Running deep through the heart of the tragedies of ancient Greece is the concept of hubris and nemesis. When a human viewed himself as invincible and infallible, then he entered into the state of hubris. This act of arrogance caused the gods to send a destroyer to strike a balance, usually the polar opposite of its target. That figure was known as a nemesis.
For Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, his political nemesis may have arrived in 2017, in the form of a retired firefighter, school teacher, and historian Rick Range.
Elected Land Commissioner in 2014, Bush soon began remaking the Land Office in his own image.
First, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) were turned out as overseers of the daily operations of the Alamo, and their offices were raided by armed agents on behalf of the Land Office who then seized their files.
The DRT would later file suit and win the right to have their property returned to them from George P. Bush’s Land Office. A sad and ignoble end to over 100 years of the Daughters’ involvement in Alamo oversight and preservation.
But uneasy is the head that wears the crown it would seem. Following his unchivalrous takeover of Alamo operations, Bush lamented while on a video conference with his father’s presidential campaign supporters that “Yours truly is stuck here in Texas this week… There’s no better experience than getting involved in a presidential race because you truly do absorb so much more information than say, running for dog catcher like I did in Texas.”
Next would follow the ultimate Bush boondoggle when out-of-state planners were called in to design a master plan that would “Reimagine” the Alamo and its surrounding plaza.
The plan comes at an estimated cost of $450,000,000 to reimagine—a figure that if adjusted for inflation would allow almost enough funds to transact the 1803 Louisiana purchase twice.
The plan also calls for imported German glass walls to be constructed in place of the original perimeter. It includes removal of the nearly century-old trees in the pavilion and a rooftop restaurant observation deck. Most egregious to the people of Texas, is the banishment of the sacred Veteran memorial for the fallen known as the Cenotaph to a location yet undisclosed—and the list goes on.
Of all the questions to be asked about the plan to Reimagine the Alamo and its history, perhaps the greatest is cui bono—who benefits?
And what safeguards would be in place to ensure that the relationship between mega-donors, nonprofits, politicians, and the government would not become incestuous as hundreds of millions of dollars flow through Alamo plaza? To ask the question is to answer it.
As spring 2017 arrived in San Antonio, non-revisionist historians involved with Alamo restoration would have probably agreed with T.S. Elliot that “April is the cruelest month” as the “Big Reveal” of the reimagine master plan was released to the public.
The plan was promptly rammed through the San Antonio City Council in May 2017.
During one of the limited public hearings about the plan’s specifics, questions were raised as to what role the 1836 battle would play in a reimagined Alamo, only to be met with vague references to a 10,000-year history and assertions that the master planner “could not single out one moment in time.”
Looking back, evidence indicates that neither the Texas General Land Office nor the city of San Antonio had any intention of ever having to answer concerns over the necessity or historical integrity of the master plan. The reimagine train had left the station loaded with a cargo of cash, and nothing was going to derail it.
When Tea Party activist Ray Myers attempted to assuage the fears of the grassroots by gaining a seat on the advisory board to ensure a traditionalist voice would be heard during the process, he was reportedly told that he could be on the board, but a donation of $250,000 was required.
Enter Rick Range—retired school teacher, firefighter and lover of all things Alamo and its history.
By the summer of 2017 Range was a man on a mission. Frustrated by what can only be summed up as a mainstream media blackout over the Reimagine master plan, Range took into his own hands the matter of getting the word out.
Armed with only a landline, flip phone, and old-fashioned Rolodex, Range went to work.
Operating on a shoestring budget, with no outside donors, and using a DIY website builder, Range then launched www.savethealamo.us along with a Facebook page and Twitter.
By early fall the Save the Alamo Committee was born, and the pressure to explain the peculiarities of the Reimagine master plan were mounting for Land Commissioner George P. Bush, as an outpouring of grassroots outrage filled the comments section of Land Office social media pages and email inboxes.
In September, Bush was repudiated for his handling of the Alamo by the Texas Republican Executive Committee by a vote of 57-1.
In mid-October, a rally was held in Alamo plaza to save the Cenotaph, and mainstream media outlets started to take notice.
All the while Range continued to crisscross the state speaking to any group that would listen, and calling radio shows from the landline phone in his kitchen, a phone that I’m fairly sure has been in use since the Nixon administration.
Sensing that the hour was late, and tired of waiting for someone from the political establishment to take on Bush about the Alamo issue directly, Range became the first candidate to file as a challenger to Bush in the March 2018 Republican Primary.
Rick Range had become Bush’s political nemesis.
Following Rick onto the ballot to challenge Bush were land surveyor Davey Edwards and former Land Commissioner and Marine, Jerry Patterson—both of whom are good men.
Now, behind the effort to educate the public about the possible dangers of a Reimagined Alamo were countless grassroots activists, patriots, historians, and concerned citizens that we must thank.
Following the timeline of events leading up to this crucial election over the future of our history, Rick Range is clearly the Paul Revere in the movement to say NO to Reimagine the Alamo.
And while Mr. Range—who could quite possibly pass for Davy Crockett’s doppelganger—does not fit the mold of the polished politician who is focus group filtered and speaks only with a teleprompter. He is the type of candidate it’s a pleasure to vote for in 2018, and a story that could happen only in Texas.
The stage is set, and the battle lines are drawn. The Texas Republican Primary is set for March 6th—to the day, 182 years since the fall of the Alamo. At stake here is nothing short of what kind of history will be told to the people and the children of Texas as their legacy?
Will we continue the emasculating seizure, censorship, and segregation of our history, as seen in the removal of Confederate monuments?
Would not the next logical target for sanitization be the Alamo and the brave, imperfect, and mortal men who defended her as the present continues its crusade against the past?
One thing is for sure—those in power who seek to control our past will be watching March 6th to learn if what Alexander Hamilton told a British lord about our Republic still holds true today, that “here sir the people rule.”
The story goes that upon hearing of her son’s death at the Alamo, Jim Bowie’s mother defiantly retorted, “I’ll wager no wounds were found on his back.” And so too will it be with Rick Range as he defiantly battles all the way to election night to save our history and heroes from revisionist radicals.
March 6th—it’s time to Remember the Alamo and Reimagine the political career of George P. Bush.
Vote Rick Range for Texas Land Commissioner.
Tony and his wife Melissa, son Houston, and chocolate lab Layla reside in San Antonio.
You can find Tony on Twitter @tonyarterburn
Latest posts by Tony Arterburn (see all)
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