As I write this, the Texas Democratic Party, all 12 of them, will meet for their annual convention next week in Austin. There, they will hammer out their party platform to succeed the last one, which resembles a list of demands in a 1968 college sit-in.
I'll write about it then, but for now, Texas Republicans have already put their platform together after a tumultuous meeting in Houston. The planks they assembled read like a cross between a QAnon website and cocktail napkin scribblings by Rudy Giuliani and Phyllis Schlafly after a three-day bender.
Let's start with the silliest proposal, and one that seemingly has a lot of support, at least judging by bumper stickers. Texas should secede from the union. Now, many of you might be forgiven for thinking that idea was fairly decisively refuted by that little ruckus in the middle of the 19th century. But like the last battle of the Civil War, which was fought in Texas, these ideas die hard. And the collective brainpower that went into the analysis wouldn't run your fridge during an ERCOT blackout.
For starters, it's illegal. The Constitution provides no mechanism for it, and the Supreme Court ruled on this in 1869. It was called White vs Texas, and involved US bonds sold by the Confederate government in Texas during the late unpleasantness. The court ruled that the bonds were sold illegally since Texas never really left the union and the whole Confederacy thing was an illegal construct. From the Oyez website...
"In a 5-to-3 decision, the Court held that Texas did indeed have the right to bring suit. The Court held that Texas had remained a state, despite joining the Confederate States of America and its being under military rule at the time of the decision. The Court further held that individual states could not unilaterally secede from the Union and that the acts of the insurgent Texas legislature--even if ratified by a majority of Texans--were "absolutely null." Even during the period of rebellion, however, the Court found that Texas continued to be a state."
So, were I at the convention in Houston, I might have made a motion that we all adjourn to a library for some research. I did a story on the Texas Nationalist movement back in 2010 and visited their then vice-president Lawrence Savage in the town of Coffee City, hard by the shore of Lake Palestine.
“This idea that it’s illegal or unconstitutional…it’s never been taken to court,” Savage claimed. “We know the US cannot do its job anymore. It cannot protect our economy. It’s cannot protect our dollar. It cannot protect our borders. So what’s left? We might as well stand on our own.”
"In 1869 the Supreme Court in Texas v. White settled the whole issue," says Dr. Alex Mendoza of UT-Tyler. "The Supreme Court Justices in a 5 to 3 decision, Salmon P. Chase, said explicitly, that Texas never left the union, that the United States is not a compact of states, that it is an indissoluble union."
But, the Nationalists say, we can get along on our own very nicely.
“And we have the 11th largest economy in the world as it stands right now,” Savage claims. “So, we’re being held back.”
"Was the Republic of Texas actually a success?” Mendoza asks. “Since it couldn't provide money or defense. And men like Houston knew this, and as a result of this, actively moved toward the thought of annexation.'
“There are politicians that want to see Texas free,” according to Savage.
Sam Houston, though, would disagree.
"He thought it would be a calamity,” Mendoza said. “Up until his death 2 years after the original secession convention, he thought it was the biggest mistake Texas had ever made.”
The Texas Nationalists website, for example, talks about how the state would defend itself... In addition, it would provide a level of funding to, over time, increase our inventory of military vehicles including naval vessels, fighters and support aircraft, and armored vehicles. Building on the current military infrastructure in the Texas Military Department (TMD), Texas will grow the components of the TMD into a world-class military force capable of addressing any threat to the safety and security of Texas posed by any who would do us harm.
That inventory of military vehicles, tanks, planes, naval vessels, even rifles all belong to the United States, not Texas. Then there's money to mint, tax policy, foreign relations, US benefits like the VA and Social Security and more. In short, it's a completely impractical idea, but ask me if I'm surprised it was included in the GOP platform. Go ahead, ask me.
In fact, I got a press release from the "Texas Nationalist Movement" lauding the fact that the convention voted 90% in favor of a state referendum on independence. For heaven's sake, does no one in the party own a Wikipedia machine?
Elsewhere in the platform, the ownership of guns is described as a "God-given right." Think about that phraseology for a moment. OK, time's up. That's just sacrilegious. If you favor the 2nd Amendment fervently, OK. But don't drag the Almighty into this. You know, that whole "live by the sword, die by the sword" thing?
The platform then calls for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its updated forms to "be repealed and not reauthorized." The Justice Department calls the act "the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever adopted" by Congress. But I suspect this is cover for even more discriminatory gerrymandering. Again, tell me I'm wrong.
Of course, Social Security should be privatized, which would be a disaster. Don't expand Medicaid, in fact, reduce it. Repeal Obamacare, of course. They gave up on the replacement part. Eliminate several cabinet departments like Energy, Education, HHS, etc. In fact, there is so much dismantling of government in this document that Grover Norquist must be in a perpetual state of tumescence.
Ignore gay folks and don't teach anything divisive in our public schools, like slavery, the Texas Revolution, Indian wars, etc. That is code for anything that reflects badly on, well, you know...us (nudge, nudge, wink wink). There is a line in the movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
Now, I know for a fact that Dan Patrick is a big John Wayne fan, as we drunkenly traded movie lines at Astros Fantasy Camp years ago. Yes, Joel Osteen, I said, drunkenly. But I am a little annoyed that the Liberty Valance ethos has become state policy. This platform even gets down to the granular conspiracies like power company smart meters. Yes, they think the meters are sending information about your family along with how much power you're using.
And the icing on a cake already covered in tin foil, the platform states, as a matter of party belief, in front of God and everyone, that Joe Biden was not lawfully elected. Now, you don't have to be a Biden fan, or even lukewarm about him to acknowledge, especially after all that has been testified to, that he was elected, for crying out loud. How did all these Republicans manage it in the same election? It's a mystery that only can be solved using smart thermostats and Chinese rice paper.
This is the convention where Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who has actually brought home the bacon for the state, was booed for even talking to Democrats about guns, which is also prohibited in the platform by the way. And Ted Cruz (R-Cancun) was cheered even though, deprived of news coverage, he would melt like the Wicked Witch of the West.
I described it last week as a letter to Santa from the Big Lie crowd, and if you read it, I think you'll agree. That is after you lift your jaw off the floor. There is one plank though, that might be the beginning of some sort of detente for the parties. The GOP calls for marijuana to be moved from a Class 1 narcotic to Class 2. That is a lesser ranking, meaning it has some beneficial uses. For an old hippie in my 7th decade, I'm willing to take that as hopeful.
Now, he is part of the Texas Outlaw Writers, and if this doesn't pan out, the outlaw part will still work as he will indeed resort to robbing banks.