The filing window hasn’t even opened for candidates to secure a place on the primary election ballots for the 2018 mid-term elections, yet online political ads boasting of their “conservative credentials” are already dotting my Facebook feed.
In rural Texas, where I live, the Republican candidate in any race is going to win 70-90 percent of the vote. In suburban Texas, the GOP wins with 52-60 percent of the vote. Therefore, he who gets elected in Texas wins that office during the primary elections.
So, a Republican seeking office in Texas doesn’t need to convince his district he’s the right man for the job, he need only convince other Republicans he’s the right man for the job. And how does one do that? He convinces GOP primary voters that he’s not only conservative, but more conservative than the other guy.
So, we wind up with candidates from Governor all the way down to city dog catcher running on a platform of “I’m the only real conservative in the race.” Which is bad enough, but once the elections are over and the legislature convenes, the entire 140 day session is dedicated to helping the incumbents compile a conservative resume that will fortify them against any insurgent primary challenges in the coming election cycle.
Currently, Texas education is in a pressure cooker. Expenses are skyrocketing due to increasing enrollment as Americans follow economic opportunities in the Lone Star State, and as state and federal regulations and requirements drive up their administrative costs.
One has to look no further than the stacks of paperwork it takes to get a kid signed up for the school year to see that the bureaucracy has been bloated by federal and state mandates, some of which have no more purpose than to provide political footing for special interests. Who pays for that bloated bureaucracy? The local districts.
The Teacher Retirement System is always on the brink, and with the skyrocketing costs of healthcare (driven by the Affordable Care Act) and infrastructure improvements, the state has no additional funding to offer schools.
It’s a complex problem that will take hearings, investigations and real legislative initiative to unwind. But taking on an issue like that does not build conservative cred, so the legislature argues about bathrooms.
Bathrooms. I find it ridiculous that we even have to legislate this issue. I supported the bathroom bill, but the whole issue is brought up to give conservative lawmakers the opportunity to build conservative credentials for the upcoming election, and to undermine those who aren’t “on the team.”
The Republicans won Texas during the 1990s with a message of limited government, expanded personal liberty, and a cultural revival (through tough on crime initiatives and pro-family initiatives.)
At this point, the Texas Republican Party is at the height of its power in Texas. The party hasn’t wielded this much power since Reconstruction. We have a real opportunity to reform the Texas government in a way that opens up even more economic opportunity, expands and improves public education, and protects the rights of the individual.
We have the opportunity to present, and execute a vision of Texas that will elevate the standard of living for all involved.
However, that vision will never be illuminated nor realized if our political discourse doesn’t progress beyond who is the most conservative. With more blue-state voters moving into Texas, the clock is running out for the GOP to get it together.