Dear Representative Gohmert,
Knowing that you’ve been busy defending yourself against charges of violating the U.S. House’s mask mandate and failing to respect that body’s weapons security policy, I thought it would be wise to inform you that a broad swath of deep red now stretches along the eastern border of Texas, from the Red River to Lake Sam Rayburn, engulfing the 12 counties of Texas Congressional District 1, which you have represented for the past 16 years.
This scarlet band is not the blushing afterglow of your re-election last November— when you garnered over 72% of the votes cast—but the Center for Disease Control’s dire alert that community transmission of Covid-19 has reached ‘high’ and ‘substantial’ levels in your district in Harrison, Nacogdoches, Rusk, Shelby, Upshur and Wood counties. That means almost 40% of your constituents, about 300,000 of our fellow Texans, are now in elevated danger from the deadly virus.
Experts have determined that masks, social distancing, and vaccination are the most effective means for tamping down the pandemic. Yet—while over 40% of Texans are fully vaccinated—vaccination rates in your district don’t exceed 33% (Smith County), and are as low as 21% (Shelby and Panola counties).
Surely it is difficult to get the vaccines in arms in rural CD TX-1. But another factor is also undoubtedly at play: poverty. San Augustine and Nacogdoches counties are ranked among the nation’s Persistent Poverty Counties by the Congressional Research Service, with 24% of their populations living in poverty for the past 30 years. In fact, in two-thirds of the counties in your district, poverty levels exceed the statewide average of 15%. With only a single exception—Angelina County—poverty has increased or remained unchanged among your constituents during your long term in office.
So, Representative Gohmert, please take a good look at the lives and well-being of the Texans in CD TX-1. And remember, when you’re trying to stop the House from docking your $174,000 annual salary for failing to wear a mask on the House floor, there are East Texans who would welcome masks and vaccinations to save their lives and livelihoods. Bright red may be your party’s color, but for our fellow Texans, when the red is painted on the state map by the CDC, it is a forewarning of suffering, economic ruin, and death.
Oveseas-based constituent CD TX-1