Texas, the Republican Party, & the World

BIG title, isn’t it? We’re going to work up to it by discussing a couple of rinky-dink school board elections. To understand why these apparently inconsequential contests are literally of global importance, we’ll start with an excellent column in the San Antonio Express-News. It’s titled Social issues drive education race. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Ken Mercer and Tim Tuggey have a lot in common. Mercer, the incumbent District 5 State Board of Education representative, and Tuggey, the attorney-lobbyist trying to take his seat, both consider themselves conservatives.

We recently wrote about this election contest. See Texas SBOE: Tim Tuggey vs. Ken Mercer. Mercer is a raging, flaming, full-blown creationist. See: Meet Ken Mercer.

Enough background. Let’s read more from the San Antonio Express-News:

They’re both 54, each with more than 20 years of business experience in the San Antonio area. They’re both products of the military, with Mercer the son of an Army Air Corps veteran and Tuggey a former Army captain. They even agree about the meaning of their primary campaign, that it’s a battle to define the modern Texas Republican Party. That’s where the arguments begin.

That’s exactly what this election is all about. We continue:

Tuggey, a former chairman of VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority, wears suits and ties, and is crisp and careful with his words. He fits the profile of what party populists derisively call a “country-club Republican,” someone who believes in free markets but has little patience for moral crusades.

And that is important because:

In the wake of President Barack Obama’s 2008 election, Republicans have debated whether the party needs to move to the political center or stand more emphatically as a party of social conservatism.

The Mercer-Tuggey race, along with a similar Board of Education primary battle between incumbent Don McLeroy, R-College Station, and his challenger, Thomas Ratcliff, will put that internal debate to the test.

Right again! Our last post about the McLeroy election is here: Editorial on McLeroy v. Ratliff. We think McLeroy is as batty as the Time Cube guy. Moving along with the San Antonio Express-News:

Mercer and McLeroy have been strong allies since Mercer won election to the board in 2006. … His [Mercer’s] election that year gave social conservatives seven of the board’s 15 seats, and they’ve used their power to fight what Mercer calls the “education political lobby.” Along the way, he’s pushed for creationist theory in science textbooks, supported the concept of a Bible studies elective course in high school … . In a 2008 piece for the conservative Web site Texas Insider, Mercer compared the teaching of evolution as fact with Nazi Germany’s adherence to a master-race theory.

And McLeroy is even worse. Click over to the San Antonio Express-News and read the whole column.

But why is your Curmudgeon paying so much attention to these Texas school board elections? At the risk of wildly over-stating our case, we think these contests can determine the fate of the world.

What? Yes, you read that correctly. Whether America continues its slide into the sewer of socialism depends not so much on the success of the left — which never succeeds in economics — as it does on the attractiveness of the political opposition.

If the Republican party presents a repulsive program of government, it cannot succeed at the national level. That leaves the nation, and ultimately the world, with no alternative but to sink further into the pit of socialism, where free enterprise is effectively outlawed, and we are ruled by parasites, power freaks, and economic idiots.

Despite his skills in the process of getting elected, Obama is turning out to be a dangerously incompetent fool. Yes, he’s intelligent, but so are thousands of left-wing academicians trained in topics like sociology and political “science.” Such people can skillfully juggle concepts the way a circus performer juggles beanbags, but they don’t have the brains to run a Burger King franchise — yet they think they can run the world.

Despite their incompetence, leftists continue to win elections. Why? It’s because, despite their unbroken history of causing economic disasters all over the globe for most of the last century, their opponents are usually perceived as being even worse. Not worse at economics, but at everything else. Ironically, elections are decided by the “undecided” voters in the middle, and such people never choose what they perceive as fanaticism.

Therefore, the message of the Republican party is the single most important issue in the political future of the nation. Texas — as the second-most populous state after California — is a vitally important battleground where the party’s future, the future of America — and yes, of the world — is being determined.

At the moment, despite the fiasco of Obama, the GOP is not an attractive alternative. Theocratic creationist fanatics run the Texas GOP machinery. See: The Theocratic Texas Republican Party Platform. You can’t expect to defeat Al Capone by offering Count Dracula as his replacement.

Despite a rational core of economic and geopolitical common sense, if the GOP continues to be dominated by the lingering remnant of the ignorant, racist, creationist mobs who idolized William Jennings Bryan, they’ll never attract enough votes to prevail in national elections. No one wants to swap a bunch of incompetents for a pack of even more dangerous lunatics.

And so, dear reader, the battle for the soul of the GOP is playing out in a few rinky-dink Texas school board elections. We’re not saying that if the theocrats win these contests the nation is doomed; but it would certainly give us encouragement to see reason prevail.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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26 responses to “Texas, the Republican Party, & the World

  1. comradebillyboy

    While I agree that Obama is an incompetent leader, the economic prowess of the last three Republican administrations is nothing to brag about. Really, the Bush policy of lowering taxes, starting wars and running up the deficit, with the total support of the congressional Republicans (and many of the Democrats as well), cannot be laid at the feet of liberals and is a problem that is unlikely to be resolved either party. It is difficult for me to be optimistic about the nations political future since BOTH parties are irrational and irresponsible.

  2. comradebillyboy says:

    While I agree that Obama is an incompetent leader, the economic prowess of the last three Republican administrations is nothing to brag about.

    Yes, but in the immortal words of Henny Youngman: “Compared to what?”

  3. Curdge, I have to admit that I do have a problem with you catagorizing the current administration as leftist. In what way. Public option on health care? Gone for “compromise” with people who won’t vote for it anyway. Or maybe his financial advisers, one of whom called liberals “retards” and had to apologize… to Sarah Palin. Sorry, you keep complaining about creeping socialism but the policies that keep coming out are either centricism or right leaning with a pretty dress-up and lefties like myself are always confused as to who you are actually fighting. It continues to be a duel between the right and the ultra-right.

  4. Another take is that the “Tea Party Movement” eats at the base of the Republican Party, thus weakening it. The candidates left in the party are too spineless to repudiate the crazies, and from what I can read, they don’t offer anything positive.

    The craziest of the crazy have wandered away from the Republicans, in order join the likes of Tom Tancredo and Sarah Palin in their recent orgy of delusion and hate.

    Where’s Barry Goldwater when you need him?

    *Sigh*

  5. Albanaeon says: “It continues to be a duel between the right and the ultra-right.”

    Maybe I’m lost in my own 18th Century fantasy world, but I don’t think free enterprise is “right wing.” It’s just, well, it’s economic freedom. It’s freedom in the same sense as academic freedom. If freedom is characterized as “right wing,” then what does that say about the left?

  6. waldteufel says:

    Another take is that the “Tea Party Movement” eats at the base of the Republican Party, thus weakening it.

    Only if it takes votes away by going the third-party route. Otherwise, they’re just stirring things up. Little harm in that.

  7. Sorry, but your point is a bit off, I think. What’s the point of being able to create any business you want when you can easily be run into the ground by a giant corporation? What freedom do you have when you are tied to a job by its health care because leaving would mean you’d lose coverage at a new place? Heck, what freedom do you have when medical bills can force you into bankruptcy even when you have health insurance? The point of a lot of leftism is to try and prevent the powerful or random from ruining lives or preventing freedoms, so that is the freedom we tend to advocate. Now let’s really not debate this. I doubt either would convince the other of even our basic points, and we’ve got a common enemy anyway. Theocrats don’t want any real freedoms and we can both agree on that.

  8. Albanaeon, I could really dig into your points. I’m much better at that stuff than I am at shredding creationism. But although it’s tempting, it’s way off topic, so I’d rather just leave it alone. You’re right, we agree on opposing theocracy.

  9. Thanks, Curdge.

  10. I’d just like to note that a major problem with Republicans in recent times is the failure to promote the kind of economic freedom you advocate. For example, Congress and Bush passed subsidies for oil producers, ethanol, and a massive subsidy bill for drug makers (prescription drug benefit). All of these interfere with free market function and aimed to benefit some of the party’s key supporters.
    I think you are too upbeat about the Tuggey wing of the party. They are more reasonable, but I think there are very few true conservatives left in politics who intend to shrink gov’t and allow free markets to work.
    Doesn’t leave much to choose from, even in the unlikely event that the “country club” Republicans prevail!

  11. Newcomer says: “think you are too upbeat about the Tuggey wing of the party.”

    Probably, but it keeps me from getting depressed. Anyway, a defeat of Mercer and McLeroy would be something to cheer about.

  12. Probably, but it keeps me from getting depressed. Anyway, a defeat of Mercer and McLeroy would be something to cheer about.

    On that we very much agree!

  13. On the Left, there is only one “ist” or “ism” and the first part of the word is Marx. All others are obfuscations. So The entire Democratic Leadership in Washing is Marxist, and President Obama is as strict as any of them.

    Unfortunately, the Right is bereft of Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal (in the classic sense of the word) leaders – those who respect individual liberty and the spirit of the constitution.

    Well, maybe the best the country can hope for is eternal gridlock.

    Perhaps Curmy is right and the Republicans can start building a more centrist party by starting with the likes of the Texas SBOE. That takes a long time and parties don’t seem to like to look further out than the next election.

    PAH – I feel pessimistic about the future of our Republic. I hope I am wrong.

  14. The Gadfly says: “I feel pessimistic about the future of our Republic.”

    You’re on the way to being a curmudgeonly gadfly.

  15. Gabriel Hanna

    I’m not sure the relevant distinction is left / right, so much as people who want to boss you for your own good, and people who don’t.

    Social conservatives want to boss you, everyone knows that. But the Left wants to boss you too. They don’t care who or what you sleep with, but they want to tell what to eat and how to spend your money.

    Whatever you want to say about social conservatives, they rarely say that the problem with America is that America is too stupid to listen to them.

    One of the reasons I can’t get as worked up as SC is by the conservative Republicans is that a moral scold does me the courtesy of treating me as an adult, capable of deciding right or wrong. A leftist scold treats me as a child who can’t possibly know what’s actually best for me. My relatives who are Democrats have often said to me, that they can’t understand why a smart person would vote Republican. I’m the only one in the family with a doctorate, yet I apparently am too stupid to know who to vote for. It’s like they can’t process it.

  16. Gabriel Hanna says:

    Social conservatives want to boss you, everyone knows that. But the Left wants to boss you too. They don’t care who or what you sleep with, but they want to tell what to eat and how to spend your money.

    Yeah, that’s the usual Libertarian analysis of the situation, and they don’t want to boss you in either area. I once thought they had potential, but it seemed to me that they got flaky on national defense issues.

    It’s always amusing when someone tells me I don’t know enough to vote intelligently. My only response is to smile and change the subject.

  17. Gabriel Hanna notes

    I’m not sure the relevant distinction is left / right, so much as people who want to boss you for your own good, and people who don’t.

    Whole-hearted agreement from me on this basic point; I have found it decreasingly meaningful to characterise political positions as ‘left v. right’ even within a state’s internal political posturing (the ‘left/right’ dichotomy was never really meaningful in international relations, but that’s a different topic).

    I have always held, with Thomas Paine, that that government governs best which governs least, a sentiment with which the right traditionally is in full accord. But in practise, I have too often found that many advocates of “Less Government” really mean, ‘Less interference in my affairs, but more in yours’: that is certainly the position of the American religious right, and the reason why Palin’s pronouncements make me very deeply suspicious.

    The principle of “less government” needs to be backed up (and can be) with a specific platform to explain how such is implemented and maintained. Otherwise, as a simple slogan, “less government” is a meaningless or even dangerous slogan. Even Marx blathered about “the withering of the state” and claimed that his la-la-Utopian Communism was ‘stateless.’ And we know how that worked out…

  18. The Gadfly notes

    On the Left, there is only one “ist” or “ism” and the first part of the word is Marx. All others are obfuscations. So The entire Democratic Leadership in Washing[ton] is Marxist, and President Obama is as strict as any of them.

    Respectfully disagree, though with much sympathy to your basic sentiment here, mostly because your characterisation here seems to me not to advance a useful analysis nor further formulation of an appropriate response.

    Example: is it meaningful to describe the PRC today as ‘Marxist’ in the same degree as it was during the reign of Mao and the Cultural Revolution? Or might it not be more accurate to indicate it remains despicably totalitarian, and that ideology (of whatever flavour) is simply a tool used by totalitarian states?

    It is arguable (and has often been so argued) that Western European Socialism has many roots predating Marx; it is a commonplace, for example, that the UK Labour Party owes more to Methodism than to Marx.

    Just to be clear: the last thing I’d wish to do is defend any flavour of socialism; my point is that that characterise all such flavours as ‘marxist’ does not advance the argument with them, IMHO

  19. Elections are more about instincts than isms.

    The main objective of elected politicians everywhere seems to be to balance the image projected to the electorate with the need to entrench the institutional status quo. So regardless of their procalimed isms, they all seek to expand central authority while window-dressing it in crowd-pleasing language like ‘security from terrorism’ or ‘fairness for the disadvantaged’.

    It’s like any institution – it finds ways to consolidate and expand its power. It has as little to do with Marx as it has with Madison.

    That said, I’ll be voting in the next election, and the one after that. Call it the triumph of hope over expectation.

  20. From the article: “Republicans have debated whether the party needs to move to the political center or stand more emphatically as a party of social conservatism.”

    There’s a third choice. If only we can get that misleading one-dimensional “left-right” model out of our heads. Google “self-gov.org” for a better, if still imperfect two-dimensional model. While the site admits a libertarian bias, the model accommodates all positions. If anything, it’s the pro-science Republicans who want to move further to the right, not the center. Whereas social “conservatives” (aka “authoritarians”) want to drag us to the bottom.

  21. Megalonyx:
    “Example: is it meaningful to describe the PRC today as ‘Marxist’ in the same degree as it was during the reign of Mao and the Cultural Revolution? Or might it not be more accurate to indicate it remains despicably totalitarian, and that ideology (of whatever flavour) is simply a tool used by totalitarian states? ”

    Macht nichts. They have only grown a veneer. Scratch them and they are all the same underneath.

  22. Frank J says:

    If only we can get that misleading one-dimensional “left-right” model out of our heads.

    It doesn’t really apply to the American system. I’ve read that “left-right” was first used by Thomas Carlyle in his History of the French Revolution. From the viewpoint of the presiding officer of their assembly (probably in the mid-1800s), on his right sat the representatives of the crown, the nobility, and the clergy. To his left sat the socialists.

    The US Constitution provides that we don’t have any of those elements of the European “right.” But we sure do have the “left.” The American “right” would be those who adhere to the Constitution — but we don’t have too many like that these days.

  23. For your consideration: Thomas Ratliff vs. Don McLeroy on YouTube. McLeroy is really hard to bear, so I haven’t gotten very far.

  24. James F: “McLeroy is really hard to bear, so I haven’t gotten very far.”

    The only thing that allows me to keep the patience to listen to, or read, nonsense from anti-evolution activists, is the occasional pleasure of finding inconsistencies and contradictions with other activists and sometimes even with themselves.

    If I were to listen/read for the double standards, logical fallacies, defining terms to suit the argument, conflating concepts (e.g. evolution with abiogenesis), quote mining, other misrepresentations of evolution, evasion from questions about their own elusive “theories” I’d go nuts. I did do that 10-12 years ago, and it got old fast.

  25. The US Constitution provides that we don’t have any of those elements of the European “right.

    Dear sweet Saint Polycarp of Ballymungus save us from spontaneous cerebral combustion: you don’t think that the “European Right” is made up of bishops, barons and belted earls, do you? Curmy, things have moved on a bit since 1789.

    But we sure do have the “left.”

    The day a national candidate with a realistic chance of getting 5% of the vote advocates workers’ control of the means of production, you’ll have a “left”. Your two parties advocate (and, more importantly, put into practice) pretty
    much the same corporatist-welfare system.

    The American “right” would be those who adhere to the Constitution

    Paging Mr Cheney!

    (Sorry Curmy, I sometimes get a bit excited about these things. Please carry on, it’ll pass soon)

  26. Amadan says: “Sorry Curmy, I sometimes get a bit excited about these things.”

    No problem. I fixed your formatting. Your thinking, however, we’ll leave for another time.