Foreign authoritarian powers are undermining democracy worldwide and I can’t help making parallels to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Much like a triumphant West after the Cold War, many in the Potter-verse had believed Lord Voldemort — the main antagonist in the series — was defeated. Unbeknownst to them, the dark wizard was hiding in plain sight, reshaping influential institutions, manipulating political leaders and engineering fake news.

Liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, most state legislators consistently demonstrate dedication to governmental transparency, something informed taxpayers should appreciate and celebrate. To that end, let’s cheer the Texas House of Representatives for unanimously approving a bill last week requiring governmental entities to disclose certain information about concerts, parades and other entertainment when funded wholly or partially with taxpayer money.

Like the rest of you, Wacoans love Joanna and Chip Gaines’ HGTV show, magazine, housewares, books and (most of all?) biscuits and gravy. No one objected when they turned giant silos from eyesores into religious icons. Only a few protested when they recently bought “The Castle” — namesake home of Waco’s most esteemed neighborhood, Castle Heights. But murmurs are starting now that they’ve purchased the 151-year-old Fort House, formerly managed by the Historic Waco Foundation.

Americans, collectively, appear to be in a deeper funk about the future than Beto O’Rourke was after he lost his Senate race. When adults are asked to think about what the United States will be like in 2050, they see the country declining in stature on the world stage, a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots and growing political polarization. They think health care will be less affordable, public education will be lower quality and retiring will be harder.

Flashback

What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.