God is a Republican The Bible is American Any Questions? Editor’s Note: This story resulted from a stop-Reagan crossover vote cast by the writer in the May 3 Republican primary. While attending the precinct convention later that night, he was unwittingly elected a delegate to the 12th District Republican Convention in Fort Worth on May 10. What you are about to read is true. One name was changed to protect the reporter’s innocence. By Dick Collier Fort Worth It was a giant pep rally. Cheerleaders. Spirit buttons. Banners. It was a circus, too. Elephants. Clowns. It was the twilight zone of rationality. It was the 12th Republican District. Convention. Was I really a delegate? Did I really hear state Representative Clay Smothers of Dallas say we should “put those \(Irasend them home”? Did the auditorium really explode in frenzied laughter and applause at that remark? It’s in my notebook. Hit the rewind button! Yeah, he said it Sonys never lie. That morning Saturday, May 10, 1980, die-stamped into my mind patriotic music blared from the sound system at Fort Worth’s Paschal High school auditorium: “God Bless America” .. . “America” . . . “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. . . . The music was intended to inspire the day’s proceedings, and pretty much succeeded. By the time the convention opened, about 8 a.m., had you not reminded yourself you were in a suburban gym in the middle of North Central Texas you might have thought yourself at the very gates of the apocalypse: drums of war banging, bombs bursting in the air, rockets’ red glare and so on. Even by the dawn’s early light it was clear that to this GOP audience all day long the good guys and the bad guys would be clearly defined. In the white hats: conservative Republicans and God. 16 JUNE 6, 1980 In the black hats: liberals, a.k.a. socialists; Congressman Jim Wright, a.k.a. a socialist; and, lumped together, Jimmy Carter, Congress, the federal judiciary and the Bolshevik threat. As state Sen. Betty Andujar of Fort Worth would later proclaim, “Let us remember, friends, that the enemy is in the other party!” * * * The first speaker at what would become a grueling day long politathon for the 1,200 gathered delegates was Smothers, who used to be an ordinary Democrat but now he says he’s a “born-again Democrat,” which in local jargon means he’s a Republican. Or something. Anyway, he’s running as a Republican against Democratic Congressman Martin Frost of Dallas in November. At the gates of the apocalypse… A GOP precinct convention “White liberals will not continue to dangle goodies before the eyes of my people,” declared Smothers, a black and a former supporter of George Wallace for president. “I’m excited by the possibility of a Negro conservative being elected to Congress!” The convention was excited, too. Applause was vibrant. “I want to be elected so baad! . . . I want to be elected so bad. I refuse to tell a lie. I wanted to be elected so bad.” How bad? Well, for example: “I’ll tell you what, before I support homosexuality \(not that anyone had brought the homosexuality!” Excitement turned to frenzy. The GOPers were lathering and applauding and in general not acting like Republicans at all. “We can win this battle going away,” Smothers then predicted. “There will be some upsets unbelievable! “I think,” Smothers added, “I’m probably the first man that told Eddie Chiles that I’m madder than he is. “God bless you!” Smothers said, leaving the stage. “I’m gonna win!” Negro? I thought. I reached into my jacket to touch my John Anderson button for reassurance. Somebody’s madder than Eddie Chiles? My attention was drawn back to the dais. The chairman had just said something about somebody else being mad today. Perhaps he meant angry. Anyway, an heroic looking, crisply dressed fellow entered stage right. He paraded to the podium like a Roman general passing beneath a triumphal arch. “Of course, all of you know that I’m mad,” the Roman general began. I bit my tongue. A smart-aleck retort here could mean summary execution. “But I’d like to find out about you. All of you who love America, but are mad at your Congress, hold up your hands.” Appendages shot into the air. Eddie Chiles, the mad man, the general, looked serious. He loves America. He should. It’s made him a very wealthy chief executive officer of an oil company. He also loves the Bible. Especially the “American” parts of the Bible. American parts? Sure, according to Mad Eddie. There’s Exodus 20:1-6, which is about honoring God and setting up no other false images of worship; and there’s Mark 3:23-27, which is a warning about a kingdom being unable to stand divided against itself. Chiles proceeded to explain how the passages had particular meaning for America. “We must learn a lesson from faith,” Chiles said, referring to the Exodus passage. “Your federal government is Dick Collier is a freelance writer living in Arlington.
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