UPDATE: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that immigration is likely to be a key point of contention in the Texas GOP’s platform debate this weekend. Other platform proposals are expected from “birthers” who don’t believe President Obama is a natural-born U.S. citizen and people who want Republicans to support the Constitution against threats by “Sharia law adherents living in the United States of America and the rest of the world.”
Will Texas Republicans this weekend succeed in loosening the grip that the religious right and other extremist factions have over their state party? We’ll find out when the Texas GOP holds its 2010 convention Friday and Saturday (June 11-12) at the Dallas Convention Center, but our guess is traditional conservatives and moderates will be disappointed once again.
The 2008 state Republican platform — as with other platforms since the religious right took control of the Texas GOP in the early 1990s — was a classic exercise in political extremism. Here’s just a taste of what the 2008 platform had to say:
- Separation of church and state is a “myth.”
- Public schools should emphasize instruction on Judeo-Christian principles.
- Government should repeal laws, such as Motor Voter and the Help America Vote Act, that have made voter registration easier for citizens.
- All minimum wage laws should be repealed.
- Public schools should teach nothing about sex education except abstinence-only-until-heterosexual-marriage.
- The United States should withdraw from the United Nations and other international organizations.
- Public school science classes should teach “intelligent design”/creationism alongside evolution.
- Public tax dollars should be used to fund private and religious schools through vouchers.
- Government should criminalize promising medical research using embryonic stem cells, research that many scientists believe offers the most hope for people suffering from serious medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer and spinal cord injuries.
- Congress should pass legislation (the Constitution Restoration Act of 2005) limiting (including by threat of impeachment) the power of federal courts, including the Supreme Court, to hear challenges to actions by government or government officials that may have violated the Constitution’s establishment clause protecting religious freedom.
- Texas should once again criminalize private and consensual sexual intimacy between people of the same sex, bar adoption by gay and lesbian parents, and restrict the freedom of a gay parent from visiting his or her own biological child.
Why are we pessimistic that Texas Republicans will move their platform closer to the political center? For one thing, the convention’s Platform Committee appears stocked with plenty of Eagle Forum activists and other religious-righters. Here are other some other key members of that committee:
- Mark Ramsey is an anti-science fanatic and head of a far-right group that calls for teaching public school students junk science attacking evolution and supporting “intelligent design”/creationism. Ramsey’s group regularly attacks other Republicans who support teaching about evolution, suggesting that they “are plotting with well known liberals, including pro-abortionists, Darwinists, and ACLU members.”
- Kyleen Wright is head of Texans for Life Coalition, a radical anti-abortion group that adamantly opposes teaching students anything about sex education other than abstinence-only-until-heterosexual-marriage.
- Randy Rives is a former chairman of the Ector County (Odessa) Independent School District Board of Trustees who pushed through the adoption of a deeply flawed, religiously biased Bible course curriculum that got the district sued. (The district agreed to stop using the curriculum.) Rives also succeeded in persuading the board to adopt an abstinence-only, ignorance-based curriculum for sex education classes in a county with one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation.
We will post an analysis of the new Texas Republican Party platform once it becomes available.