Last weekend the Republican Party of Texas met in an intense state party convention in Houston. After three days of a convention filled with controversy, like the boos received by Senior GOP Senator John Cornyn and an internal fight with the Log Cabin Republicans, the convention approved a 40-page-long Texas GOP platform that has brought even more attention than the already eventful convention.
The platform has a mix of both common Republican talking points and policy positions on a wide variety of issues (government regulation, school choice, CRT, immigration, gun control, etc.), however, the Texas GOP did decide to write some issues in their platform that has proven to be controversial either for people within and/or outside the party, and has been widely covered and criticized by mainstream media outlets.
The most controversial issues that the Texas GOP decided to include in their platform are its definition of homosexuality as an “abnormal lifestyle choice”, the decision to formally label the 2020 election as fraudulent, and the petition to the Texas State Legislature to conduct a referendum on whether the lone star state should secede from the United States.
Rejecting Critical Race Theory and Environemntalism
While most of the attention has been directed towards the most divisive and controversial topics that were passed in the convention, there were more than a hundred policy items approved by the Texas GOP that have been a common staple within the Republican Party over the last few years, and that is not particularly unprecedented to see in a conference that is dominated by very vocal local party activists.
The Texas GOP opposed Democrat’s energy policies, arguing that the party should not accept “environmentalism that obstructs legitimate business interests” and that the country should support more energy production in Texas in order to “support Texas workers and help America’s energy security instead of increasing our reliance on foreign governments that do not benefit America or our allies.” The support for domestic energy production has been a very public stance taken by the GOP in recent months.
The platform also calls for the state to prevent Critical Race Theory from being taught in schools, arguing that CRT is a “post-Marxist ideology that seeks to undermine the system of law and order itself and reduce individuals to their group identity alone.” It also calls for schools to only allow students to compete in sports with peers of their own biological gender, and supports parental rights and overseeing issues like puberty blockers or hormonal therapy.
The Platform also maintains a hardline approach to immigration policy, calling for the federal government to eliminate the green card visa lottery, to implement an entry/exit tracking system for visa holders, opposing any type of “immigration amnesty”, the abolition of the refugee resettlement program, expedite hearings to deport both violent and non-violent illegal immigrants, end “chain migration”, and fix the total number of new immigrants to a “level that facilitates assimilation.”
The party also openly condemned the republican lawmakers that have supported the bipartisan bill on red-flag laws, which is still being discussed and negotiated in the Senate, that has been garnering steam in Congress after the Uvalde massacre. The state party passed a resolution condemning the bill and rebuking the Senators who are currently discussing it, including Texas’ own John Cornyn, who was previously booed while giving a speech on stage in the convention.
These conservative policy proposals are not something new within the party and would not really bring much attention, as platforms of either party are expected to be either very conservative/ very liberal as they are written by committed party members, leaders, and activists. With the exception perhaps of the public rebuke of Cornyn and the rest of the Republican senators debating the red-flag law, most of the platform would probably not have made much news.
The Controversial Planks of the Texas GOP
However, most of the media coverage of the Texas GOP platform has not been dedicated to the party’s views on energy or immigration policy. Most of the buzz and controversy has been dedicated to three planks that were approved by the party regarding the 2020 election, LGBT issues, and a push in favor of a referendum on the secession of Texas from the Union.
One of the two resolutions the party approved (besides the one condemning the red-flag bill) rejects the results of the 2020 presidential elections, arguing that it violated Articles 1 and 2 of the Constitution, saying that secretaries of states “circumvented” their state legislatures during the election, and claiming that “substantial election fraud in key metropolitan areas” gave the presidency to Joe Biden.
The Texas GOP conclude that the president was “not legitimately elected by the people of the United States” and called Biden “acting president.” While many Republican politicians have claimed the 2020 results were fraudulent, this is the first major state GOP party that has included it in its platform.
The grievances over the 2020 election results were not the only contentious issue debated and approved in the Lone Star party conference. The Texas Republican Party also passed a policy plank saying that any policy that infringes Texas’ 10th amendment should be “ignored, opposed, refused, and nullified” and stated that “Texas retains a right to secede from the United States” and called the Texas State Legislature to call for a referendum on Texas’ permanence in the country by 2023.
This is not the first time a high-ranking Texas Republican has made allusions in favor of secession, as former state party chairman Allen West suggested the same last year when he said that “perhaps some law-abiding states should band together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution.” West eventually resigned from his position to make an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for the governorship, where incumbent governor Greg Abbott easily defeated West.
The Texas GOP also approved a very controversial plank on LGBTQ issues, concluding that “homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice” and that there should be no “granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior” and that there should not be “any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.”
The platform plank was approved after a public intraparty fight between the organizers of the conference and the Log Cabin Republicans, an organization of LGBTQ Republicans, as the formers prevented the latter to set up a booth in the conference hall after a 4-3 vote by the state GOP, in a highly controversial move that divided Republican opinion.
The actual effects of this platform remain to be seen. After all, the party platforms are not legal-binding documents and it is extremely unlikely that most of the policies written there would get passed. However, it does show the political atmosphere that is prevalent among many of the activists that are a critical part of the GOP.