Democrats in Texas have not won a statewide election since 1994. This Republican domination of Texas is largely due to the fact that Texas historically has the worst voter turnout in the nation over all those years (it improved in 2020 with pandemic voting rules, which have since been rescinded by Jim Crow 2.0 GQP voter suppression). Analysis: It’s harder to vote in Texas than in any other state.
This Republican domination of Texas through voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement has led to a particular breed of Republican, evangelical White Christian Nationalists and Dominionists, to dominate the state’s politics. Former three term governor Rick Pery led the way. See, Rick Perry’s Army of God:
[W]hat makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government. The new prophets and apostles believe Christians — certain Christians — are destined to not just take “dominion” over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the “Seven Mountains” of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world. They believe they’re intended to lord over it all. As a first step, they’re leading an “army of God” to commandeer civilian government.
Rick Perry went on to become an insurrectionist Coup Plotter in the Trump administration. Rick Perry’s Election Lie Undone — By His Own Text Message:
Perry, a Republican former Texas governor and Trump White House energy secretary, previously denied CNN reports that in the days after the 2020 election he sent text messages to then-Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows with ideas for overturning Donald Trump’s defeat.
But on Monday, CNN published a trove of 2,319 of Meadows’ previously undisclosed text exchanges with Trump allies sent between the time of the election and President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
One of the texts, sent on Jan. 7 just hours before the election was certified in favor of Biden, read: ”We have the data driven program that can clearly show where the fraud was committed. This is the silver bullet. Pam Biondi has seen and agrees!! Rick Perry.”
It was signed “Rick Perry” and also reportedly included a phone number that CNN confirmed belonged to Perry.
It was White Christian Nationalists who were the MAGA/QAnon violent insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Christian nationalism drove Jan. 6: Now it’s embraced the Big Lie, and wants to conquer America. See also, White Christian Nationalism ‘Is a Fundamental Threat to Democracy’.
Texas is the real-life experiment in the fictional Republic of Gilead in the “Handmaid’s Tale.” White Christian Nationalists saw this novel not as a dystopian future but as a “how to” guide.
So this should come as no surprise to anyone. The Texas Tribune reports, Texas Republican Convention calls Biden win illegitimate and rebukes Cornyn over gun talks:
Meeting at their first in-person convention since 2018, Texas Republicans on Saturday acted on a raft of resolutions and proposed platform changes to move their party even further to the right. They approved measures declaring that President Joe Biden “was not legitimately elected” and rebuking Sen. John Cornyn for taking part in bipartisan gun talks. They also voted on a platform that declares homosexuality “an abnormal lifestyle choice” and calls for Texas schoolchildren “to learn about the humanity of the preborn child.”
The Tx. GOP is largest state GOP in country. Every Tx. statewide elected official is member. Their official position is Biden is illegal president. This is 1860. Let’s not pretend that @GOP isn’t an anti-democratic radical group. Listen to what they are saying. They believe it.
— stuart stevens (@stuartpstevens) June 19, 2022
This is all so predictable & sad. @JohnCornyn was once a respected Tx Supreme Court judge. Solid Tx AG. A normal, functioning non-crazy Senator. I worked on his 1st campaign. Then he threw it all away trying to be accepted by MAGA. Now they come for him. https://t.co/9mGgBFrOHW
— stuart stevens (@stuartpstevens) June 18, 2022
The actions capped a convention that highlighted how adamantly opposed the party’s most active and vocal members are to compromising with Democrats or moderating on social positions, even as the state has grown more diverse and Republicans’ margins in statewide elections have shrunk slightly in recent years.
Votes on the platform were collected at the end of the party’s three-day convention in which party activists moved to add multiple items to the official Texas GOP platform. As the convention closed, two separate sets of ballots — one allowing delegates to choose eight of 15 legislative priorities and another allowing delegates to vote on the 275 platform planks — were gathered. Those will now need to be tallied and certified in Austin, but it is rare for a plank to be rejected, according to party spokesperson James Wesolek.
The convention reinforced the extent to which former President Donald J. Trump’s unfounded claims of a stolen election continue to resound among the party faithful — even though his claims have repeatedly been debunked, including by many of his own former aides, and after a week of televised hearings about the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The denunciation of Cornyn represented a remarkable rebuke to a Republican who has served in the Senate since 2002. The hall at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston filled with boos on Friday as he tried to explain the legislation, which would allow juvenile records to be incorporated into background checks for gun buyers younger than 21 and encourage “red flag” laws that would make it easier to remove guns from potentially dangerous people, along with more funding for school safety and mental health.
Meanwhile, the party platform vote on Saturday by roughly 5,100 convention delegates would argue that those under 21 are “most likely to need to defend themselves” and may need to quickly buy guns “in emergencies such as riots.” It also would say that red flag laws violate the due process rights of people who haven’t been convicted of a crime.
About 9,600 delegates and alternates were eligible to attend; organizers said turnout was a bit more than half that.
The new platform would call for:
- Requiring Texas students “to learn about the humanity of the preborn child,” including teaching that life begins at fertilization and requiring students to listen to live ultrasounds of gestating fetuses.
- Amending the Texas Constitution to remove the Legislature’s power “to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.”
- Treating homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice,” language that was not included in the 2018 or 2020 party platforms.
- Deeming gender identity disorder “a genuine and extremely rare mental health condition,” requiring official documents to adhere to “biological gender,” and allowing civil penalties and monetary compensation to “de-transitioners” who have received gender-affirming surgery, which the platform calls a form of medical malpractice.
- Changing the U.S. Constitution to cement the number of Supreme Court justices at nine and repeal the 16th Amendment of 1913, which created the federal income tax.
- Ensuring “freedom to travel” by opposing Biden’s Clean Energy Plan and “California-style, anti-driver policies,” including efforts to turn traffic lanes over for use by pedestrians, cyclists and mass transit.
- Declaring “all businesses and jobs as essential and a fundamental right,” a response to COVID-19 mandates by Texas cities that required customers to wear masks and limited business hours.
- Abolishing the Federal Reserve, the nation’s central bank, and guaranteeing the right to use alternatives to cash, including cryptocurrencies.
Not every far-right proposal was advanced. [Shockingly] The party chair, Matt Rinaldi, ruled that a motion to defend the due process rights of those who rioted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and to “reject the narrative” that the riot was an insurrection was out of order and could not be voted on.
Taken together, the new provisions would represent a shift even further rightward for the Republican Party of Texas, once known as the party of Presidents George Bush and his son George W. Bush. Land Commissioner George P. Bush, a grandson and nephew of the two presidents, was defeated handily in May in his runoff race against [the indicted and under FBI investigation] Attorney General Ken Paxton, an arch-conservative who sued to challenge the 2020 election outcome and convinced voters that he was the truer Trump loyalist.
Party platforms are mission statements rather than legal doctrines and, in Texas, they have long reflected the opinions of the most activist wings of the parties. Republican elected officials are not bound to adhere to the platform, and party activists at times have expressed frustration that some parts of their platform and legislative priorities have not become law, despite complete Republican control of the state Legislature.
But the platforms are broad indicators of the sentiments of the most active Republican voters — those who dominate party primaries. Republicans have controlled every statewide elected office in Texas since 1999 and both houses of the Legislature since 2003, so the wishes of the party’s populist, pro-Trump base inevitably affect actions taken in Austin.
“The platform is largely symbolic but important as a measure of ideological drift,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political scientist at the University of Houston. “Party platforms are often used as a cudgel in party primaries. A more muscular ideological platform eventually leads to a more conservative legislature as challengers knock off more moderate members.”
The convention was noteworthy for the relatively low profile of top officeholders. Gov. Greg Abbott, who is seeking a third term in the November election, only appeared at a reception on Thursday on the sidelines of the convention. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who effectively controls the state Senate, addressed the convention, but House Speaker Dade Phelan only spoke at a luncheon, not to the main body of delegates.
Tensions within the party at times got personal. Video posted online showed far-right activists physically accosting U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, calling the conservative Republican “eye-patch McCain” over his criticism of Russia. The group included self-identified Proud Boys and Alex Stein, a social media activist from North Texas. A Navy SEAL veteran, Crenshaw lost his right eye to a bomb in Afghanistan.
“A more aggressive party platform sends a clear message to politicians about where the base is going,” Rottinghaus said. “Donald Trump radicalized the party and accelerated the demands from the base. There simply aren’t limits now on what the base might ask for.”
Mark P. Jones, a political scientist at Rice University in Houston, said the 2022 platform indicated how emboldened hard-right party activists now feel — a far cry from 2020. Significant gains by Texas Democrats in state House elections in 2018 raised the prospect of the Republican Party losing its dominant status in Texas, making it moderate its platform in 2020 to focus on bread-and-butter issues. Texas Republicans did well in the 2020 elections — even though Biden won 46.5% of the Texas vote, the highest proportion for a Democrat since 1976 — and this year, culture-war issues were once again at front and center.
Jones said that Republican redistricting has made incumbents safer and less inclined to appeal to moderates. Moreover, inflation, the risk of a recession, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and growing acrimony over race, gender and sexuality make it seem increasingly likely that Democrats will lose the U.S. House in the November midterm elections.
“As a result, the 2022 GOP feels free to veer to the right to its heart’s content, confident that it won’t come back to haunt the party in November, except perhaps in a half dozen races,” Jones said. “And even the party’s pragmatic center right conservatives lack the ability to argue, as they did successfully in 2020, that an ultra conservative platform could cost the GOP its majority status in the Lone Star State. This year, even the absolute worst case scenario has the GOP winning statewide, increasing its number of U.S. House seats, boosting its Texas Senate majority by a seat, and maintaining the 83 seats it held in the 2021 Texas House.”
Before delegates voted on the platform, party activists delivered fiery speeches attacking Democrats.
“They want to destroy the racial progress we have made by saying that we are a racist nation,” said Robin Armstrong, a Black doctor in Texas City who treated COVID patients with unapproved drug therapies touted by Trump, including hydroxychloroquine. “The Democratic Party are now a party of chaos. They benefit from causing us to question the foundations that this country was built upon. The misery, the crime, the drug abuse, the high gas prices are all by design, so that the Democratic Party can permanently transform society. We Texans cannot and we will not allow this to happen.”
The Republican-dominated Legislature last year passed new voting restrictions that prompted Democratic lawmakers to flee to Washington to break quorum in an ultimately futile protest. However, Republican leaders said repeatedly on Saturday that it was the other side that was a threat to fair elections.
Because psychological projection is a fundamental GQP propaganda tool.
“The Democrats wants three things: Their goals are to steal elections, suppress Republican votes and federalize elections,” said Cindy Siegel, the chairperson of the Harris County GOP and a former mayor of Bellaire.
Immigration continued to be a major theme, with delegates lamenting Biden’s reversal of Trump-era border policies. U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington, of Lubbock, described an “unprecedented, unmitigated, self-inflicted disaster that is creating the worst humanitarian and national security threat to the American people in the history of our southern border,” adding, “this is an invasion, folks.”
“President Biden has ceded control of our borders to paramilitary, narco-terrorist cartels,” Arrington told delegates.
The mood of this convention was not hopeful. The themes ran dark, and activists spoke in apocalyptic, even cataclysmic, terms about the state of the country.
“Everything is topsy-turvy. What’s right is wrong and what’s wrong is right,” said state Sen. Donna Campbell, an emergency room doctor in New Braunfels, reflecting a state of uncertainty that is shared by Americans of many political backgrounds, even if they don’t agree on the causes. “Our country is on a trajectory to self-destruct, unless we change the direction.”
Campbell and other activists frequently spoke of their Christian faith.
“I believe that in the sovereignty of God, you and I were purposely born into this moment, into this confusing time that we face,“ Campbell said. “We’re meant to be alive, at this time, right now, and here in this state.”
There is that New Apostolic Reformation movement White Christian Nationalism and Dominionism.
What thy have done to Texas they want to do to the rest of the country. You have been warned.
UPDATE: The 40-page document is a grab bag of fringe right-wing insanity that the Texas Tribune did not mention. Here’s just a few:
A super-majoirty vote to amend the Texas Constitution: “We further resolve that all amendments to the Texas 106 Constitution require a majority of the voters in at least 191 counties (three-fourths), instead of a simple majority of the votes.” Anti-democratic veto power held by a tyranny of the minority.
Texas’ “sovereign right” to use of the military to defend against an invasion: any failing [by the federal government] authorizes the Governor of this State or the Legislature to declare an invasion, which shall be met with the full force of this State.”
“Constitutional Sheriffs” nonsense, and state supremacy: All attempts by the judiciary to rule in areas not constitutionally granted to the judiciary, including abuses of the “commerce clause,” the “general welfare clause,” and the “supremacy clause,” should be nullified. Any federal enforcement activities that do occur in Texas should be conducted under the authority of the county sheriff. Yes, let’s repeal the 20th century!
Amendments to the US Constitution: We:
a. Support term limits of twelve years for federal and state offices.
b. Oppose “packing” (or enlarging) the United States Supreme Court and supports the
pending “Keep Nine Amendment” as filed in the United States Senate and the House of
Representatives with bipartisan support.
c. Support repeal of the 16th Amendment (Federal Income Tax)
d. Support restoring state sovereignty with the repeal of the 17th Amendment of the United
States Constitution and the appointment of United States Senators by the state legislatures.
e. Support a change to the 14th Amendment to eliminate “birth tourism” or anchor babies by
granting citizenship only to those with at least one biological parent who is a US citizen.
f. Support a constitutional amendment making English the official language of the United
States, and one of no more than two official languages of all US territories and other possessions.
Texas supports the Electoral College because it gives Republicans a means to steal elections: “The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a direct violation of Article 1, Section 10, and Article 2, Section 1, of the Constitution and shall be rejected by Texas and all its officials. We support the Electoral College.”
But Wait there’s more!: “The State Legislature shall cause to be enacted a State Constitutional Amendment creating an electoral college consisting of electors selected by the popular votes cast within each individual state senatorial district, who shall then elect all statewide office holders.”
Christian Nationalism: We support prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments being returned to our schools, courthouses, and other government buildings.
Gun fetish gun worshippers want a free-for-all:
State and Federal Legislatures shall:
a. Repeal and/or nullify the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968.
b. Pass unrestricted Constitutional Carry by amending Article 1, Section 23, of the Texas Constitution by removing, “but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.”
c. Nullify any gun laws that violate the 2nd Amendment or rights of due process.
d. Support national reciprocity for gun ownership rights.
e. Recognize the right of License to Carry holders to carry anywhere off-duty or retired law enforcement can carry.
Secession! Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto. Totally bonkers.
Fetus fetishists. Women are God’s vessel for babies: “We urge lawmakers to enact legislation to abolish abortion by immediately securing the right to life and equal protection of the laws to all preborn children from the moment of fertilization, because abortion violates the US Constitution by denying such persons the equal protection of the law. Zygotes before adult women!
There is so much bonkers in here, I can’t possibly list them all.
The point here is that the national Republican Party has no platform other than servile obeisance to Donald Trump. The Texas Republican Party platform is what the MAGA/QAnon persoanlity cult of Trump wants and would do if you are foolish enough to elect these radical Republicans to office.
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post writes, “Texas’s new secessionist platform exposes a big GOP scam”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/06/20/texas-gop-platform-seccession-gop-voter-suppression/
Of all the lies that Republicans have told about the 2020 election, one of the most insulting is the “election integrity” ruse. In this telling, GOP state legislatures passed restrictions on voting across the country not to make it harder for the opposition’s voters to cast ballots, but rather to restore GQP voters’ “confidence” in elections going forward.
The Texas GOP has adopted a new platform … which exposes how that “election integrity” scam really functions. In so doing, it lays bare some ugly truths about how radical the abandonment of democracy among some Republicans has truly become.
The new platform, which thousands of GOP activists in Texas agreed to at the state party convention over the weekend, is a veritable piñata bursting with far-right extremist fantasies.
[B]ut the document might be most revealing in its treatment of voting and democracy. It declares President Biden was “not legitimately elected” in 2020. It says Biden’s win was tainted by voting in swing-state cities, furthering a GOP trend toward more explicitly declaring votes in urban centers illegitimate.
It urgently warns that Republicans must vote in high numbers in November 2022 to “overwhelm any possible fraud.” And notably, it calls for repeal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
It’s interesting that the Texas GOP is warning of more voter fraud to come while also calling for the state to have maximal authority to impose ever more onerous restrictions on voting, which is the apparent aim of repealing the VRA.
You might recall that Texas passed one of the nation’s most restrictive voting laws last year. It barred election officials from sending voters unsolicited vote-by-mail applications, created new hurdles to getting absentee ballots approved and went out of its way to target a populous Democratic county by outlawing measures the county had taken to make voting easier.
This, too, was justified in the name of “election integrity.” And that law has already resulted in an enormous spike in rejections of absentee ballots in 2022 primaries. The New York Times found that most of these rejections were rooted in routine mistakes made by voters.
Yet, oddly enough, Texas Republicans still do not appear reassured about the “integrity” of their elections. They’re still warning of impending fraud. They’re still claiming voting in urban centers should raise heightened suspicions. And they want radically expanded legislative authority to impose further restrictions, even (or perhaps especially?) ones that fall disproportionately on minorities.
After all, that’s the obvious goal of repealing the VRA. Repeal would do away with the law’s prohibition on state voting rules that deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race or color.
While the Constitution also prohibits abridgment of that right, the VRA directly codified protections against rules that have a discriminatory impact. Though the Supreme Court has weakened these protections, the VRA still exists in law, and repealing it would be extreme indeed.
“The aim of repealing the Voting Rights Act would be to make it even easier for the state of Texas to pass repressive voting laws,” election law expert Richard L. Hasen told me. “In one important example, repealing the VRA would eliminate the ban on literacy tests.”
It might be worth asking Texas Republicans if they think it would be legitimate, or perhaps even desirable, to reimpose literacy tests in the future. Standing for repeal of the VRA, Hasen said, is “incredibly radical.”
Indeed, Hasen notes that the VRA originally passed and was reauthorized with broad bipartisan support, and GOP leadership in Congress was critical in helping get it done. In that context, said Hasen, this new shift shows a “real deterioration in the position of the Republican Party.”
All this should also illustrate what an epic scam it is when Republicans claim restrictions on voting are necessary to ensure “confidence” in “election integrity.” A Post analysis found that dozens of GOP candidates across the country who cite “election integrity” as a key goal also happen to be the ones lying that the 2020 election was stolen. What a spectacular coincidence!
This is particularly pronounced in Texas. Republicans already passed a law overflowing with such restrictions, yet they’re still hyping invented voter fraud, a move that’s designed to continue undermining people’s faith in elections.
“The more you talk about the false scourge of voter fraud, the more you undermine people’s confidence,” Hasen said.
That undermined confidence can then be invoked to justify still more restrictions on voting, in a kind of self-reinforcing, ever-escalating feedback loop. Funny how this works, isn’t it?