Platform Sampler Even before she made her “some people think the Republican Party is a church,” speech before the first general session of the convention, McKenna was well known among Christian right delegates. In 1992, she ran against Houston Democratic Congressman Mike Andrews and won 46 percent of the voteagainst a popular incumbent then in his fifth term. When Andrews announced he would not stand for reelec. tion, but would run for the Senate seat vacated by Lloyd Bentsen, McKenna assumed she was her party’s apparent heir apparent. She was swept away in the Republican primary by fundamental Christian candidate Gene Fontenot and the $800,000 he spent to defeat her. McKenna began her long-shot campaign for the party chair in a letter to supporters, in which she quoted former Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine. “The Republican party,” McKenna wrote, “has been taken over by the ‘Four Horsemen of Calumny: fear, ignorance, bigotry and smear.”‘ Then, quoting no one, McKenna went after the Christian right: “There is a broad b ased social agenda intended to replace our constitutional democracy with a fundamentalist theocracy and eliminate public education, the Federal Reserve and the IRS by the year 2000. It is a hate-filled agenda of gay-bashing and intolerance that is much like the fundamentalism that has recently swept the Middle East, the neo-Nazis in Germany, and now, the neo-Fascists in Italy. They [the Christian right] have been successful in hiding their real agenda and manipulating sincerely devout people to support them on issues such as abortion.” So it was no surprise that by the time McKenna stood up and told assembled delegates that the party was not a church, but that they were welcome in the party, she was answered with a chorus of boos and shouts of “We are the party!” In a hospitality suite much smaller than Barton’s, I asked McKenna if she was running for party chair in 1996, assuming the fundamentalist Christians, after two years of intra-party fighting, would fade and she would be positioned to lead the Mosbacher moderates. “I’m running for the chair this year,” McKenna said. “I’m convinced that this party needs to be opened up to be made more diverse.” But when I mentioned the crowd’s reaction to her speech earlier that afternoon, McKenna seemed to falter. It was not an easy speech to deliver, she said, but it was what the convention had to hear. “I believe in the big tent.” she said. Later in the evening she would hold up a small, tattered paper parasol that came out of a drink glass and say: “This is the big tent. It’s had a hard time here today.” The big tent metaphor originated with Lee Atwater, the late Republican Party strategist who worked to bringing fundamental Christians into the partyas voters. In Texas, it had more currency at the 1990 convention, also held in Fort Worth at about the time the Christian right was closing in on the platform committee. The argument then, advanced by moderate Republican delegates like Maurice Angly of Travis County, was that the party had to be big enough to include moderates as well as ultraconservatives. Then Clayton Williams and a conservative platform alienated moderate Republican women, who helped elect Ann Richards. By 1992, fundamental Christians dominated the Republican platform .committee. The resounding defeat of McKennawho was courted by Barton on Saturday morning, until he realized that 36 percent plus 10.8 percent does not equal 50 percentat this convention seems to have relegated the big tent to a historical footnote. The two-woman race for the party vice chair, in which Susan Weddington, an antiabortion-rights activist from San Antonio challenged incumbent Vice Chair Gayle West, was more clearly a test of Christian Four days after the state convention, George W. Bush tried to put some distance between himself and his party’s platform. “The convention was a two-day event that came and went,” Bush told the Fort Worth Star-Tekgratrt. “It won’t have any lasting effect on the campaign. People don’t focus on the platform.” Nonetheless, ccording to the 1994 Republican Party platform: Citizens have a constitutional right to bear arms; “people, not guns, commit crime.” Prisons should be reformed, including a redefinition by the Legislature that the goals of the prison system should be the “protection of society first, punishment of offenders second, and lastly, rehabilitation. No prisoner convicted of a violent crime should ever be released early.” Capital punishment should be swift and unencumbered. Sodomy should not be decriminalized. No state income tax should be enacted. The tort system should be reformed, “including caps on noneconomic damages.” Terms for all elected state officials should be limited. Groundwater is an “absolute ownership” right of a landowner. The state should not have the power to compel children to attend public school and parents or guardians should be allowed to educate their children in private schools or at home. “The question of the universe and life origins should not be constrained to one opinion. We, therefore, support the teaching of creation science in Texas public schools.” credentials. In her speech to the plenary session, West, backed by her family, had as much to say about faith and church attendance as she said about policy. “I boldly stand before you with my family standing behind me to say I’ve always stood for the strong pro-life platform of the Republican Party of Texas,” West said. “Most of all, I believe in the Heavenly Father. I am a Texas, God-fearing lady.” She stated that she and her husband, District Judge David West, attend a Pasadena Baptist church, and she apologized for the absence of her 13-yearold, who was attending Bible classes. But Susan Weddington prevailed in the credentials test, in part because her candidacy was linked to Pauken’s. Weddington was supported by anti-abortion lobbyist Bill Price of Dallas and the more radical Rex Moses of Corpus Christi. Moses is former state director of Operation Rescue, the organization that regularly pickets and blocks entrances to clinics were abortions are performed. A critical endorsement, however, was that of the Christian Coalition’s Dick Weinhold. In an acceptance speech, Weddington thanked the delegates for their support and assured them that she “is not related to Sarah Weddington,” the Congress [should] enact a school prayer amendment, to permit prayer in public schools. “The family is a God-ordained institution, and should be defined as those persons related by blood, heterosexual marriage, or adoption.” “No homosexual nor any individual convicted of child abuse or molestation should have the right to custody or adoption of a minor child….Homosexuality should not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle in our public schools.” “The Party believes that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which can not be infringed upon except when the mother’s life is in danger.” “We oppose governmental interference in early childhood development which is rightly the province of parents or guardians and the private sector. “The Party encourages the U.S. Congress to repeal provisions of the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and any similar laws or regulations made without scientific basis and which do not balance the environmental needs of society with economic opportunity and freedom. We specifically oppose the banning of conditioning equipment.” “The party believes the minimum wage law should be repealed in order to expand employment opportunities.” “The Party believes that the United States monetary system should be returned to the gold standard.” L.D. 4 JULY 1, 1994
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