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Winship writes: "Imagine the official presentation of a worldview concocted by conspiracy theorists and an assortment of cranks and grumpy people. Conjure a document written by scribes possessed of poison pens soaked in the inkpots of Ayn Rand and the Brothers Grimm, caught in the grip of a dark dystopian fantasy of dragons and specters, in which everyone's wrong but thee and me and we're not sure of thee."

Ayn Rand would love the new GOP platform in Texas. (photo: Barnes & Noble Review)
Ayn Rand would love the new GOP platform in Texas. (photo: Barnes & Noble Review)


Texas GOP's Platform Is an Ayn Randian Fever Dream

By Michael Winship, Moyers & Company

29 July 14

 

Corporal punishment? You bet. Guns? Yes, please, more! Compassionate conservatism looks *progressive* by comparison

magine the official presentation of a worldview concocted by conspiracy theorists and an assortment of cranks and grumpy people. Conjure a document written by scribes possessed of poison pens soaked in the inkpots of Ayn Rand and the Brothers Grimm, caught in the grip of a dark dystopian fantasy of dragons and specters, in which everyone’s wrong but thee and me and we’re not sure of thee.

In the spirit of the Alamo, this is a work straight out of the 19th century with no option for surrender.

No, this is not some “Game of Thrones” spinoff. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the official 2014 platform of the Republican Party of Texas, 40 pages of unrestrained, right-wing bluster against you name it — women, minorities, immigrants, Muslims, gays, Obamacare, the Internal Revenue Service, red light cameras, the EPA, the World Bank, vaccinations — well, you get the picture. In the spirit of the Alamo, this is a work straight out of the 19th century with no option for surrender.

Pick a page, any page, and you’ll find yourself pitched through the rabbit hole into an alternate reality. Homosexuality? “… Chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible… Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples.”

But it can be cured! The Texas Republicans “recognize the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle.”

That’s about as close to George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” as the good ole boys (and 12 or so women) of the platform committee get. Corporal punishment? By all means: spare the rod and spoil the child. Guns, yes, please, more! “No level of government shall regulate either the ownership or possession of firearms.” Foreign aid – no way, “except in cases of national defense or catastrophic disasters, with congressional approval.”

As for public schools, who needs them? “Since data is clear that additional money does not translate into educational achievement, and higher education costs are out of control, we support reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education institutions.” And Social Security – let ‘em eat pork rinds: “We support an immediate and orderly transition to a system of private pensions based on the concept of individual retirement accounts, and gradually phasing out the Social Security tax.”

Roe v. Wade must be overturned: “We revere the sanctity of human life.” And yet, “Properly applied capital punishment is legitimate, is an effective deterrent, and should be swift and unencumbered.” Climate change is “a political agenda which attempts to control every aspect of our lives. We urge government at all levels to ignore any plea for money to fund global climate change or ‘climate justice’ initiatives.” This despite the assessment of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that “Large sections of the state are experiencing exceptional or extreme drought.”

Global diplomacy: “We support the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations and the removal of United Nations headquarters from United States soil.” Oh, and by the way, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi.

The Texas GOP supports repealing the 17th Amendment, which in 1913 established the direct election of US senators by the voters, taking that power away from state legislatures, which famously could be bought for pretzels and cheese.

All of this is disturbing enough, but what may be the most troubling are the platform planks urging the elimination of virtually any federal authority, the repeal of certain parts of the Constitution or insisting on archaic interpretations that most of us thought were put to bed more than a century ago. Executive decisions by any agency would have to be approved by Congress and as for all “unelected bureaucrats” – you mean civil servants, too? – “…we urge Congress to use their constitutional authority to defund and abolish these positions and return authority to duly elected officials.” Further, the FBI, DEA, ATF, immigration officers – ANY federal enforcement activities within Texas “must be conducted under the auspices of the county sheriff with jurisdiction in that county.”

The Texas GOP supports repealing the 17th Amendment, which in 1913 established the direct election of US senators by the voters, taking that power away from state legislatures, which famously could be bought for pretzels and cheese. In the Gilded Age, in part because of the ease of wholesale bribery at the state level, corporations like Standard Oil and Union Pacific had the US Senate in their pocket (not that it’s much better these days).

In their frenzied dreamland, what’s left of the Voting Rights Act would be repealed and more stringent restrictions on who’s allowed to vote would be put in place, further disenfranchising minorities. What’s more, Congress is to “withhold Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom and the Bill of Rights” (!) and the Texas state legislature is to “ignore, oppose, refuse, and nullify any federal mandated legislation which infringes upon the states’ 10th Amendment Right.” State nullification of federal law has been consistently forbidden by the Supreme Court since 1809 and, with slavery, was at the core of the losing Confederate cause 150 years ago. Then it was again used unsuccessfully by those opposed to the civil rights movement of the sixties. Still, it refuses to go away, like an antibiotic-resistant strain of strep.

In their frenzied dreamland, what’s left of the Voting Rights Act would be repealed and more stringent restrictions on who’s allowed to vote would be put in place, further disenfranchising minorities.

No wonder the current slogan of Texas’ official tourism campaign is, “It’s like a whole other country.” They ain’t just whistling “Dixie.”

But for all the platform’s Texas-style bravado, there is no mention of Governor Rick Perry’s much touted “Texas miracle,” his and other state Republicans’ boast that since 2009, “about 48 percent of all the jobs created in America were in Texas” due to low taxes and little regulation. There is in the document a general opposition to taxes, a call for the elimination of the minimum wage and this: “We believe that a favorable business climate and strong economy emerges when government is limited by low taxation, sensible regulation, and tort reform. The American private sector powers our economy and is the true creator of jobs.”

Maybe the bragging was backburnered because, as Phillip Longman points out inWashington Monthly magazine, the state may have no income tax, “But Texas has sales and property taxes that make its overall burden of taxation on low-wage families much heavier than the national average, while the state also taxes the middle class at rates as high or higher than in California…

And unlike in California, middle-class families in Texas don’t get the advantage of having rich people share equally in the cost of providing government services. The top 1 percent in Texas have an effective tax rate of just 3.2 percent. That’s roughly two-fifths the rate that’s borne by the middle class, and just a quarter the rate paid by all those low-wage ‘takers’ at the bottom 20 percent of the family income distribution. This Robin-Hood-in-reverse system gives Texas the fifth-most-regressive tax structure in the nation.

Middle- and lower-income Texans in effect make up for the taxes the rich don’t pay in Texas by making do with fewer government services, such as by accepting a K-12 public school system that ranks behind forty-one other states, including Alabama, in spending per student.

In the words of “Texas on the Brink,” the annual report written by the progressive Legislative Study Group, a research caucus in the Texas House, “In Texas today, the American dream is distant. Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured adults in the nation. Texas is dead last in percentage of high school graduates. Our state generates more hazardous waste and carbon dioxide emissions than any other state in our nation. If we do not change course, for the first time in our history, the Texas generation of tomorrow will be less prosperous than the generation of today.”

Instead of real solutions trying to come to grips with real problems, the Texas GOP went for the chimerical bucket list of the extreme right.

Instead of real solutions trying to come to grips with real problems, the Texas GOP went for the chimerical bucket list of the extreme right. Granted, there are plenty of excellent reasons to be angry with the federal government, and like any party platform this document is more for show than anything else. But it is a frightening reminder of what’s happening within the Republican Party in Texas and elsewhere in the country. As Mark Binelli recentlywrote in Rolling Stone, “After nearly six years of pumping out cynical horror stories involving our nefarious president and a Washington bureaucracy run amok, the right-wing fear machine has managed to reduce its target audience to a quivering state of waking nightmare, jumping at shadows.

If, to paraphrase Baudelaire by way of The Usual Suspects, the devil’s greatest trick was to convince the world he didn’t exist, the modern GOP’s greatest trick might have been convincing its electorate that he does, and that the federal government exists as some kind of infernal machine. While impressive, this trick has also proved to be a very dangerous one, as states of panic have a tendency to produce rather extreme results.

Binelli quotes Texas Democratic strategist Harold Cook:

“When I moved to Austin in 1989, Texas politicians were conservative in the classic sense of the term: They wanted to make sure government was small and unintrusive. There were pretty strong libertarian and populist streaks, and that still exists among the electorate, but what’s new, I think, is a litmus test driven by the Tea Party wing, where if you’re not mad enough, if you don’t demonstrate a certain level of hatred, then your motives are suspect. Your final votes on legislation don’t matter. These two politicians might be voting exactly alike – but the one the Tea Party loves is running around the district all the time screaming about how much he hates Obama.”

More than 150 years ago, the state’s governor, Sam Houston, hero of the Texas War of Independence, recognized this same spirit of suicidal extremism, tinctured with bigotry and fantasy, infecting his fellow Texans as they prepared to leave the United States and join forces with the Confederacy. Houston, while no fan of abolition, warned against secession; that the South would be overwhelmed. In a speech on September 22, 1860, at a mass meeting in Austin, he declared, “You are asked to plunge into a revolution; but are you told how to get out of it? Not so; but it is to be a leap in the dark — a leap into an abyss, whose horrors would even fright the mad spirits of disunion who tempt you on…

“Are we to sell reality for a phantom?”

The Texas GOP – and far too many others — say yes.

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+23 # Dust 2014-07-29 11:22
Um... proof read much??
 
 
+5 # Nominae 2014-07-29 23:33
Quoting Dust:
Um... proof read much??


Yeah ..... this article was obviously professionally proofread to the most rigorous standards of a graduate of the Texas Educational System.
 
 
+15 # hd70642 2014-07-29 11:28
How much LSD did they consume I can not imagine any human being able manage to conjure such lurid fantasy with out having having their minds totally polluted with vast amounts of LSD . Their realty checks bounces more than a pinball in play in the who's Rock opera Tommy !
 
 
+12 # jon 2014-07-29 13:10
They show the results of years of listening to AM Radio.

I think a good dose of LSD would give them all an improved perspective.
 
 
+1 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-07-29 20:09
No, Jack Daniels.
 
 
+32 # Regina 2014-07-29 11:41
Ayn Rand was certifiably insane. What else could her present-day adherents be? Don't look for logic from loonies.
 
 
+9 # jamesnimmo 2014-07-29 12:04
Texas and any other state that wants to should be allowed to secede from the Union. This is too great a land area to function coherently: too many stark differences in geography,ethni city, climate, and economy.
 
 
+11 # Buddha 2014-07-29 12:43
You are getting a lot of negatives, so I certainly will also, but I am in complete agreement with you.

First is because I am from CA, which as a Blue "donor state" pays $60B/yr more in federal taxes than we get back in federal spending, we are subsidizing the very Red States who are dragging us all down. CA on its own would have the world's 8th largest GDP, and that $60B/yr could be spent here far better in fixing our roads, our schools, our energy and water systems, etc.

Second is that in an America that peacefully "Balkanizes" into more philosophically aligned nations wouldn't have a mostrous $1T/yr global military Empire anymore, we would get back to guarding our own shores without the foreign adventurism, again freeing up more money to help ALL of us, no matter which new "American Sub-nation" you reside in.

Third is Washington DC's complete dysfunction and actual outright corruption. Flush it down the toilet, and start over at the "Mini-State" level, at a minimum it should be more responsive to its people than the Federal Government is today.

If we aren't going to "Balkanize" like this, then at a minimum we need a new Constitutional Convention. But I would imagine these Red States would screw THAT up too just like they did the first Constitution by leaving open slavery, etc.
 
 
+12 # economagic 2014-07-29 15:14
So you would rather permit Texas (and with it, several other states of the old Confederacy) to reinstate racial segregation if not chattel slavery (why not?), abolish public schools while requiring the teaching of (selective) "Biblical literalism" statewide, outlaw abortion entirely, abolish the minimum wage (and with it unemployment insurance and workers' compensation), abolish the vote for all but white male landowners, kill all life in the Gulf or Mexico and pollute the air from Arkansas to Maine, and declare war on its neighbors at will?

Be careful what you ask for. . . .
 
 
+1 # Buddha 2014-07-30 08:36
If we in America cannot (and should not) enforce our will over other nations in that regard, then why should it bother me in this hypothetical case? Are we able to stop China from denuding our oceans and polluting today, especially when we ourselves can't even stop fracking from turning our aquifers into polluted flammable cancerous swill, and "Freedom Enterprises" polluters from spilling coal-chemicals in our rivers?

Plus, I think the best way for "change" to come to those States is for them to see the success of the alternatives. If a "Republic of California" became one of the strongest nations on the Earth just by implementation of some basic wise Progressive policies, those new countries would look at their hell-hole and decide to follow our example. But right now, they are PREVENTING wise policies for ALL of us through their control in Washington.
 
 
+6 # Milarepa 2014-07-29 12:09
Love the Brothers Grimm!
 
 
+32 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2014-07-29 12:11
All our messes come from Texas — the infested breeding ground of rightwing insanity.

I once read that the Texas legislature opens a new legislative session by taking a ceremonial vote on whether or not to secede from the Union — the UNION, as in AMERICA. Even if that's not true, the Texas Nationalist Movement is in full-blown Texan-blowhard mode. I hope they vote to secede. I also hope any state that is more loyal to itself than to America — like Texas — also votes to secede. At least their not-so-veiled sedition will be on record.

The LAST thing I want to hear from any Texan cretin or any histrionically anti-Fed from my or any other state is how uber-patriotic of an American they are. To me, they are no more American than Vladimir Putin.
 
 
+1 # Nominae 2014-07-30 00:05
Quoting Reductio Ad Absurdum:

.... I hope they vote to secede. I also hope any state that is more loyal to itself than to America — like Texas — also votes to secede. At least their not-so-veiled sedition will be on record....


Your comments may strike some as shocking, but "facts is facts".

I recall how appalled I was to discover via friends living there, that the Texas School System (which gets to "approve" over half of the textbooks used in *ALL* U.S. Schools), does not even *teach* American History (except in a few rare High Schools).

In the rest of Texas K-12 Schools, they teach TEXAS "history" all the way thru, *not* American "history", and here I was wondering why Texans *so* frequently, and almost literally, "foam at the mouth" over the mere mention of their otherwise fairly "average" (to be generous) and boring (I'm lookin' at *you*, West Texas) State.

This condition of history lessons in Texas *may* have changed in more recent years. One can hope.

Texas *is* large in terms of area, to be sure, but since the admission of Alaska to the Union, I enjoy teasing Texans with the idea that there are plans to "Quarter" Alaska, making Texas the fifth largest State in the Union. (A *bit* of an exaggeration which Texans seldom notice in their ensuing state of apoplexy ;-D).

Way too many Texans have been literally indoctrinated with the "religion" of loving Texas from the time they were at their mother's knees.

Explains a *lot* to me !
 
 
+8 # NatsFan 2014-07-29 12:50
The sloppy proof-reading really distracts from the article's message.
 
 
0 # John_Fisher 2014-07-31 13:34
Quoting NatsFan:
The sloppy proof-reading really distracts from the article's message.

Agree. When I saw the headline, as a (rare)liberal native Texan and fan of Moyers & Co., I thought, I'll post this on FB, etc. But I'd be embarrassed to do so in its current uncorrected form. The absolutely valid message gets lost in annoyance at the repeated sentences out of context.
 
 
+8 # Pedro 2014-07-29 13:20
In the words of Will Rogers, I never met a republican Texan I liked.
 
 
+6 # happycamper690 2014-07-29 13:31
We would all be better off if the Texas legislature got its way and left the rest of us alone. They take more than a dollar for every dollar of US tax revenue. Without them, the rest of us would be better off. But, hold on, most demographers say that around 2020 Texas will turn purple and not much after that be blue. That is something I hope I live long enough to see.
 
 
+1 # Malcolm 2014-07-29 13:35
Finally, a state where I can easily differentiate between Dims and 'Thuglicans! (I hope; I haven't seen the Dems' platform in that state. Not to mention that Texas had the highest percentage of congressmen elected under the Democratic Party banner I've ever seen, back in the 50's and 60's, before I fled the state, heading out to the-mostly-libe ral west coast.)
 
 
+7 # Malcolm 2014-07-29 14:07
All you radicals who think all Texans are cretins, unlike able, un patriotic, etc, guess what? 39% of texans are democrats. Only 51% consider themselves republicans. So get a grip, already!

There are plenty of fine people living in Texas-just like any other state. In fact, when I used to live there, I never heard the kind of hate speech I see on this site today.
 
 
+16 # bmiluski 2014-07-29 14:16
Wow Malcom, you've lived a sheltered life if you think this site is bad. Try visiting a neo-con republican site. It'll make you sick to your stomach.
 
 
-4 # Malcolm 2014-07-30 05:44
Reading comprehension check!

I said "TODAY".
 
 
0 # Malcolm 2014-07-31 11:05
Four thumbs down
 
 
+6 # economagic 2014-07-29 15:18
So we should not be surprised that Republicans win most political races in Texas by a margin of roughly 56% to 43%? (51 is 56% of 51+39)
 
 
+2 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2014-07-31 10:15
MALCOLM, take your own advice about reading comprehension. No one said all Texans are cretins or unpatriotic. Here are my exact words:

"The LAST thing I want to hear from any Texan cretin or any histrionically anti-Fed from my or any other state is how uber-patriotic of an American they are."
 
 
+6 # Art947 2014-07-29 14:36
I believe that I have a plan that may solve the problem for most loyal Americans. Provide a copy of this platform to every voting-age resident of Texas. Let the individuals decide whether or not they agree with the document. If they don't, then they are probably willing to live under the democratic republican principles upon which the U.S.A. was founded. If they agree with the principles as outlined, then offer the individual a choice of countries to which they can be deported as they have already renounced their allegiance to the principles of America!
 
 
+4 # fredboy 2014-07-29 14:52
Texas is toast.
 
 
+9 # torch and pitchfork 2014-07-29 15:28
Awfully disturbing that the people who buy into the Texas/Republica n platform show up to vote and outnumber the sane.
 
 
+8 # ericlipps 2014-07-29 17:39
[bold]Texas GOP's Platform Is an Ayn Randian Fever Dream[/bold]

Isn't that redundant?

I've read enough of Rand's work (teeth gritted all the way; she was a godawful writer who couldn't resist lecturing, indeed preaching, at the expense of actual storytelling) to know that ALL her writing seemed like a fever dream.
 
 
+4 # Texan 4 Peace 2014-07-29 21:12
The Texas State GOP's platform explicitly rejected "critical thinking" in education. No lie.
 
 
+6 # Nominae 2014-07-29 23:27
Quoting Texan 4 Peace:
The Texas State GOP's platform explicitly rejected "critical thinking" in education. No lie.


Isn't that a hoot ? And yet, quite darkly, a rejection of critical thinking is a totally logical - even predictable - outcome resulting from the assumption of a "platform" like anti-science to begin with.

Such willful and deliberate stupidity - such *aggressive* idolatry and pride in ignorance is not new to the World, but these collective boneheads certainly seem to take it to an incredible level.

This very "political platform" is nothing more than a thinly veiled and childish attempt to "legislate" the Texas secession from the Union that these people have, (perhaps sadly) never been able to effect in actuality.

Great reference to Texas "hero" Sam Houston above. It stops short of mentioning the fact that the *same day* that Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas *did* warn the Texas Legislature against the folly of "firin' up a war" with the Industrialized North, the legislature, in an apoplexy of the same wisdom and foresight that they seem somehow to *still* retain to this day, *DEPOSED* Sam Houston as President the same day he made those comments.

Sam Houston, after all, was one of the very few Texans who had actually *traveled* North to see for *himself* what was meant by the phrase: "Industrialized Military Force".

As ever, Texas fantasy prevailed. Out with Houston, in with ignorance and arrogance.
 
 
+2 # The Buffalo Guy 2014-07-29 22:47
Yep! I have friends who swear by Ayn Rand and one talked me into reading Atlas Shrugged. I never read so much nonsense in my life and the only element that I found to be true is that it was fiction. Yes, FICTION!!!! Alice in wonderland was a better read. The shame is that I had to lower some friends on the "respect" page and now I have to confirm whatever they tell me. They're high on my VOODOO page now. Right up there with the George Bushes and those two are Texas Good Old Boys.
 
 
+3 # Milarepa 2014-07-30 07:49
The late Thomas Naylor built a strong secession movement in Vermont. The US is an old sweater - once one state secedes, the whole thing will unravel. To the benefit of America and the entire world! I mean, why not? What have we got to lose!
 
 
+5 # opinionaire 2014-07-30 10:20
I have come to believe that growing up over land that has "black gold" in copious amounts under it is hazardous to intellectual/em otional/ethical development. Consider the vast number of "hot spots" around the globe.
 
 
+5 # walthe310 2014-07-30 12:21
Nullification is the doctrine that a state can declare a federal law null and void and not obey it. The American Civil War was fought over states' rights, nullification and slavery. The South lost and slavery died. States' rights and nullification advocates are still with us.

During the Civil War, the Union was defended by the Republicans and states' rights, nullification and slavery were defended by the Democrats. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the two parties switched sides. Now the Union is defended by the Democrats and states' rights, nullification and the former slave-states of the South are represented by the Republican Party.

The Republican Party at this time has embraced nullification. They are attempting to nullify the results of the 2008 and 2012 elections in which the voters elected and then re-elected President Obama. The doctrine of nullification was on the losing side in the Civil War. We must not let it be victorious now. The election in November, 2014, is all about nullification.
 
 
0 # socrates2 2014-08-03 00:13
Texas: I remain convinced there's something in the water...
Be well.
 

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