Looking for a silver lining following the stunning successes of Texas conservatives in the primary election season and an apparent takeover of the Texas Republican convention last week, Democrats are seemingly claiming a victory of sorts.Or, at least, that’s what much of the media is reporting, especially via the commentary of political columnists.Popular Texas Monthly writer Paul Burka perhaps summed it up best. He declared as “absolute certainty” that the landslide victory of Tea Party favorite Dan Patrick that has ended the tenure of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst will result in Texas turning purple.Burka explained that this would happen because of “train wrecks” and “meltdown(s)” now in Texas’ future under the leadership of someone who has a history of “recklessness and carelessness.”His hyperbolic take on the party platform coming out of the convention was conclusively stated: “… if grownups fail to get a grasp on what is happening to the Republican Party, they are going to see it all go down the drain.”Now, with the dramatic defeat by a political novice of 24-year veteran Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor, the second most powerful member of the House of Representatives, I suppose such opinion would extend to an odd notion of Democrats taking over the whole country.The one thing I haven’t noticed is recognition of who is really making these so-called far-right conservative victories possible.I don’t think it is the Tea Party, nor is it some other entity or movement that is controlling the outcome of elections and the making of Republican policy.No, it is who it always is and has been for more than two centuries in our country — it is “We the People” who get involved and vote.Something else is being missed. None of the current wave of calls to rein in the breathtaking growth and cost of government that has motivated voters to act is new.For instance, here’s a passage from the platform from an earlier Republican convention:“That the people justly view with alarm the reckless extravagance which pervades every department of the Federal Government; that a return to rigid economy and accountability is indispensable to arrest the systematic plunder of the public treasury by favored partisans; while the recent startling developments of frauds and corruptions at the federal metropolis, show that an entire change of Administration is imperatively demanded.”And another one on immigration policy:“That the Republican Party is opposed to any change in our naturalization laws, or any state legislation by which the rights of citizenship hitherto accorded by emigrants from foreign lands shall be abridged or impaired; and in favor of giving a full and efficient protection to the rights of all classes of citizens, whether native or naturalized, both at home and abroad.”And still another, this one on social justice and freedom:“That the new dogma that the Constitution of its own force carries slavery into any or all of the territories of the United States, is a dangerous political heresy, at variance with the explicit provisions of that instrument itself, with cotemporaneous exposition, and with legislative and judicial precedent, is revolutionary in its tendency and subversive of the peace and harmony of the country.”Yes, you have probably recognized that these essential Republican principles were adopted a very long time ago. It was in 1860 leading to the election of Abraham Lincoln.So before we count the current emphasis on these values as extreme and playing into the hands of plans to convert Texas to a Democrat state, history would suggest a very different outcome. You know, like we are seeing now.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. firstname.lastname@example.org