Yesterday I attended my Republican Senate District 16 convention.
As usual, it was mostly pep rally and preaching to the choir.
I spent a few hours in the nominations committee room because of an error on my precinct convention’s forms. It turns out that the senate district nominating committee caught the error and was already going to bump me to a senate district nominee to the state convention (instead of a precinct nominee).
The fun stuff started when the resolutions committee brought its recommendations for changes to the Texas Republican Party Platform for floor votes. (These are generally an amalgam of resolutions emanating from precinct conventions.)
I couldn’t believe how boneheaded these resolutions were. Many were profoundly nuts or useless. Examples:
- Resolution stating that the U.S. Constitution’s Taxing and Spending Clause doesn’t authorize creation of “Federal (sic) bureaucracies, agencies and regulations” and calling for abolishment of 5 named federal agencies and “all other agencies not expressly authorized … by the Constitution…” Huh? Talk about misinterpretation! This clause’s controversy is not of the creation of federal bureaucracies but of the power of the purse, where the federal government withholds funds unless states do something, such as impose that stupid 55 mph speed limit or drinking age restrictions. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch this flaw during the discussion, so I couldn’t speak against it. Amazingly, this passed by a floor vote. A guy actually stood up and said that he thinks this will help reduce Congressional delegations of power to the Executive Branch. Um, hello, Congress doesn’t run bureaucracies! That’s the purpose of the Executive Branch!
- A floor motion to have roll call votes to allow proxy votes. The motion’s intent was to allow remaining delegates of precincts to cast proxy votes representing members of their precinct who had already left. Had they allowed floor debate on this motion, I would have reminded how one of the planks of the 1994 Contract With America was to ban proxy votes!
- “We desire harsh penalties … for those who publicly display or promote pornography…” I’m fine with penalties against public display of porn. No question it’s inappropriate. But question against promotion of pornography?Promotion is speech! Cracking down on unpopular speech is for Iran, China, and North Korea. Why do some want the Republican Party to mimic these despotic regimes? I spoke against the “promotion” part, but the resolution passed anyway.
- A resolution requiring parents written permission before Planned Parenthood materials could be passed out to students. I think Planned Parenthood is a radical organization that does more harm than good. I was fine with this plank. But some kooks thought this reduced rights because it required parents to do something. Never mind that the wording clearly gave parents more control over receipt of objectionable content.
- A resolution supporting the Social Security Fairness Act. This act would repeal provisions that reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits for wealthy people. I spoke against this resolution. Social Security is not an “investment.” The concept of the Social Security Trust Fund is a hoax. Social Security is a wealth transfer program entirely funded with current tax dollars. Anything that increases Social Security spending will increase debt or taxes. Unfortunately, this resolution prevailed because some got up and mischaracterized Social Security as an investment. As long as we propagate old lies about Social Security, meaningful reform will not happen.
- A resolution on bilingual education. I didn’t object per se, except for some silly grammatical and punctuation errors, until a supporter pointed out that the resolution really does nothing. At that point I stood up and opposed the resolution, saying if it does nothing, it’s not worth passing. I got a small ovation and laughs, and the resolution failed.
- A resolution restricting the right of private property owners to regulate concealed, permitted gun possession on their premises. This resolution had two parts.Currently, private property owners appear to have the right to prohibit gun owners from leaving guns in their locked cars that are in a parking lot. I agree with the first part of the resolution, which said that property owners should not have this right. I strongly disagreed with the second provision, which said that private property owners should be liable for any harm coming from a gun owner not being able to carry his gun in the premises in an otherwise law abiding manner. Even though I am fine with concealed weapons, I strongly support the right of property owners to set their own standards for their premises (with the one exception provided above). I and some others spoke to this effect, and I proposed modifying the resolution to eliminate this second part. Unfortunately, my motion to amend failed and the original resolution passed.
By this time, it was 3:30 PM. I hadn’t had any lunch and was getting tired of the legalism, so I left. Other noteworthy ridiculous resolutions included:
- A resolution adding the words “direct or indirect” to a plank about hiring lobbyists. Huh? How does stating all possible forms of an action add meaning to a statement of principles?
- A resolution calling for the end of all earmarks. Totally nutty. The problem is the abuse of earmarks, not earmarks themselves. Without earmarks, Congress would fully delegate allocation of government resources to unaccountable bureaucracies. The problem are pork earmarks that force pointless or wasteful spending (e.g., bridge to nowhere).
- Various resolutions calling for drastic changes to our monetary system, abolishment of the Federal Reserve System, or enactment of a commodity-based currency. Sheer whack job nuttiness. I hope these failed.
- Immediate Iraq and Afghanistan withdrawal. Some Republicans want us to surrender to Iraqi and Afghan terrorists. I noticed a lot of Ron Paul supporters at the nominations committee meeting. I figure they were behind this.
The resolutions that passed merely trickle up to the state convention, and it is that convention that puts together the final document. The state Republican platform is already nutty enough, so I hope these resolutions get rejected.
I am proud that I helped get two planks inserted into the 2002 Texas platform concerning speed limits. Unfortunately, none of my 2008 precinct resolutions made it past the senate district resolutions committee, so I will have little impact on the Texas Republican platform this year.
The poor quality of the senate district 16 resolutions committee’s work amazed me. Far too many of its resolutions were ignorant, pointless, or rife with grammatical or punctuation errors.
We’re Republicans. Certainly we can do better?