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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE Words Not to Live By Illustration by Mike Krone MThe platform of the Texas Republican Party is a nonbinding document that few read. Most Republican elected officials pretend it doesn’t exist. It demands abolition of the Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service, deportation of all undocumented immigrants, and denial of emergency room care while they’re still here. It is a utopian work that urges American withdrawal from the United Nations. To the party faithful, the 7,000-word revelation of shared principle has become an almost sacred text. Every two years, at the Republican state convention, party loyalists spend three days composing the platform with the care usually reserved for international treaties \(of which they are, of course, suspiSo on June 12, the first official night of the 2008 convention in Houston, the 32-member platform committee crowded into a small, gray-carpeted side room at the George R. Brown Convention Center to finalize the platform. They heard testimony from a parade of delegates seeking changes in the platform. Some wanted to soften the document’s stance on the war in Iraq \(“There should be no timetable for pulling out of wondered how enthusiastically the document should endorse the government of Taiwan. Delegate Brittany Paxman, an undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin, begged the committee to tone down the harsh language on social issues. “When we legislate issues like school prayer and gay marriage, we end up excluding people who would otherwise be Republicans:’ she told the committee. “I think we should apply that small government philosophy to social issues:’ Next! Since 2004, the party platform has called for repeal of Gov. Rick Perry’s toll road plan known as the Trans-Texas Corridor. This year, the committee went even further, calling for investigation of elected officials who support the corridor. One delegate told the committee it should terminate the root cause of the Trans-Texas Corridor and repeal NAFTA. A hirsute delegate wearing a Ron Paul shirt, who identified himself as Duane Jones, told the committee that the platform should endorse legalization of marijuana, but only for medical purposes. Really. “You can give me a hair test right now, because I don’t use that stuff anymore,” he told the committee. Then he added that hemp is also an excellent energy sourcebetter than ethanol, “Let me get this straight,” asked one committee member with a bemused look. “Are you saying we should use marijuana instead of gasoline?” Yup. As the 11 p.m. printing deadline neared, committee Chair Kirk Overbey ended debate by trying to soothe the delegates whose proposals foundered. After all, he said, “We’re going to approve a piece of paper that no one’s going to read for two years:’ The Dems’ Big Tent GUN OWNERS, HOME-SCHOOLERS eh , PRO-LIFERS Texas Democrats devote a lot of time at their state conventions to seminars and interest-group caucuses. You can tell a group’s popularity, at least in the opinion of organizers, by the size of the room assigned to it and which big-name candidates visit. The caucuses for supporters of home schools, guns, and abortion opposition met in the Austin Convention Center’s most cramped rooms during the state convention on June 6. Even the most ardent followers of Texas politics probably had never heard of the candidates who stopped by. The Democratic home-schoolers used most of their hourlong seminar for myth-busting. “At one point in my life, I thought home-schoolers all wore prairie dresses,” said Theresa 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 27, 2008