death by two white men. The main perpetrator admitted his crime, but was tried as a juvenile (he was 16) and given a three-year sentence for the heinous murder. Then-Gov. George W. Bush and other political figures made sure that the racist murder was not legally designated a “hate crime.”

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