Tag Archives: GOP platform

Texas Redux

I know that Texas isn’t the only state where lawmakers are intent on returning to the 1800s (preferably prior to the Civil War and Emancipation…). Florida’s GOP is right up there with them, and Indiana isn’t all that far behind. Still, I have a strange “soft spot” for Texan idiocy–even before the last few years, when moronic policy proposals became a dime a dozen,  I could always count on Texas for an excellent example to use in my Law and Policy classes…

You may have read that–when Texas Republicans held their convention some weeks back–they adopted a stunningly retrograde platform. The item that got the most media attention was a call to hold a statewide vote on whether to secede. (As Dana Milbank memorably noted in the Washington Post,“If at first you don’t secede, try, try again.”)

Milbank’s reaction mirrored my own: let’s offer Texas a severance package, and throw in Oklahoma for good measure. The U.S. would come out ahead.

Of course, protections would have to be negotiated for parts of Texas that wish to remain on Team Normal. Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and parts of South Texas would remain in the United States, and they will need guaranteed safe passage to New Orleans or Santa Fe, along with regular airlifts of sustainable produce, accurate textbooks and contraceptives.

But consider the benefits to the rest of the country: Two fewer Republican senators, two dozen fewer Republican members of the House, annual savings of $83 billion in defense funds that Texas gets. And the best reason? The Texas GOP has so little regard for the Constitution that it is calling for a “Convention of the States” to effectively rewrite it — and so little regard for the United States that it wishes to leave.
 
In democracy’s place, the Republican Party, which enjoys one-party rule in Texas, is effectively proposing a church state. If you liked Crusader states and Muslim caliphates, you’ll love the Confederate Theocracy of Texas.

Milbank illustrated his “Crusader” conclusion with references to the rest of that stunningly theocratic platform:

Texas would officially declare that “homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice.” It would redefine marriage as a “covenant only between one biological man and one biological woman,” and it would “nullify” any court rulings to the contrary. (The gay Log Cabin Republicans were banned from setting up a booth at the convention.) It would fill schools with “prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments” but ban “the teaching of sex education.” It would abolish all abortions and require students to “learn about the Humanity of the Preborn Child.”

There was–as you might imagine–much more. The state would abolish the Voting Rights Act, do away with the Income Tax and Estate Tax, and deep-six property taxes. Texas would withdraw from the United Nations.

I’m not sure where the state would get funds to do even the very few things the platform considered governmental responsibilities, since the areas that generate most of those despised taxes are the urban centers that wouldn’t secede.

There’s more, but it gets depressing to delve more deeply into contemporary GOP fever dreams.

If you wonder where these crackpot ideas get their staying power, Thomas Edsall recently published a column on the roots of the stubborn conspiracy theories widely accepted by today’s Republicans. ( He too referred to the Texas GOP platform, which he notes was hardly a minority effort–it was adopted by  5,000 delegates to the convention.)

“We reject the certified results of the 2020 presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States.”

Unfortunately, that particular evidence of mental impairment is not limited to Texas Republicans. Polling suggests that the stolen election conspiracy theory is currently embraced by 71 percent of Republicans — roughly 52 million voters. Edsall writes that the belief in a stolen election has ” become the adhesive holding the dominant Trump wing of the party in lock-step.” 

The Texas GOP platform is a good gauge of the other preoccupations/fantasies of those 52 million voters. As Milbank reports, It invoked “God” or the “Creator” 18 times and “sovereignty” or sovereign power 24 times. And the word “democracy”? Only once — in reference to China.”

This all raises what we old folks used to call the Sixty-Four Thousand Dollar Question.”

As the January 6th Committee methodically releases evidence–actual, verifiable evidence–how many of the fact-resistant voters who are clinging to preposterous explanations for their perceived loss of social dominance will grudgingly recognize that they live in 2022, not 1822?

 

The GOP Platform

As most readers of this blog undoubtedly know, David  Frum was a speechwriter for George W. Bush. These days, he is a “Never Trumper” who contributes to  The Atlantic, and he has weighed in on the GOP’s decision to  forego a platform in 2020.

Frum says  that, despite their reluctance to publish a document outlining  where the party stands, there is, in fact, wide agreement among party members on a number of policies.

The Republican Party of 2020 has lots of ideas. I’m about to list 13 ideas that command almost universal assent within the Trump administration, within the Republican caucuses of the U.S. House and Senate, among governors and state legislators, on Fox News, and among rank-and-file Republicans.

As Frum sees it, the question isn’t why the GOP lacks  policies to put in a platform. The question is, why is the party so reluctant to publish the policies that virtually all today’s  Republicans support?  The answer  to that question becomes pretty obvious  when Frum lists the thirteen areas of substantial Republican agreement.

1. The first–no surprise–is reducing taxes on the rich. (That  seems to be the  sum total  of  Republican economic policy.)

2. Cutting taxes has been Republican policy for many years; Frum’s second “plank,” however, is  new. The GOP overwhelmingly subscribes to the belief that the coronavirus is a “much-overhyped problem” that will soon burn itself out. Since  it’s overhyped and “just  a flu,”states should reopen their economies as rapidly as possible. (The casualties that  ensue are a cost worth paying.) And wearing masks is useless.

3.Speaking of “overhyped”–Republicans overwhelmingly believe that climate change isn’t a real problem. They doubt that it is happening, but even if it  is,  they’re confident  that  it will be countered by the technologies of tomorrow. Meanwhile,” regulations to protect the environment unnecessarily impede economic growth.”

4.. China is our enemy, and our relations with China should be  assessed as “zero  sum.” “When China wins, the U.S. loses, and vice versa.”

5. Speaking of foreign policy, our longstanding alliances are outdated.

The days of NATO and the World Trade Organization are over. The European Union should be treated as a rival, the United Kingdom and Japan should be treated as subordinates, and Canada, Australia, and Mexico should be treated as dependencies.

6. Health care is a consumer good,  and people should make their own best deals. The government shouldn’t be involved in making rules  for the insurance market. People who can  pay more should get more, and people who can’t pay  will just  have  to rely on Medicaid, accept charity, or go without.

7. Voting isn’t a right;  it’s a privilege.

States should have wide latitude to regulate that privilege in such a way as to minimize voting fraud, which is rife among Black Americans and new immigrant communities. The federal role in voting oversight should be limited to preventing Democrats from abusing the U.S. Postal Service to enable fraud by their voters.

8. Racism is no longer a real problem, but “reverse racism” is.

9. The courts should  eliminate the notion that a woman has a constitutional right to sexual privacy, or control over her own body.

10. The post-Watergate ethics reforms were too strict, and conflict-of-interest rules simply keep wealthy, successful businesspeople from entering public service. The Trump administration has met all reasonable ethical standards.

11. Build the wall! If immigrants do  manage to enter the country, delay citizenship  as  long as possible.

12. Aside from a few  “bad apples,”  the policeman is your  friend. Lawlessness is a  result  of  groups  like Black Lives Matter.

13. In the face of the “unfair onslaught” against President Donald Trump by the media and the “deep state,” his “occasional” excesses should be excused as pardonable reactions.

Frum  says that this tacit platform works–to the extent it does– by motivating Trump supporters, exciting  the remaining Republican  base. If it were  to be spelled out,  however, even in an abbreviated form, as I have done above, it would invite backlash among a  majority of Americans.

As Frum  says,  “This is a platform for a party that talks to itself, not to the rest of the country. And for those purposes, the platform will succeed most to the extent that it is communicated only implicitly, to those receptive to its message.”

Unbelievable  as it  is, a substantial minority of  voters find these positions rational,  even inspiring. That minority will work for the  election of candidates  wedded to these positions, and  they will vote. Those of us who see  this  “platform” as appalling absolutely  must  turn out in great numbers. We have to defeat the efforts  to  suppress our votes. We  have  to vote  early,  vote absentee,  or mask up and march to our  polling  places  on election  day–whatever it takes.

Get out the vote has never been more important. America’s  future  depends on turnout.