Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Big Winner Last Night Was Battleground Texas

The only hot button social issue missing from last night's Texas Lt. Governor Republican primary debate was same sex marriage. Otherwise, the crazy train ride into far right Republican primary politics was complete. If nothing else, last night proved that limiting the number of Republican primary debates won't make a bit of difference as long as GOP policy stances remain unchanged. Whether the RNC allows one or 30 presidential primary debates in 2016, Republican candidates will face questions about abortion, immigration, creationism. All the issues that cause Republican nominees problems in the general election.

But I digress. Back to Texas.

Right off the bat, all four Republican candidates went on record opposing the court's decision ordering John Peter Smith Hospital to withdraw life support from Marlise Munoz . All four candidates (i.e. Jerry Patterson, Dan Patrick, Todd Staples and David Dewhurst) agreed that the statute needs to be modified to make it clear to the whole world that Texas is going to force women to carry on with their pregnancies even after they are legally dead. All in the name of "erring on the side of life" of course. Texas Republicans ALWAYS want to err on the side of innocent life unless it involves the death penalty when their attitude is more like let's hurry up to the death chamber before evidence surfaces that the person is innocent.

Next, the audience was treated to the latest round of "Which Republican Can Best Alienate Latino Voters".  In this area, Dan Patrick is clearly leading the pack. Last night, he upped the ante by suggesting that our freedom is threatened by undocumented workers. Thus, setting himself up for the next rhetorical step of comparing the issue of illegal immigration to slavery. Nowadays, it is customary for Republican politicians to compare anything they don't like to slavery. Or the Holocaust.

The rest of the pack was busy catching up with Mr Patrick. Todd Staples suggested that he was duped into supporting in-state tuition for undocumented students because he believed the federal government would secure the border. David Dewhurst described his efforts - as the incumbent Lt. Governor - to turn the Rio Grande into the Texas' version of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. He also upgraded his rhetoric from "securing the border" to "shutting down the border."

For years, Texas Republicans have run against 'turning Texas into California'. Last night, they added a new bogeyman to their bag of political tricks. "We're not going to go the way of Colorado"  said Dan Patrick referring to his opposition to legalizing marijuana. The remaining three candidates also oppose legalizing it. Only Patterson said he would consider legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. It seems there is a little Colorado in Jerry Patterson.

All four candidates made sure that everyone knows that Texas is a Christian state. If you happen to belong to another religion, well... too bad. Texas is a Christian state and not even God can change that. That is why they all support teaching creationism in public schools. Patterson suggested that creationism could be taught as part of a comparative religion class. But all four agreed that developing an educated workforce requires teaching children that the earth is 6,000 years old.

The last question was about term limits. Once again Patterson staked out a different position by saying he doesn't support them.  He went for the jugular, "California has term limits. How is that working?" Nevertheless, Patterson was the only candidate to make an attempt at sounding reasonable. Something that for sure will be held against him by Republican primary voters.

Last year, the Democrats announced their plans to turn Texas blue. Under the name of "Battleground Texas", they have launched programs to engage the rapidly growing Latino population and other constituencies that have traditionally stayed away from the polls. After last night debate, they may also want to reach out to Republicans who want to get off the crazy train of far right wing politics.