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The Texas Republican Party Platform: A Biennial Exercise in Extremism

Writing the Texas Republican Party platform has essentially been a biennial exercise in extremism since religious-right activists took control of the party machinery in the mid-1990s. This story was no different in writing the 2012 state GOP platform. The new party platform would turn back the clock on protections for religious freedom as well as public education, women's health, civil rights, environmental protections and open, sensible government. (Click here for our full analysis of the 2012 Texas GOP platform.)

The attacks on religious liberty are among the most alarming parts of the 2012 platform. Republicans throughout the platform insist that government and public schools promote "Judeo-Christian" values despite constitutional prohibitions against government promotion of religion. One platform plank even dismisses one of the most important protections for religious freedom: "We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state." (P-14)

Texas Republicans also used their platform to reinforce attacks on public education. Even though state lawmakers slashed billions of dollars from funding for public schools last year, the party platform demands even more cuts: "(W)e support reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education institutions." (P-17)

Moreover, the platform supports teaching creationist arguments about so-called "weaknesses" of evolution in science classrooms. And it opposes "any sex education other than abstinence until marriage" (P-17) even though Texas has one of the highest teen birthrates in the nation.

Texas Republicans also doubled down on the religious right's war on women's health and birth control. The platform doesn't just call for a constitutional amendment banning a woman's right to choose an abortion. It also supports legislation declaring that a person's life begins at conception, a measure so radical that Mississippi voters strongly rejected it in 2011. Such legislation would effectively bar all abortions, including for reasons of rape or incest, complicate medical treatment for women with problem pregnancies, deter in vitro fertilization and ban embryonic stem cell research. The state GOP platform also supports draconian budget cuts for women's health care providers like Planned Parenthood and seeks to ban "morning after" pills like Plan B and Ella for contraception as well as RU486.

The party would also roll back important protections for civil and voting rights. In fact, the platform expressly calls for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as well as of "motor voter" laws and the Help America Vote Act, which are designed to make it easier for citizens to register to vote and help ensure that their ballots are counted accurately. The party also demands that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution be "clarified" so that it reverses the long-established constitutional principle that a person has the right to U.S. citizenship if born in the United States.

Some of the most divisive language in the platform is reserved, not surprisingly, for attacking civil and equal rights for LGBT Americans: "We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country's founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable 'alternative' lifestyle, in public policy, nor should 'family' be redefined to include homosexual 'couples.'" (P-7 and 8) The platform calls for a federal constitutional amendment that would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages or even civil unions and domestic partnerships. It calls for repealing this state's hate crimes law or at least revising it to exclude protections for gay and lesbian crime victims. And it opposes legislation that would protect LGBT people from job discrimination.

Some of the most bizarre planks in the party platform defy neat categorizing. Many represent right-wing paranoia promoted by "tea party" activists. These include:

  • U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank
  • The abolishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the repeal of the Endangered Species Act, the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and minimum wage laws
  • The creation of a so-called "Constitutional State Militia" for Texas
  • Allowing college students to carry firearms on campus
  • Replacing income and capital gains taxes with a regressive national sales tax
  • Privatizing Social Security and phasing out the Social Security tax (thus effectively ending the program)
  • Bowing to "birthers" who claim President Obama is ineligible to serve in the White House by requiring presidential candidates to present an original or certified birth certificate to the Texas Secretary of State

And during the most serious economic downturn since the Great Depression, the Texas GOP republishes the 1932 national Republican Party platform's prescription for economic health, including draconian budget cuts and an insistence on linking the dollar to the gold standard.

The party platform, in short, is a call to turn back the clock in America.

Full TFN Analysis of the 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform

Full 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform (pdf format)

TFN Analysis of the 2010 Texas Republican Party Platform

Full 2010 Texas Republican Party Platform (pdf format)

Analysis of the Texas GOP's 2008 platform here.