Good Friday Austin:
The Texas Republican Convention’s Platform and Resolutions Committee and the Legislative Priorities Committee finished their work late last night with some drama.
The submission of the platform was accompanied by the submission of a far shorter minority report, signed by nine members of the committee and intended to be something the public beyond the 10,000 hard-core Republicans in attendance at the biennial convention San Antonio are likely to read.
The Legislative Priorities Committee, led by Amy Clark, the vice chair of the state party, is a new innovation this convention.
Here, in no particular order, are the five issues it recommends that the full convention identify as the five top issues the party should set as its goals for the next session of the Texas Legislature.
The plank that packed the most emotional wallop, and was attended by the most angst, was on abortion.
As I wrote about in a First Reading earlier in the week, this was a tug of war between the abortion abolitionists, who want Texas to abolish abortion and ignore and resist Roe v. Wade, and what Texas Right to Life describes as the “prudent incrementalist” approach of chipping away, with an aim to ultimately undoing Roe through legislation and the courts.
The 2016 platform adopted the radical abolitionist approach as its priority, and the new language recommended by the new committee, is a hybrid, which leaders on both sides considered mixing “oil and water,” but which the abolitionists especially found distasteful.
In his closing remarks in favor of the compromise plan, Terry Holcomb from San Jacinto County, representing Senate District 3, said that people needed to realize just how radical the implications of at the undiluted abolitionist plank are.
So obviously I’m going to speak in favor but I am going to try to educate this bunch, I mean. I’m the one who wrote the original language, so forth and so one, but when someone says, “All we have to do is ignore Roe,” that shows the literal lack of understanding of the impact this would have, because you wouldn’t just have to ignore Roe, you’d have to arrest DA’s, you’d have to arrest doctors, you might even have to arrest governors and lieutenant governors and all these other people, and the magnitude is something that we need to get our arms around because if we ever decided we had the backbone to abolish abortion, this is what we’d have to do.
It has nothing to do with the federal government, it has to do with what we would do right here in Texas. And that is going to require more than people can possibly imagine. Blood. Tears, Treasure. The whole thing.
While the language they settled on had the support of most of the members of the committee, Melissa Bodenger of Austin, representing Senate District 14, was overcome with emotion with passage of what she considered to be a dangerous and destructive recommendation when Clark called the question.
This is lunacy. No legislator is going to walk out of his office with this. And I’m sorry, but who here signed up to start defying the Constitution? I mean, seriously? Seriously, you’re going to do that? My God, how selfish.
On adjournment, Bodenger was still trembling.
This is the Constitution.
States cannot nullify decisions of the federal courts
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.
They’re going to defy the federal government on purpose.
Why are we blowing a hole in the Constitution? That is what the left does.
From Holcomb after adjournment:
This is compromise language, stating we want to abolish abortion but, until we get there, it offers incremental steps.
He said that the rank-and-file delegates who endorsed the purely abolitionist priority two years ago – and wanted to see it simply reiterated in this platform – really didn’t fully comprehend the implications of what they were saying.
They do not understand the magnitude. They don’t understand what it is actually saying.
It was a more of a political, emotional position without ever really truly looking to understand the reality and the impact.
This is not over. the abolitionist guys are going to be there, first thing out, guaranteed, to try to change it from the floor. This is not final.
Here is the platform and minority report.
The 30-page platform has 331 planks and one resolution – the censure of Rep. Byron Cook.
There is also a seven-page minority report with 81 planks.
It was submitted by nine members of the committee led by Steven Armbruster of Round Rock. It was signed by:
Our platform planks should be strong, clear assertions of the contemporary principles of our party membership. They should unite our membership under shared ideals rather than divide the membership with fractious detail. These assertions should be tailored for brevity, clarity, unity, and to distinguish our positions from those of our opponents.
This platform has planks that define the principles of the Republican Party. In addition to this platform we have included specific action items that would help implement principles in our platform.
The minority report was mostly the handiwork of Armbruster.
I’ve been working on the platform for the last ten years and the number one complaint that I have gotten in the last four years is that the platform is too long, too unruly, too contradictory of its own self and that the average voter doesn’t read it.
The delegates read it because they gave up a weekend, or, in my case, a week of my life to come play politics. But the people I know at church, the people that I know through work and my friends, they’ve never read the platform. It’s so long, they pick it up and thumb through it and say, “I’m not gong to read this.”
It becomes an exercise to produce a document that, once we leave here, nobody reads. The only people who actually use it are the political activists.
My whole point behind this – and I told the members of the committee – this is a one-time deal. I’ll not do this again. I won’t bring a simplified platform again. We get one shot at doing this, and we’re done, but I want the 8,000 delegates to have their voice heard.
Ambruster said he was elected by his Senate District with the explicit promise to do what he’s doing.
My people have sent me here to produce a simplified document.
The major debate comes down to this one point. What is a platform? Is a platform what it historically has always been, which is a statement of beliefs and principles which the members of an organization all agree on or, is it a laundry list of items which you want to see acted on.
I’ll be honest, I call our platform a Christmas tree. We built a Christmas tree and then every special interest group and every individual that has their pet project comes along and hangs it on there and, since 2006, our platform has done nothing but get larger.