Tea Party Thought Leaders Lament Once-Promising Session

The 2014 election cycle was the most rousing success the conservative wing of the Republican party has ever had in Texas, and the 84th Legislature is that election’s child. How do the people who made that victory happen feel about their session?

They are not pleased:

As sine die approaches, we recall the hours spent knocking on doors and making calls for candidates who promised government reforms that would make Texas a national leader in limited government and a true champion of liberty.

We remember every single rhetorical flourish that promised Texas would have a secure border, restored Second Amendment Rights, a ban on sanctuary cities, lasting property tax relief, an end to the franchise tax, an end to tolling, protections for life and traditional Texas values, and educational freedom through school choice. It’s beginning to look as if some of those campaign promises are “all hat and no cattle.”

With the condition our country is in, we’re in no mood for any stalling, slow walking, or backtracking from Texas leaders. We need Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick to make good on their campaign promises.

That’s from a letter signed by some 28 members of state’s tea party cognoscenti, to the extent such a thing exists. Several of them serve on the lite guv’s Grassroots Advisory Board—those are the guys who called Abbott’s pre-K plan, now passed by both chambers, “godless” and “socialistic.”

They charge that Abbott, Patrick and Straus are on the cusp of “failure,” and the session has been a waste. These people have always loathed Straus, and Abbott was never really one of them, though some of the signers here have been slow to realize that. But it’s significant that Patrick is being charged with crimes against the revolution here too. After all, some of these people have been empanelled as his “advisors.”

Ok, so what would they like to happen? Keep in mind—there’s 10 days left in the session. Pretty much everything that’s not already on the path to final passage is doomed.

Greg Abbott
Gov. Greg Abbott

Secure the border […] End social service magnets (including in-state tuition breaks) for illegal aliens; ban sanctuary cities; mandate employment verification such as E-verify, and impose penalties for violators

Advance & protect the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death

Restore Second Amendment rights

Protect religious liberty – the right to resist violation of personal conscience

Protect religious freedom of clergy, pastors, and churches Protect Texas from a federal redefinition of marriage-HB 4105/SB 673

Prohibit the use of foreign laws, which do not guarantee our fundamental constitutional rights, from being used in Texas courts (ALAC)

Protect and harden the Texas electric grid—a life, security and economic issue

Provide educational freedom and choice for all parents and students

Advance fiscal responsibility through constitutional spending limits, budget transparency, debt and tax reform

Reform state transportation policy to end dependence on debt and tolling

Advance private property rights with eminent domain and annexation reforms

Sounds easy enough, right? Yes, some of the bills they single out literally cannot be passed, and some issues were effectively shut down months ago—the anti-LGBT House Bill 4105 is and has been dead. But now that the fire has been lit under them, Abbott, Patrick and Straus will get moving quickly to protect the electrical grid from electromagnetic pulse weapons, one presumes. This session has swung, with metronomic regularity, from quiet bleakness to high comedy. This is a fine entry in the latter category as the last days roll by.

It’s funny, but these aren’t just cranks. They have real influence in the Republican primary. When Capitol observers wondered about the feasibility of a Patrick primary challenge to Abbott in 2018, these are the people who were supposed to have been his footsoldiers—very good people to have in a fight. Maybe they still are. They’ll certainly take to Patrick more than the alternative.

But it’s a sign that he hasn’t done as good a job of managing expectations among his core supporters as he might have. It’s an interesting political problem: How do you satisfy a political base that literally cannot be satisfied?

Well, maybe they can: But it takes a special kind of leader. Recently, the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party delivered a flag signed by their members to an exceptional kind of guy who needs their support and prayers as he fights to pass the many bills he’s advanced on behalf of conservative values this session: Jonathan Stickland.

Christopher Hooks is a freelance journalist in Austin.

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Published at 12:43 pm CST
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