Monday, April 12, 2010

Purity Pledge For Texas GOP

Texas state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) announced the formation of a new political action committee, the Independent Conservative Republicans of Texas. Most of the Republicans in the state senate and over half in the house were invited and joined the PAC. Notable names absent include Richardson legislators Sen. John Carona (District 16) and Rep. Angie Chen Button (District 112). GOP candidate Stefani Carter, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Carol Kent (District 102), is not among the list of five GOP primary winners who joined the PAC.

The press release announcing the PAC's formation begins:

"On the eve of the 'Tea Party' movement's anniversary, conservative legislators in Texas have banded together to form a new organization -- the Independent Conservative Republicans of Texas. With conservative voters organizing like never before to protest the unprecedented overreaching intrusion of the federal government, voters need to know there are Republican legislators who share their beliefs and will uphold their principals [sic]."

After the jump, my initial impressions of the new PAC.

First, the name Independent Conservative Republicans is an oxymoron. If you are Independent, then you are not Republican, by definition. That and the fact that the PAC's announcement begins by citing the Tea Party movement tells me this is an attempt to co-opt that movement's enthusiasm and head off any effort to make the Tea Party, in fact, a political force independent of the Republican Party.

The PAC says it was founded on five core principles:

  • Stand for conservative principals [sic] and to put people before Party.
  • Fiscally accountable, limit the size of government, and fight for free market principles.
  • Protect our borders and to support a strong military.
  • Protect life, support strong family values, and uphold the Judeo-Christian beliefs our nation was founded upon.
  • Honor the Constitution and protect the sovereign rights of Texas.

The first principle, to stand for principle, is redundant. And Independent Conservative Republicans standing for "conservative principals [sic]" is doubly redundant. Having a spelling mistake in your first principle suggests how little review (maybe even thought) this statement received. And doesn't that "and" make it six principles? But who's counting?

Leaving the problems with the first principle aside, these are all motherhood and apple pie platitudes. I don't see anything in these core principles that Democrats don't support as well. Claiming ownership of such platitudes, implying your political opponents don't share those values, may make for good politics, but it doesn't make it true.

The tough part of governing is applying these platitudes to specific problems facing society. For example, how do you limit the size of government and still provide a strong military and protect our borders? How can you protect life and uphold Judeo-Christian values while letting tens of millions of Americans struggle without health insurance? How do you honor the Constitution's guarantee of free speech without allowing speech that's offensive to family values?

As long as our nation's political discourse is stuck at the level of platitude, as long as we demonize our political opponents by implying they don't also value the same motherhood and apple pie platitudes we do, we are just playing politics, not solving problems. At first glance, the Independent Conservative Republicans of Texas seems to be all about politics. My hope is that John Carona, Angie Chen Button and Stefani Carter share my discomfort and that explains their absence from the roster of charter members. I eagerly await any public comment they will have.


Mark Steger said...

Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) is now listed as a founding member. :-(

Mark Steger said...

Angie Chen Button, too, has now signed on as a founding member. :-(