Nothing Left To Hide
The Texas Republican Convention made it abundantly clear: there is no daylight between the "extreme" and "mainstream" in the GOP
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This weekend the Republican Party of Texas met in Houston for the first time in four years. The results were predictably offensive. What emerged was a platform so extreme and radical that it left many shaking their heads. But anyone paying attention is less than surprised as the GOP has very publicly and noticeably careened off the political cliff and submerged itself totally in a radicalized reality.
Despite assurances from institutionalists of all stripes - whether in the media or even, depressingly, in the White House - that Republicans would emerge from the Trump years a new and more sensible body, it’s now undeniable that that hope was little more than a self-serving fairy-tale. Donald Trump may be in exile in his gaudy and embarrassing Mar-a-Lago resort, but the fascistic worldview and project he represented is still alive and well. In fact, it’s thriving.
Over the course of three days, Texas Republicans pushed forward an agenda that should serve as an alarm for anyone still grasping at hope that this situation will simply solve itself.
According to The Texas Tribune, it includes the following troubling items:
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.
Of course, we live in a political moment where so many of these planks are regular talking points of GOP figures and pundits, but to see them so fervently embraced by a statewide party is telling. As many of us have warned over and over and OVER again, the rhetoric used by these politicians and networks and websites and provocateurs eventually influences the positioning on the ground level. Voters are prepared to accept framing and policies that prime them for action that would be previously unthinkable.
To work our way through the list is to wrestle with some of the more disturbing aspects of the American Right.
Continuing a nationwide trend, the GOP is using its donor-funded attack on public education to insert its own indoctrination, in this case to push a pro-control agenda focused on eradicating the autonomy of women to control their own bodies.
In a country beset by an epidemic of gun violence that not only results in mass school shootings that rob children of their safety and lives but also damns the rest of us to lives of terror and anxiety as regular existence now involves shootouts and petty arguments that lead to murder, they have set the state on a path toward an even more dangerous path beset on all sides with more and more guns.
Defining “homosexuality” as “an abnormal lifestyle choice,” it begins a crusade to treat gay Americans as deranged and dangerous. This, as past regimes have shown us, is an incredibly troubling precedent as children can be taken from parents and “deviants” can be imprisoned, tortured, or even killed.
On a similar note, transgenderism is targeted because of course it is. When an authoritarian movement has ambitions to control society it must first control reality. And where we are currently going, unless we fight back, is a society prejudiced toward, and aggressively at war with, transgender people.
Texas’s war against taxes has a long and problematic history, but make no mistake: the GOP will not only fight to roll back taxes, but more than likely, as they have before, turn it into an aggressive weapon for redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top. And, I doubt I have to explain why limiting the number of Supreme Court justices is applied, but in case I do it is simply a matter of rigging a system they have co-opted by stealing the institution.
The battle between Texas and California, both ideologically but also population-wise, is a subject we should all become familiar with. As federal power is intentionally restricted by the wealthy, states have taken the lead and are currently feuding with one another over population change. Texas has spent unbelievable amounts of money and political capital to lure Republicans and libertarians from California, including a dogged attempt to poach the tech sector, which is dominated by wealth-obsessed demigods like Elon Musk.
This plank emphasizing the “essential” right of businesses seems like a pandemic feint, but hides a ton of problematic interpretations, including the possibility that the Right will likely push to re-legalize segregation as a “business choice,” with an emphasis not only on race but sex and sexual orientation.
For anyone paying attention, cryptocurrencies are a tool of the Far Right for not just laundering money but trafficking it to shadowy projects in order to conceal participation.
And, to top it all off, the GOP of Texas happily endorsed the Big Lie that the Election of 2020 was stolen and that Joe Biden is an “illegitimate president.” The rancid cherry on top, as it were.
There is no arguing about who the GOP is and what they believe. The people who wanted you to hope they would return to “normalcy” post-Trump, that they would “wake up” or “shake off their fever,” were either delusional, complicit, or both simultaneously. Whether Donald Trump ever runs for office again, whether he is prosecuted, whether he so much as utters another word, does not matter ideologically. What he represented - again, as a symptom of a larger disease - was within the Republican Party all along and simply came raging into the open air.
This is the GOP.
This is what they believe.
This is what they plan to do and what they want to accomplish.
There’s simply no denying it anymore.