The Republican primary of 2018 was one of the ugliest and hardest fought campaign cycles in the 20 years of my involvement in politics. I recently shared with my friend Candice how weary I had become with politics. After recounting some of the “dramas within the dramas” of the last election, she asked me an interesting question: “When did it become acceptable to tell everyone who we’re voting for?” I’ve been trying to answer that question in my mind ever since. When I was a kid, I remember going to the local school or public library with my mom to cast her vote in every election. What I don’t remember, are my parents talking about their votes. Why? Because it used to be considered impolite to ask or even discuss for whom you voted. Your vote was your vote and it was customary to keep it private.
This type of nostalgia is at the very heart and inspiration for this blog. What happened to the good ole days of decorum and respect for one another? I get the frustration in the last decade. Afterall, I was part of the early days of the tea party movement. Common sense Republicans were tired of our conservative ideas, policies, and principles being drug through the mud. We were sick of being misrepresented in the media and among liberal friends as uncaring and selfish. A coworker once told me he was surprised I was a Republican because I care so much about other people! Seriously??? So, we gathered, rallied, and gave one another the courage to stand up to the left’s propaganda. We yearned for a nostalgic time in history when Republicans and Democrats were after the same thing; a strong and prosperous America. Once upon a time we may have different ways of achieving it, but still very much wanted to work together in a united effort on the world stage. We were longing to rekindle that spirit of unity and trust.
Grassroots conservatives identified some fundamental problems within our political system. Big money from PACs and lobbyists had taken over American politics and they wanted to support candidates who weren’t seeking a career, but rather to just do the right thing. Regular folk who had never been involved in politics before began educating themselves on who their elected officials were and how they could influence them. Most of the grassroots activists were Republicans looking for the conservative voice to be heard, respected, and taken seriously. Comparatively, there were moderate Democrats who felt the far-left progressives had overpowered and taken over their party. So, they too felt left out and some even crossed over to vote Red.
Thanks to President Trump, the GOP has an even louder voice and is giving conservatives even greater opportunities on the national and world stage. Unfortunately, it is uglier and nastier than ever before. The evening news feels more like “American Fight Night: Liberals vs. Conservatives”. But what I find more distressing is the Republican-on-Republican hate and demonization happening right here in Texas politics. The name calling and character assassination within our own party has become the way to win a primary election.
It began after the tea party movement, but only in subtle ways. Some who jumped on the bandwagon saw an opening, a chance to get elected to something, anything! It was an opportunity to become a rising star, Phrases like, “career politicians”, “RINOs”, and “term limits” became popular mantras. Self-appointed “leaders” deemed formerly respected elected representatives as evil and had to go! The mob had been gathered and primed for stirring. Grassroot candidates came out of the woodwork to run against once trusted and proven elected conservative representatives. Representatives who had been serving our communities and GOP long before being elected to office. Many of the Tea Party candidates had not even lived in Texas, much less served our communities prior to attending a rally or two. They hadn’t helped elect one single candidate, much less volunteer at the polls. And yet, they said the right things, “Come and Take It”, “We the People”, and “Constitutional Conservative”. I wondered if they had even read the Constitution! They also wore the right attire like the Texas flag shirt, Come and Take It t-shirt, cowboy hats and boots. The mob was fired up.
We lost a lot of good men and women in the Texas House and Senate between 2010 and 2018. But what have we really accomplished? Did we create a more educated electorate, or did we just create a mob mentality? Since when did compromise, decorum, and finding common ground become a bad thing?
Just before the 2018 primary, my husband and I visited the Republic of Ireland. Rich in political history undergirded by the struggle for freedom from one oppressor after the other. Our tour guide said something that resonated in me my own political experience, “History is written by victors and liberators. Yet often, liberators become the next oppressors.” Struggle is what I believe will strengthen the Irish culture, people, and their country; but only if they find common ground and allow each other to be Irish while celebrating their differences.
My goal for this blog project is to tap into Texas Republicans’ strengths and common ground in order to unite our party and discard the divisive. I’d like you to join me on this journey to see if we can rekindle the nostalgia we long for from the 50’s and 60’s while rejecting the “winner takes all” style of governing within our own party. I hope you will log in with me as we explore ways conservatives repeat political mistakes, how to correct them, and attempt to heal our fractured Republic.